Why ‘Massachusetts Girl’ Gabby Thomas Made the Move to Austin — And Is Loving It

Though she is a self-proclaimed “Massachusetts girl,” Gabby Thomas made an easy transition to life in Austin, Texas — with no plans to leave anytime soon.

“You can’t help but love this city,” said the 26-year-old Olympic sprinter and New Balance athlete, who stars on the cover of FN’s Nov. 6 print magazine. “Everyone’s here, just living their best life. It feels like that’s kind of the motto of the city. No one’s taking themselves too seriously.”

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Thomas told FN she relocated to Austin in 2019 to pursue the next phases in her athletic and academic careers. “I’ve been passionate about health care and health disparities all through college, and that continued after I graduated,” she said in her cover story. “Part of me moving to Austin was finding a city where I could find a great group of teammates to train with and also a great grad school.”

Much of her time is spent training with her coach, Tonja Buford-Bailey, a three-time Olympic hurdler who is now the interim head coach of sprints, hurdles and relays at the University of Texas in Austin. She’s helping Thomas prepare for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, where she’ll be a contender for gold in the 200 meters — plus other events.

Thomas describes Buford-Bailey as a “best friend,” but said she also enjoys the camaraderie with other athletes on the track. “It’s a great mix of veterans and newer girls, so it’s an amazing dynamic of learning from one another,” she said.

This past spring, Thomas finished grad school, receiving a master’s in epidemiology and health care management from the University of Texas Health Science Center, though she continues to work at the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic in Austin that provides services to uninsured and under-resourced individuals.

In her off hours, Thomas enjoys taking her pug with her to check out all the city has to offer, including its many taco trucks and coffee shops. (Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors in East Austin is one of her favorites.)

“It’s a very, very dog-friendly city, which is great. Because I love my puppy and I bring him everywhere,” she said.

And she can often be spotted on the hike-and-bike trail around Lady Bird Lake. “It’s like the spot, and it’s a great space for running and fitness that everyone in the city can bond and connect over. It’s just incredible,” said Thomas.

Launch Gallery: Gabby Thomas: The FN Cover Shoot

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