• Susan Seligson

    Susan Seligson has written for many publications and websites, including the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Yankee, Outside, Redbook, the Times of London, Salon.com, Radar.com, and Nerve.com. Profile

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There are 14 comments on Track and Field Icon John Thomas Dies at 71

  1. As a sprinter I never thought about high jumping until I saw the great John Thomas in a book when I was in the 10th grade. What a person, he’ll be missed.

  2. In 1968 John walked up to me in the gym on Babcocck Street at Boston University and asked me if I wanted to learn to high jump. I was 5’10” tall and only touched a basketball rim once in my life!
    I think its remarkable that he could reach out to one of the most hopeless jumpers in all of Boston and ask if he could teach them to high jump!
    I believe he was a great man.
    Gregg Cantor
    Naples, Florida

  3. When I was a high school student, I was involved with track and field events and high jumped. John Thomas was the one who I emulated. His style was fluid and effective..the Western Roll” was his approach, as it was with many high jumpers in the US and internationally. It is unfortunate that his family,America and the world had to say goodbye to a great athelete and humanitarian. God rest his spirit.

  4. An outstanding, humble track and field star has passed. He was loved by all…he befriended all…he will be missed.
    May God bless you John, you will NEVER be forgotten.

  5. Such sad news. “JT” was an assistant coach at BU when I was on the track team in the late seventies/early eighties. David Hemery, the BU-alumnus head coach and Mexico 400M hurdles gold medallist and world record-holder, had recruited me and some fellow Brits to join the team, and JT was ever-present, supportive, good-humored and always made us “foreigners” feel so welcome. Beyond his legendary status in the world of track and field JT was such a nice and humble gentleman and was always an inspiration to us young athletes on the BU track team. Thanks JT!

  6. Ran against John in the finals of the high hurdles at the 1958 Greater Boston Invitational. While we were warming up John was setting the high school world record in the high jump. Running the length of the field to join our finals he took a casual step over one hurdle as a warm up. Won the event easily. He could have been a great decatholete.

  7. So sad to hear that John is gone. I jumped against him in the Chicago Daliy News Relays while I was at University of Iowa. I tied for second behind him. He, I and a couple of others went to a party and out to breakfast after the meet. What a great down to earth guy. He held the indoor record at that time. This was in the early 1960’s.

  8. A sweet person, who did almost as much as Bill Russell to fix the racial mess in Boston. A fellow jock. I at BC.
    He was my friend. His coach at BU, Billy Smith, was also my friend. Bless these people.

  9. Very sad to learn that John Thomas, the legendary high jumper is no more. He had never visited India, however, we have seen his jumping actions in a number of films like , Tokyo Olympic, directed by Kon Ichikawa. His everlasting freindship with his arch rival Velery Brumel of the erstwhile U.S.S.R. is a symbol of Olympism that we inspire.

  10. I am very fortunate to say that John Thomas was my Boston University coach in 1977 & 1978, and he was my friend. Amazing man.

  11. I jumped against John in 1959 at the school boy meet at Boston Garden when we were both still in High School. I was out at 6’8″ representing Worcester South High School and John still hadn’t taken one jump! Of course he made his first jump and won the gold. I had to settle for the Bronze but I had the opportunity to meet him and compete against him. He was a true champion. and will be missed by all who knew him. Later the same day I was able to win the gold in the 50 Yard High Hurdles. So we both won Gold that Saturday in Boston back in 1959.

  12. I am a historian working on a project that includes John Thomas. Anyone who knew him, worked with him, competed against him, or has information that might help me do justice to his memory should contact me at selechne@ncsu.edu.

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