The reason behind Jude's amazing run of success
HE keeps running and running and running. Winning and winning and winning.
However, the latest City of Ipswich Junior Sportsperson of the Year is in no hurry to stop as he aims to qualify for next year's World Junior championships.
Year 12 St Edmund's College student and NANCI Running Squad member Jude Thomas received his latest award at Friday night's annual presentation celebration at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre.
But hardly surprising to those who know Thomas well, he had just achieved another impressive running double representing his school at the AIC (Associated Independent Colleges) championships. He attended the sports awards function having set new standards winning the 800m (in personal best time) that day after taking out the 1500m the previous day.
"It felt good because all my mates were watching,'' he said.
After multiple successes throughout the year, including a record-breaking performance at the Oceania Athletic Championships, Thomas is virtually unstoppable.
The Karalee-based runner thanked his parents Michael and Maree for their support along with his NANCI Running Squad mates led by Clay Dawson and tireless coach Peter Reeves.
Before Thomas was crowned top junior achiever, the NANCI crew were also honoured by being named Team of the Year for their diverse range of successes and strong community spirit.
Thomas, 17, said it was a joy and privilege to be part of such a spirited Ipswich group.
"NANCI has a wide variety of age, points in their lives, different abilities,'' he said.
"Every person there has taught me something.
"It's just a great squad.''
Apart from being encouraged and pushed by other elite runners, Thomas thrives on the squad's camaraderie.
"It's very enjoyable though.
"You don't really feel like it's a chore running with NANCIs,'' he said.
"It's always fun. I wake up at four in the morning and happy.''
On a "running streak'' at the moment, Thomas has gone out every day since May 1 last year.
His average training run is 15km.
"It's about an hour and 15 minutes of running every day,'' he said.
He's in his final year at St Edmund's before pursuing study in sports science, nutrition or physiotherapy.
As the 10th City of Ipswich Junior Sportsperson of the Year, Thomas joins previous winners including recent French Open tennis champion Ash Barty, Olympic medal-winning swimmer Leah Neale, international golfer Louis Dobbelaar and Pacific Games taekwondo medallist Tamzin Christoffel.
Over the past 12 months, he has won major state and national club and cross country events over distances from 800m to 10km at the Gold Coast Marathon, where he finished third in the open men's category.
The Queensland champion bettered a record that had stood since 2004 in winning a gold medal in the under-18 3000m at the Oceania championships in Townsville. He covered the distance in 8.36.91 despite adverse weather.
"It's hard to tell which one I like the most,'' Thomas said when asked what his favourite result was.
"I really enjoyed all of them . . . different competition, different distances. But the highlight would probably be the Oceania 3k.
"It was tough conditions,very windy up there and against older blokes as well.''
On his current trajectory of success, Thomas could soon be heading overseas more. He has next year's world juniors in his sights.
"Definitely, I'm going to lay low for a bit. Just build up training,'' the highly regarded athlete said.
"Once I exit the under 18s, I'm in opens really so after being at the top I'll be back down to the bottom. So just work my way back up and hopefully in a couple of years I'll be mixing it with the best.''
Thomas appreciated his latest sportstar award after such an outstanding season.
"It really tells me I'm in the right direction and doing the right things,'' he said.