THREE-TIME Olympic hurdler, Mikel Thomas, may have taken his biggest leap of faith thus far, having recently been accepted to the number one sports management programme in the world – the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (AISTS) Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration and Technology.
The 32-year-old is the first TT citizen to be a part of this exclusive bunch of 29 students from 23 different countries. Thomas was invited as a member of the World Olympians Association and has already completed 12 weeks of his 15-month duration at the Olympic Capital in Lausanne, Switzerland.
However, the three-time national hurdling champion is in need of US$34,000 to complete his academic prowess and become TT’s first-ever certified AISTS Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration and Technology administrator. Since his acceptance in August, Thomas has raised US$21,373 via gofundme.com but still needs to allocate US$10,000 for tuition and approximately US$24,000 (US$2,000 per month) for living expenses.
According to Thomas, he has been reaching out to the Ministry of Sport for assistance but has been unsuccessful in his attempts via representatives, Patrice Charles and Gabre McTair. The experienced hurdler is now exploring other options. On Monday, he sent an updated email on his progress in Lausanne to the Office of the Prime Minister’s Sport and Culture Fund and remains quietly confident on a speedy response.
Speaking from his base at the Olympic Capital yesterday, Thomas was upbeat and expressed optimism he would secure financial aid to complete the globe’s most esteemed sports management programme.
“I’m working as hard as I can to seize this opportunity, active and diligent. I recently have been granted a project with the International Testing Agency (ITA) as part of our AISTS 2020 Masters Programme with the goal to help them develop a Clean Sport Education Plan. It’s a huge task, but with even bigger impact. With your support, I hope to continue to build strong global connections and display the beauty and power of our sport. Your investment in me got me here but I’m now out of resources and in great need of support.”
This unique programme is endorsed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is co-signed by some of the best academic and technology institutes in Switzerland. IOC president Thomas Bach, recently described the Masters as, “producing highly-trained graduates, many of whom have gone on to play leading roles in the world of sport, and offers leading expertise and technical services to a wide range of key players inside and outside the Olympic movement.”
Over the past two weeks, Thomas visited the International Basketball Federation(FIBA) and discussed their global social programmes and ways to support already established groups in TT. One hope is to collaborate with the 3x3 basketball project in Maloney.
“I grew up there, so to be able to support a programme making a difference in the lives of our youth is a dream. 3x3 has a saying from ‘The streets to the Olympics’ and I feel it has great possibilities to inspire and unite the community while providing positive influences,” he added.
The 2015 North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championship 110m hurdles gold medallist also highlighted his recent connections with Bach and Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gibbs, contributing to a panel discussion during their partnership launch this week in London. Thomas was invited as a guest to discuss ways the venture can help athletes, sport and communities around the world.
“A highlight for me was to hear president Bach during the press conference mention people being able to visit TT, a win for our sport tourism and culture departments.”
In search of attaining the highest level of sports management qualification, Thomas also resigned his job as a firefighter at the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Station in Georgia, USA and turned in his pension to jumpstart the leap to get to Switzerland.
Those who wish to contribute to Thomas’ journey can do so by logging on to https://www.gofundme.com/f/helpolympicfirefighter or can reach out to him via Facebook.