Former high jump world record holder and National Track & Field Hall of Fame member John Thomas passed away Tuesday, Armory Track reported on its website. He was 71.
In Thomas’ hall of fame career, he broke the world outdoor record in the high jump three times, won both silver and bronze Olympic medals and won a total of nine national titles. He cleared seven-feet in the high jump a total of 191 times and was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1985.
Thomas will forever be known for shocking the track and field world when he became the first athlete to ever clear seven-feet in the high jump indoors when he was just 17 years old at the 1959 Millrose Games. Thomas continued his consistent involvement with the Millrose Games as an official and the high jump competition at the meet now bears his name.
A dominant high jumper, Thomas lost just eight competitions in his career that spanned from 1959 until 1966. He was upset at the 1960 Olympic Games when he won a bronze medal. In 1964 he cleared the same height as Olympic champion Valery Brumel of the USSR, but was given silver when Brumel had fewer misses.
Thomas is also a member of the Boston University Hall of Fame, where he was a four-time All-American and won two NCAA titles, and the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame.