Gymnastics world mourns death of Kurt Thomas, first US male gymnast to win world championship gold medal
The gymnastics world is mourning the death of Kurt Thomas, who was the first U.S. male gymnast to win a world championship gold medal.
Thomas died at the age of 64 on Saturday, nearly two weeks after suffering a stroke on May 24 caused by a tear of the basilar artery in the brain stem, according to the AP.
“Yesterday, I lost my universe, my best friend and my soulmate of 24 years. Kurt lived his life to the extreme, and I will be forever honored to be his wife,” Beckie Thomas told International Gymnast Magazine.
Thomas was born in Miami and went to college at Indiana State, where he was a five-time NCAA champion and led them to the 1977 national championship. He went on to compete on an international stage, representing the U.S. at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In 1978, he won gold in the floor exercise at the world championships, becoming the first U.S. male gymnast to do so. Thomas won gold again in the floor exercise at the 1979 world championship and added gold in the horizontal bar that year too.
Thomas won three gold medals, three silvers, and two bronzes at the world championships during his gymnastics career; two silvers and two bronzes at the Pan American Games; and three golds in the American Cup.
Thomas was the pioneer of the famous “Thomas Flair” move on the pommel horse and the “Thomas salto” in the floor exercise. He also starred in the 1985 movie “Gymkata.”
Here are some of the tributes he received online from those in the gymnastics community:
All of us in the gymnastics family are sadden ,shocked and devastated by the passing of our own
Love to the family
RIP Kurt Thomas pic.twitter.com/muhQ8MUJJc
— Nadia Comaneci (@nadiacomaneci10) June 6, 2020
Kurt Thomas was truly a one-of-a-kind gymnast and teammate. I loved sharing a page in gymnastics history with him, but love what he taught me about hard work and toughness even more. He could be a cocky son-of-a-gun but his heart was pure gold! Rest in peace, Kurt. pic.twitter.com/j45BL9Mkxt
— Kathy Johnson Clarke, OLY (@kathyjohnsongym) June 7, 2020
Rest In Peace Kurt Thomas Thank you for everything you did in the gymnastics community. You will forever be remembered as a true legend. Sending love and prayers to Beckie and the entire family. Xo
— Nastia Liukin (@NastiaLiukin) June 6, 2020
Kurt Thomas was a fierce rival, who went on to become a cherished friend. Proud to have been your teammate! Sending hugs to his wife Beckie, his children, Hunter, Kassidy and Kurt as well as the entire gymnastics community, who lost a true pioneer today. RIP @3XGold pic.twitter.com/xKAYknen94
— Bart Conner (@bartconner) June 7, 2020
This one is tough.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kurt Thomas. pic.twitter.com/Dsj6xbwXr7
— Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation (@WendyHilliardFD) June 8, 2020