Two days before burying his father, national 110m hurdles record holder Dwight Thomas is expressing gratitude for the outpouring of support that he has received from the public, as he continues his struggle to come to grips with the loss of the man he described as a "close friend".
Sixty-two-year-old Ashton Thomas was chopped and shot to death by unknown assailants, who forced their way into his home in Glengoffe, St Catherine, on July 18, four days before the hurdler competed and won at a meet in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Thomas, who will be representing the country in Daegu, South Korea, at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, says that his spirit has been greatly lifted by the support shown to him and his family during their time of grief, and is determined to use his loss as a motivational tool, heading into the August 27-September 4 championships.
"It's a blessing to see how many people and athletes that I don't even talk with on a regular basis come up to me and share their support and said I will be in their prayers. I thank everyone that posted messages to my Facebook," said Thomas. "It's so many I couldn't respond to everyone, but I appreciate everyone's support and it's a blessing to know so many people out there truly care about me.
"It's hard but I'll definitely use this as a motivational tool because at this point in the season I feel like I have nothing to lose. I already lost something more important than track in my life, because you only have one father, but there's other choices in life other than sports," Thomas added.
The former Calabar student remains bemused as to the reasons behind his father's death and the manner in which he died, describing him as an extremely quiet individual. He is hoping that the investigations being carried out by the lawmen will bear fruit and that those res-ponsible will be brought to justice.
"Just knowing how quiet my dad was and how he would never trouble anyone. He was so quiet you could be in the same room with him and never know that he is beside you. If you won't talk he won't talk. I never experienced a death in my family with someone I am so close with. I just ask for a thorough investigation and to see the perpetrators brought to justice," said Thomas before reliving his emotions when he first heard news of the passing.
"The news was devastating," he shared. "When my mom called and shared what happened, all I could hear was crying on the phone so I kept on asking her what happened and she told me to slow down," Thomas said.
"When she told me what had happened I couldn't believe it, I was shocked, then it hit me that I would not see him again after just seeing him for the last time two weeks before that incident," he shared. "I broke down in tears. It's hard grieving but the support I have receive, from the track family and Jamaica gave me the courage to continue to compete. Because it is the hardest thing to try to run when your father's death is on your conscience. I have to try not to think about it when I step on the line."