Mikel Thomas

HOUSE OF BASKETBALL: Mikel Thomas at FIBA headquarters, “The House of Basketball”, in Mies, Switzerland.

Mikel Thomas has represented Trinidad and Tobago at three Olympic Games and has also made three appearances at the IAAF World Championships. Additionally, the Maloney athlete earned silver in the men’s 110 metres hurdles at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, and is the national record holder in the event at 13.17 seconds.

Thomas is hoping to become a four-time Olympian at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan. In the meantime, he continues to fly the Red, White and Black. The 32-year-old is enrolled in the prestigious Sports Management Masters programme at the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Funding, however, has been a challenge.

“I’m here in Switzerland working on my Masters at the number one programme in the world,” Thomas told the Express. “I fund raised myself here and need help to continue.”

Thomas was keen to share “some of the amazing things” he has been involved in since starting the Masters.

“I recently visited with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and discussed their global social programmes and ways to support already established groups in Trinidad and Tobago. My hope is to collaborate with the programmes already at work in Trinidad like the SOS Basketball Academy and 3x3 project in Maloney.

“I grew up there (Maloney),” the sprint hurdler continued, “so to be able to support a programme making a difference in the lives of our youth is a dream. Three-by-three has a saying, from ‘The streets to the Olympics’, and I feel it has great possibilities to inspire and unite the community while providing positive influences. Nothing is in stone, but I’m fighting for sport and our youth.”

Thomas has also established important links with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“I’ve connected with the IOC on several levels, including meeting the president Thomas Bach and Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, contributing to a panel discussion during their partnership launch in London. I was invited as a guest to discuss ways it can help the athletes, sport and communities around the world.

“A highlight for me was to hear President Bach during the press conference mention people being able to visit Trinidad and Tobago, a win for our sport tourism and culture departments.”

Thomas was recently given the responsibility to collaborate with the International Testing Agency (ITA).

“The goal is to help them develop a Clean Sport Education Plan. A huge task but with even bigger impact. I also have been granted an opportunity to assist with the athlete education programmes during the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG2020) set for January in Lausanne.

“It’s a huge event that will allow me to interact with the next generation while also developing my own abilities with Youth Multi-Sport Games. It’s perfectly timed to me as I hope to use this experience in my preparation toward being able to contribute to a successful hosting by Trinidad and Tobago for the Youth Commonwealth Games in 2021.”

Thomas said he is excited about the many possibilities available to T&T through the AISTS Masters Programme.

“I hope to continue to build strong global connections and display the beauty and power of our nation. It’s an honour to be a representative of the islands and I take it with pride to share our culture around the world. I’ve done all that I can to raise money to get me here but now I’m out of resources and in great need of help to continue the mission.”

Thomas resigned from his job as a firefighter in Georgia, USA, in order to pursue his Sports Management Masters. In June, a GoFundMe account (https://www.gofundme.com/HelpOlympicFirefighter) was created in a bid to meet the required expenses. He is hoping for continued support via the GoFundMe route.

“I need US$10,000 to finish pay for tuition, and need support as well to help cover living expenses. There’s so much more work to do, but I need help in order to accomplish that. I’ve raised our flag as an Olympian and aim to continue. With the right support,” Thomas ended, “I know that we truly can accomplish great things.”

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