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Midweek Speak: Joe Thomas

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Joe Thomas
Thomas - a colourful character with a generous barber

 

04 February 2009

One of the most colourful athletes on view at Saturday’s Aviva International in Glasgow was Cardiff AAC’s Joe Thomas. The Welsh 800m runner was making his GB & NI debut and it would’ve been understandable if the 21 year old year old had shyly shuffled onto the international stage for his first time.

Instead, the confident youngster marked the occasion with a new haircut consisting of bright orange and pink shocks splashed into his black mop of hair. He also proved himself talented enough to be able to produce a performance worthy of his attention-grabbing thatch, finishing a fine third in 1:49.73, a new indoor PB.

“I’ve dabbled in a bit of hair modelling in the past. My local hairdresser in Pontyclun asked me when I was on TV and said he’d do it for me for free. I like having it looking a bit mad.” He said, revealing an unusual perk of becoming an international athlete.

He was equally impressed with the more conventional benefits of joining the GB & NI set-up.  “Everything is so much more professional. You really don’t have to worry about anything, right from the transport to the track to having the physio on hand in a room in the hotel.” He said.

Thomas’ rise to prominence has been relatively sudden. Indeed Saturday’s outing was his first in a GB & NI vest at any level. “I have only really starting training properly in the last couple of years.” He explained. “I always competed, but never really trained. But then when I came to UWIC (University of Wales Institute, Cardiff), I thought it was a too good of a chance to miss.

“As a student, I have the time available and the facilities are so good, so I decided to give it a go and really knuckle down.” So far, so good. Last year he won the England Athletics U23 title at 800m and also claimed the scalp of Olympic 1500m finalist Andy Baddeley over the two lap distance at the Bank of Scotland Cup.

He has started 2009 in similarly purposeful vein. On Tuesday evening he took another chunk off his indoor PB, clocking 1:48.50 in finishing 2nd in Vienna. He is hoping for another race on the continent before competing at the Aviva European Trials & UK Championships in Sheffield on 14/15 February, where spectators will be hopeful of another illuminating outing from the young Welshman.