2020 Tokyo Olympics: US Athlete Gabby Thomas Says Getting Accepted Into Harvard Was Easier Than Qualifying for Olympics

by Jacklyn Krol

Gabby Thomas said that getting into Harvard was easier than making the Olympics.

The 24-year-old studied for her neurobiology undergrad at the prestigious university. However, getting into the selective and elite school was easier than the trial for the Olympics. This marks her first time qualifying and competing in the games.

The People that “making that Olympic team was harder. It’s not a question.” She added, “The U.S trials, across the sprints for sure, but I’m sure other events as well, is just the hardest team to make in the world.”

“A lot of those races are probably just harder than some of the Olympic races. Some of them are the fastest races in history,” she added. “I remember just being there for two weeks and that was just the toughest time period of my life to date, mentally.”

During that time she wasn’t sleeping or eating. She described it as “tough” and was “constantly on this adrenaline rush.”

Thomas is a first-time Olympian. Coming into the games, she ran the second-fastest 200m sprint in history during trials at 21.61. On Monday, she ran the 200m in 22.20.

All About the Gabby Pre-Olympics

Ironically, Gabby Thomas was never considered by college recruiters. She never previously ran in national meets, where people would have discovered her talent. She mentioned running on her Harvard application and the coach offered her a spot. Harvard isn’t known for creating Olympians, as the last Harvard grad who made it to the Olympics was a dropout in 1896.

While studying at Harvard, she began to focus on the health disparities facing African Americans. Thomas graduated in 2019 with her neurobiology degree and decided to pursue an MBA. She studied epidemiology at the University of Texas. She relocated there to also join the Buford-Bailey Track Club. 1996 Bronze medalist Tonja Buford-Bailey founded the club.

Thomas hopes to eventually launch a nonprofit and manage her very own hospital.

Thomas has been a busy person this past year. Before the trials, she rescued a pug and enjoyed volunteering, hiking, and learning the air fryer. In June she had a scare after discovering a tumor on her hamstring. She recently discovered that it was not cancerous.

After her history-making qualifier, she was able to celebrate with her best friend, Ngozi Musa. She has a great support system of family and friends and counts Musa as one of her driving forces. They arrived back at their hotel room stateside to discover that Ashton Kutcher direct messaged her. Her favorite actress Gabrielle Union even texted her. The pals also wanted to reach out to her favorite band, the Jonas Brothers.

Her mother, Dr. Jennifer Randall, joked to Sports Illustrated that she deserves a medal for giving her life. Her support system helped her discover her “Black girl magic” and hopes to shed a light on representation in the sport and Olympics.