American sprinter Gabby Thomas claimed the bronze in the women's 200-meter final at theon Tuesday after falling behind Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah, who took first, and second-place finisher Christine Mboma of Namibia.
After qualifying for the final, Thomas made a late surge toward the finish line and ran the 200-meter dash in 21.87 seconds. Thompson-Herah broke the Olympic record in the event, running a blazing time of 21.53 seconds.
Thomas, a Harvard graduate who's studying to get her master's in epidemiology, gainedin June for recording the then-second fastest time ever in the event (21.61 seconds) and was one of the favorites heading into Tokyo. She told that she was "mind-blown" to see her name behind the late sprinting legend Florence Griffith-Joyner, who holds the title.
The 24-year-old Thomas said in July it was a "dream" of hers to make Team USA and reflected on reaching her goal.
"It's such a long journey, and so many days and hours of mental and physical preparation. And it just all came together in that one moment," she said.
Looking beyond Tokyo, the Massachusetts-raised runner also wants to help fix racial disparities in the health care system. Thomas graduated from Harvard with a degree in neurobiology and a secondary degree in global health and health policy. She's now pursuing her master's at the University of Texas in public health, studying epidemiology/health care management. Inequalities in health were spotlighted throughout the pandemic — and it served as even more motivation for Thomas.
"What we're seeing with COVID, and what we saw with COVID, was nothing that I was surprised by, it just really solidified that I wanted to do what I was doing," she told CBS News.
"It's time to make a change and I think everybody's on board," she added. "So, I'm happy to be a part of it."