HIS JAVELIN IS FLYING into some rare air, and Curtis Thompson wouldn’t mind bringing people with him.
He enters this season coming off a No. 7 in the World Rankings, his best showing in his best year that continued his steady, incremental climb from college star to budding pro to international elite.
There isn’t any recent precedent for that last step for an American men’s javelin thrower and Thompson is well aware of what that means for his event in his country. He’s the best the U.S. has produced since Breaux Greer a decade and a half ago and Thompson very much wants to blaze that trail.
“It’s definitely something I’m not new to,” says Thompson, who is finalizing his ’23 schedule and eyeing a late February or early March start. “I’m looking forward to doing things people haven’t done before. I want to be able to do that and have other American javelin throwers realize it’s possible to be at that next level, to be competitive against the rest of the world.
“That’s the exciting part, to not only inspire but to get things rolling.”
More and more Thompson is getting his career rolling as he stacks performances and milestones together. The 26-year-old New Jersey high school product made the WC final a year after his first Olympic team, he’s up to a No. 7 World Ranking and his PR 287-9 (87.70) has him sniffing Greer’s AR 299-6 (91.28). The PR also has him as the No. 3 American ever behind Greer and Tom Petranoff.
In very tangible ways he’s moving to a new level and seeing what that means.
“Just last season alone has opened up quite a few opportunities in terms of which meets I can get into,” he says. “I signed with an agent [John Nubani] for the first time; that’s exciting to have someone else on the team that will improve my season and career.”
There are other upshots from his ’22 breakthrough, which followed a ’21 breakthrough and plenty of others before that.
“Every year you learn something new from each experience, it’s about gaining that kind of knowledge and understanding more about the javelin,” Thompson says. “I feel like I learned more from last season, now it’s time to implement what I learned and try to implement that with what’s been working for us and go from there.”
Specifically, the former Mississippi State NCAA champ wants to see the big numbers come more often and more reliably and he hopes to enjoy doing it.
“I want to get more consistent at the longer distances and also just have fun with the experiences and opportunities that are presented, going to these places and having success there,” says Thompson, who trains with the Birmingham, Alabama-based USA Javelin Project Group with Justyce Pollitt and Tom Pukstys. “Just open my eyes, look around and see where track & field has taken me.
“I want to remain in the top 10 in the World Rankings, shoot for trying to make it to the final 8 at World Champs [something an American hasn’t accomplished since Greer’s bronze in ’07] and keep doing better than what I did previously. Number-wise I hope in the near future I can shoot for the American Record and go from there.”
If that keeps happening, if his trajectory continues to move him closer to the top of the world, it could diminish the need for a day job. Having said that, Thompson draws plenty of fulfillment from being the throws coach at Spain Park High School in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.
Just as he wants to be a trailblazer for elite American javelin throwers, he wants to lead and inspire the generation behind them in the shot put and discus as well as the javelin.
“The biggest thing is giving the high school kids the opportunity to have a coach,” he says. “Sometimes in high school you don’t have a coach and you have to look for YouTube videos, things like that, just to find coaching. Being at Spain Park, I’m able to take the interest in the sport I’m so passionate about and help that grow in some of these kids, to give them something to push for.
“I’m seeing a lot of kids, this is the first sport they’ve ever played. It’s great to see it in their eyes when they do something well, they have improvement, they can go ahead and keep it growing. It’s great seeing them fall in love with the sport I love.”
Thompson is all about growing track and the javelin in America and he’s found several ways to do that.