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Track and Field Athlete With Diabetes Attributes Success To Condition

Howard University track and field sprinter Evander Thomas discusses his experience and attitude as an athlete with Type 1 diabetes.

Evander Thomas in Howard track and field uniform. (Photo Courtesy of Tobisvizion)

Evander Thomas, a sophomore journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Feb. 22, 2020. From that day forward, his life changed as he adapted. 

Thomas has produced top-eight finishes in back-to-back meets including two personal records at the HBCU Showcase on Jan. 13.

However, his health issues once left his future in the sport in doubt.

As a child, Thomas was involved in many sports but found a love for track and field as he reached high school. One week during his tenth-grade year, he felt  the constant urge to use the restroom and found himself dehydrated. As the week concluded, his mother noticed the irregular behavior and took him to his grandmother’s, knowing that she had a glucometer available for use. 

The medical machine at his grandmother’s home wasn’t advanced enough to calculate his sugar levels because of how high it was, so he and his family decided to go to the hospital. Once the doctor calculated his blood sugar, he diagnosed Thomas with diabetes. After receiving his diagnosis, only one thing was on his mind.

“The first question out of his mouth was, and this was the only question he asked the doctor, ‘Does this mean I have to stop running track?’” his mother, Demeatrice Thomas, said. 

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While the shocking news left him vulnerable, the sprinter concluded that he did not want to let diabetes control his life; instead, he wanted to use it as fuel to be stronger than before.

“When I was laying in that hospital bed, and I felt so weak, I felt like this was something that was meant to hold me back, and I wasn’t going to allow it to do that to me,” Thomas said.

Despite receiving life-changing news, Thomas said his work ethic and love for track and field never wavered. His determination was strong, and he refused to let anything get in the way of his running. 

“That Friday, February the 28th he competed in the regional competition,” the student-athlete’s mother said. “Even after being diagnosed.”

The ambitious sprinter concluded his high school career as a 2022 New Balance National High School All-American.

As time progressed, he adjusted to a life with diabetes, creating a schedule that worked with school and track and field. There were still some difficulties that were unexpected and negatively impacted his days at track meets. 

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“I definitely will say it was difficult going to meets and not knowing the carb count (of the food provided),” the Bison sprinter said. “First of all, it was a time killer and I would be hungry.”

As he grew as an athlete, Thomas also evolved as a person. He credited who he is as an athlete today to his diabetes. 

“ I don’t think I’d be running D1 collegiate track and field if it wasn’t for my diabetes,” Thomas told The Hilltop. “My work ethic didn’t start until I was diagnosed.”

Thomas’s positive outlook on his diagnosis is observed and admired by those around him. Despite these unforeseen circumstances, his cheerful mentality remains unwavered.

“You know, it’s a tall task dealing with a health situation like he has, and he’s done it with nothing but a smile on his face and nothing but enthusiasm,” David Oliver, director of the track and field program, said. 

Since being diagnosed in 2020, Thomas shared he has been optimistic about his diabetes; accepting it for what it is and allowing it to mold him into something great. 

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“My diabetes isn’t something I see as an enemy, it’s not something that I see that I got to defeat; it’s something that I work with to make me better,” he explained.

Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady


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