From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kurt Thomas (March 29, 1956 – June 5, 2020) was an American Olympic gymnast. In 1978, he was the first American male gymnast to win a gold medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (World Championships).
Thomas became a member of the US Olympic team at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In 1979 he became the first gymnast to receive the James E. Sullivan Award for the best amateur athlete in the US and earned six medals at the World Championships, including gold on the horizontal bar and floor exercise, and silver in the all-around, parallel bars, and pommel horse. Coming off an impressive 1979 World Championship (6 medals), he was a favorite to win a gold medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics; however, the games were boycotted by the United States government.
Two gymnastic moves were named for him, the Thomas Flair, a pommel horse move, and the Thomas salto, his signature skill on floor exercise, a tucked 1.5 backward salto with 1.5 twist into a roll out (a difficult and dangerous skill even by today's standards).
Thomas died on June 5, 2020, at the age of 64. He suffered a stroke on May 24, two weeks before his death, brought about by a tear of the basilar artery in the brain stem.