Double Olympian, Mikel Thomas has relocated to Altis, joining an ever growing stable of talented sprinters and hurdlers now training together in the Phoenix sunshine.
Thomas, who also holds the National Record for Trinidad & Tobago in the 110m hurdles, is looking forward to “the opportunity to work with the best, in a fully professional environment, in a great location.” Coach Andreas Behm echoed his sentiments, and is excited by the positive impact Mikel’s move will have on the training group: “Mikel is a very explosive hurdler with flat sprint capabilities. Together with Aries and Matthias he gives us three hurdlers with Olympic experience. This should make for a nice training group to push one another.”
We spoke to Mikel to find out more…
What is your home-town?
Proud son of the soil of Maloney, Trinidad and Tobago, but Brooklyn, NY raised me.
How old are you?
26 but birthday is coming up 11/23, and yes I’m accepting gifts!
What School did you attend and what is your Degree in?
I went to the University of Kentucky, Go wildcats! My degree is in Kinesiology – Exercise Science.
What events do you compete in, and what are your PR’s?
110m Hurdles – 13.19s
100m – 10.20w
But I’m hoping to do more flat sprinting.
Have you competed in other sports?
Not organized sports. But I grew up on cricket and soccer. I was always the kid running around looking for a race. So I found a circle to run around and haven’t gotten out since!
When you’re not on the track, what do you do?
I love food (seriously), cooking, eating, exploring the city for new places, binge watching shows, hikes, watching other sports and just or relaxing.
What has been the highlight of your career in Track & Field so far?
As an athlete it has to be breaking the National Record. It was a huge PR and came unexpectedly. I knew I was ready to run but that ready, the time was a huge bonus and opened up many doors for me.
Another highlight was competing at a Championship with athletes I once coached or recruited. That happened this past season at the Commonwealth games with two athletes from Jamaica and one from Nigeria. To be able to witness that was an honor, and I was so proud of them. [Mikel formerly worked as an assistant coach at his previous base at the University of Florida.]
Do you have a favorite movie?
Finding Nemo and The Lion King … who doesn’t love those!
What’s your favorite meal?
Macaroni pie, stew chicken and callaloo – it’s a Trini Sunday thing.
Who is your sporting hero?
Do you have a favorite quote?
“And Jesus said to him … “If You can?” All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23
What are your pre-meet rituals?
I always pray, and I do have a lil’ move I do each time before I enter the blocks something you got to see to understand. Just a way to remind me that I’ve done this before and to help be consistent. But I’ve run fine without. I just do a lil’ something to the wake up the crowd and shake up the line … But I still must pray.
So what’s on your pre-meet playlist?
Everything from Atu, Bunji Garlin, Red Hot Chilly Peppers to samba and Afro beats, John legend, Coldplay, Sade, Vybz Kartel, to Yolanda Adams and plenty Soca. Depending on my mood I can play with the songs to build the right atmosphere. I can be singing a love song then start a rave all in the same drill. All of these are just to make sure I’m at a certain level … then I just tune into my body and the meet environment.
Looking into the future, what are your career goals in Track & Field?
Why be in it if not to be the greatest!
I’d like to leave a positive impact within the sport, and hopefully leave it better than when I came. Also to run as fast as I humanly can, and every chance I get – raise the flag and hear my national anthem play.
What do you hope to be doing after your athletic career is finished?
I would continue coaching, but would also like to go into broadcasting. I hear I have the face for radio … (it’s a joke) – see, I’m well on my way!
What do you think Track & Field needs to do to build its popularity in North America?
1. Bring back rivalry, everyone’s too nice!
2. Get more co-operation and support.
3. Bring in more creative competition venues – things like street races, malls, landmarks.
4. Gain multiple sponsors like cycling or car racing use.
5. Build better coverage and deeper journalistic interest.
6. Create more meets and circuits on this side of the world for professional athletes.
“Bring back rivalry, everyone’s too nice!”
So what does success look like to you?
I would say having a perspective on progression; to be able to say change and improvement has been achieved. Likewise, knowing I was able to display my best whilst capturing goals and exceeding expectations … Oh, and winning; times change titles don’t!
What are the 3 most important factors that help you to determine your success?
Faith, support and having a strong work ethic.
What motivates you to reach this success?
My faith in God – to give Him the glory with the talents he has blessed me with.
To leave an impact in the sport, my nation, community and family.
To show that we don’t have to be limited by some else’s opinion but be products of our own expectations.
I don’t like losing either … I’ll make you work for it!
What has prevented you from succeeding in the past?
A lack of faith and little to no support. It might be an individual sport but no man is an island.
“It might be an individual sport but no man is an island.”
What do you think can prevent you from succeeding in the future?
Only what I can’t see at the time in my mind.
Why did you choose to join Altis?
To have the opportunity to work with, and alongside the best in a fully professional environment, whilst being in a great location. It’s both a privilege and an honor.
What are you most looking forward to about being based here?
Me being fit and healthy during Championship season sessions next to a fit healthy guy like Aires [Merritt] or Anaso [Jobowanda] oh … it’s going to be epic!
Is there anything you are dreading?!
I hear it gets hot down here, like 115. I don’t know if I’m allowed to cook for that long, even being from the islands!
Mikel is on Twitter and Instagram. You can follow him here.