USQ student chasing more records at the Gold Coast, in cross country

Ipswich athlete Jude Thomas remains composed on his way to setting another Australian under-20 record in the national 3km race at Box Hill

Ipswich athlete Jude Thomas (in second) remains composed on his way to setting another Australian under-20 record in the national 3km race at Box Hill.

 

PREPARING for his next major mission, record-breaking athlete Jude Thomas will represent his club and city with additional pride.

Having just added an Australian open 3km silver medal and another under-20 national record to his sensational achievements, Thomas plans to continue competing in a specially created racing singlet.

The singlet was custom made by Pete Wyman from Bit Hit, to replicate what Ipswich and District Athletic Club (IDAC) competitors wore from the early 1980s into the 1990s.

“I really like that singlet,” Thomas said, displaying his sense of history and tradition.

Ipswich athletes Ben Thomas (left) and Jude Thomas (not related) model the traditional club racing singlets created by Pete Wyman from Big Hit.

The gesture was a proverbial hit for IDAC members, especially for long time officials and former athletes like club president Vic Pascoe who used to race in a similar style uniform.

“It was so good.  Everybody was so happy having a lightning bolt down the front,” Pascoe said.

“And that’s how the Lightning Gift (Ipswich’s annual prizemoney handicap race) came about.  That was 1990, the first one.”

Thomas, 19, plans to wear the racing singlet in future events including the next Gold Coast 10km road race and upcoming state and national cross country events.

He is focused on the Gold Coast event having just finished second in the Australian 3km track race at Box Hill in Melbourne.

The former St Edmund’s College student set a new national under-20 record in seven minutes, 52.11 seconds.

He bettered the previous best under-20 standard of Ryan Gregson by more than five seconds.

DOUBLE REWARD:  Jude’s impressive 1500m and 5km national successes

The Ipswich club athlete’s latest record came after Thomas recently won the Australian under-20 1500m and 5km titles in Sydney, where he set World Junior qualifying times.

That was the first time Thomas had won the national under-20 double.

He effortlessly led all the way on day two of the titles to claim the 1500m final in three minutes, 47.44 seconds.

Two days later, he broke the championship record in winning the 5km event in 13 minutes, 57.86 seconds.

Ironically, the previous 5km record was set the year Thomas was born in 2002.

With this year’s World Junior Championships in Kenya called off as expected, Thomas was far from devastated.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Thomas said, keen to pursue his progress in open competition.

“It would have been great to represent as a junior but I’m after the senior ranks.  That’s where I want to make an impact.

“It (the world juniors event) was going to be a stepping stone.

“I’m grateful that everything has worked out so far and we’ve just been able to have nationals, which we didn’t get last year.”

Thomas reduced his training to 90km ― his lowest in more than a year and a half ― in the week before heading to Melbourne for his 3km quest.

He can now increase his training to 150/160km to prepare for future road and cross country challenges.

“I have a road race before racing cross country,” he said.  “So in about 10 weeks time, I hope to get to the Gold Coast 10k, which I’ll be looking for the win.”

Depending on the conditions, Thomas will chase another record in that race.

“If there’s no wind, I’m looking to go low 29 minutes,” he said.

“That’s when the big cross country races kick in.”

The national cross country championships later this year are a selection trial for the World Cross Country Championships.

“That will be the main event for the rest of the year,” he said.

Ipswich athlete Jude Thomas (in second) positions himself for a record-breaking finish in the Australian 3km race at Box Hill.

Having just finished an 18km run in from 5am before this morning’s storms, Thomas was pleased how his latest national performance panned out.

“I definitely put in,” he said, having run a more comfortable pace winning the earlier Australian under-20 1500m and 5km events.

“It was a good race.

“I know I should go a little bit quicker but I was happy in terms of how it played out.

“I think I did the best with what I could have done.”

He sat in fifth or sixth during the slow start before moving into a top two position.

“I’ve raced good fields before but this was probably one of the best fields I’ve been in,” he said.

“I can kind of hold my own in the 3k.  It was a pretty competitive field for me because I knew I would be able to mix it with these guys.

“I just wanted to stay in the mix for as long as possible and just hope I can make something happen on the last lap.”

He did that ― coming from fifth with a lap to go to make his powerful finish.

“I had quite a fast last K ― in two and a half minutes,” he said.

Thomas said beating Gregson’s 12 year record was satisfying.  Gregson finished third behind the Ipswich runner.

“Ryan Gregson is a legend and someone I look up to,” Thomas said.

“It was pretty cool though, when he came over after the race to congratulate me.”

Thomas also set a personal best by eight seconds in finishing behind race winner Jack Bruce, one of his athletic idols.

“Most of the time when I’m with these big name guys like Ryan Gregson and Jack Bruce ― guys that are dominating the sport ― I’m just trying to hang on,” he said.

However, the dedicated Ipswich athlete has already challenged himself to improve his national under-20 3km record.

In addition to his national records, Thomas is the fastest under-20 Queenslander over 3km and 5km.  He also holds the Queensland Residents 1500m record.

Thomas is currently a Sport and Exercise Science student at the University of Southern Queensland Ipswich campus.

He thanked his coach Peter Reeves, his NANCI running mates in Ipswich and his family for their ongoing support of his athletic conquests.