Trinity Thomas focused on future with Gators, but opens door to possible '24 Olympics run
Trinity Thomas won’t be wearing red, white and blue in Tokyo this summer, but there’s still a chance she could compete for a spot on Team USA for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
On May 19, the former West York High School athlete announced on Twitter that she would not compete in the upcoming events to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and end her elite gymnastics career after she injured her ankles during the collegiate season at Florida.
However, on Thursday during a Zoom call, Thomas slightly cracked the door open to a possible return to elite gymnastics, if the situation is right in 2024.
“It's more of 'I'm going to wait and see where I'm at,' but definitely, I'm not opposed to coming back,” Thomas said with a laugh.
Thomas admitted the decision to sit out the qualifying events was a difficult one and she considered trying to fight through the injuries and compete, like she did at the NCAA Division I Championships. Ultimately, she made the decision to focus on the future and either delay or end her Olympic dreams instead of risking further harm or a poor performance.
“I definitely took it hard,” Thomas said. “I kind of tried to push my feelings down for a while and pretend like I was OK, but it was definitely difficult. I think it was most difficult because I was torn. I was like, 'I can do it, but I'm not going to be at my best.' So, is it worth maybe making my injuries worse or something like that, and I decided that it wasn't worth that and that I still had one, maybe more years, to do gymnastics and I wanted to be able to do that. I knew that with those goals in mind, too, that it was in my best interest to call it.”
Looking for big things with the Gators: For now though, the only colors Thomas is concerned with are blue and orange, which represent her Florida Gators.
Thomas and her teammates have come painfully close to winning national championships the past two seasons, but are yet to collect a national title trophy.
In 2020, the Gators were undefeated headed into the postseason and Thomas was a finalist for the Honda Award, presented to the top NCAA athlete each season from various sports. COVID-19 prematurely ended that season.
In 2021, Thomas’ team was No. 1 and had the highest score of the season before she injured her ankles. Florida still won the SEC regular-season title, but lost the conference championship and finished fourth at the NCAA Team Championships.
Despite the injuries, Thomas competed and had a 10.0 score during a regional qualifier. She also was named the collegegymnews.com Gymnast of the Year.
“It’s definitely something that just makes me want to work even harder, because I know what I'm capable of and I know what all my teammates are capable of, as well,” Thomas said. “So, it's just super special that we share that bond and we share this passion, and that we all want it so bad. We're gonna do it.”
Thomas earned five 2021 Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association All-America honors. She received first-team honors in the all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor events, and was a second-team honoree for the balance beam.
Thomas was also the only NCAA gymnast to earn the maximum five All-America honors. She had four perfect 10.0 scores during the season and was the No. 1-ranked all-around gymnast in the NCAA.
Rooting for Fatta: While Thomas focuses on her recovery ahead of next season, she is rooting on another local gymnast who will compete for a spot on Team USA.
Addison Fatta and Thomas trained at Prestige Gymnastics together in Lancaster as kids and are still close. Although she admitted not being a part of the events was challenging at first, Thomas has enjoyed seeing her friend have a chance to achieve her dream.
“Just to see her go out there and do her thing and make it to Olympic Trials is absolutely amazing,” Thomas said. “Right now I'm kind of living through her, so it's kind of cool. I called her and talked to her after and she's super excited. She's such a sweetheart and I'm so proud of her.”
She's confident she made the right call: Although the choice to change her plans and skip Olympic qualifying was a challenge, Thomas is confident it was the right one.
While she got emotional talking about missing out on the opportunity to participate in the upcoming team trials, she has come to terms with it and thanked her friends, family and fans for the support that helped her find happiness in a difficult time.
“I'm definitely feeling all those emotions now just because it's so close to trials, which was my goal to be at trials,” Thomas said. “I also know, though, that it's OK and that I'm more than gymnastics itself and obviously more than an elite gymnast. I've had a lot of opportunities and I've accomplished a lot of things and it's OK that I'm OK with not going to trials this year and moving on and seeing what's next.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.