Emily Moss profiles one of the country’s top under-17 sprint hurdlers, Tre Thomas
Having won the England Athletics indoor 60m hurdles title in the second fastest ever time by a UK under-17 athlete, 16-year-old Tre Thomas finished the outdoor season ranked second over 100m hurdles and with a 2016 School Games title to his name.
“It feels satisfying to think I was at the top of the rankings and I was able to keep running fast times throughout the season,” explains Tre.
After his 7.90 indoors, the Charnwood hurdler ran 12.84 for 100m hurdles in April and improved further to a hand-timed 12.8 in May. He has since gone sub-12.9 on two other occasions – when taking the Midland Championships and School Games titles. His time was the quickest of 2016 until Mayowa Osunsami clocked 12.70 to beat him into second at the England Athletics Under-17 Championships at the end of August.
Reflecting on his first national title, he says: “It felt, and still feels amazing to think that I won at the England Athletics Indoor Championships. To run such a fast time that puts me second on the all-time rankings and only misses the championship record by one hundredth is even more amazing. I knew that I really wanted to run under eight seconds in the indoor season. After winning the heats in 7.96, I was ecstatic inside. However, I knew that I had to stay focused so that I could excel in the final.”
Tre is quick to credit the staff and fantastic facilities at Saffron Lane athletics track in Leicester where he and his group train all year round. He also thanks his coaches, Eliska and Roger Binks, and the athletes he trains with.
He says: “Eliska and Roger are a married couple who make a great team and are very supportive. I train with many talented athletes. Our group consists of sprinters, hurdlers, a long jumper and a javelin thrower.
“One of my main training partners is Victoria Johnson, who came second in the England Athletics Indoor Under-15 Championships in the 60m hurdles. I also train with Ben Higgins, who has recently switched from sprint hurdles to 400m hurdles. Ben and I are in the same age group, which means that we constantly compete beside each other in the sprints and sprint hurdles. We are both very competitive and tend to run faster when running against each other.”
Having improved his time by more than half a second in 2016, Tre credits his coaches for his run of good form. “I think that my improvement all comes down to my coaches, Eliska and Roger. I really appreciate the time and effort that they put into me and the rest of my training group. After moving into the training group in August 2014, they have ensured that I get the right training for my preferred event of hurdles,” he says.
However, he also mentions the role his family has played in his development. “I wouldn’t be able to do so well without the commitment of my family too,” he says. “My parents both sacrifice so much time every week to take me to and from training. They are also always there when I am competing, alongside my grandma, who is very supportive of me and my training group.”
Furthermore, he is delighted to be a ‘Go Gold’ athlete as part of a local Leicestershire and Rutland initiative which supports and provides funding.
When it comes to why he is a hurdler, Tre clearly likes the challenge and variety of clearing barriers and running quickly. “I like hurdling because there is always something that you can improve on,” he says.
“Hurdles is such a technical event and I think I thrive on perfecting the way I run. The only downside is when you hit them. I definitely prefer hurdle sessions to sprint sessions.”
What does he think about in the blocks, when he is faced with a line of 10 barriers in front of him? “I just think about getting the fastest start possible and driving hard to the first hurdle,” he replies.
Having completed his GCSEs at Rawlins Academy in Quorn, near Loughborough, Tre thinks back to how he first became involved in athletics at primary school. He recalls: “I got selected by my PE teacher to represent the school in the Loughborough Schools area athletics in the 75m sprint. After that, I joined the Charnwood AC sprint group for the younger athletes, which I enjoyed with a few other friends from my primary school.
“My mother was a very good athlete for Charnwood in the 1980s and I have finally beaten her achievements this year. My target for this year is to simply do the best that I can. I hope that I can stay healthy and enjoy this outdoor season, just like I have done every year.”
You can find further performance stats on Tre on Power of 10 here.
» Support young athletes via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk