Gabby Thomas is an Olympian. Now, on to a master’s degree.

Gabby Thomas, 24, is a Harvard graduate who is working toward a master’s degree in epidemiology. She is also a first-time Olympian.

On Saturday, she raced away from a deep and talented field to win the women’s 200 meters in 21.61 seconds, which was the third-fastest time in history. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner has ever run faster, and Thomas — who obliterated her own personal best — says she’s primed for Tokyo. She cited the importance of balance in her life.

“Being in school really makes me appreciate what I’m doing on the track,” said Thomas, who now trains and studies in Texas. “It makes you appreciate the time. When I go to the track, this is my time to be on the track and be free.”

Thomas added she had drawn inspiration from the woman who had raced to a fifth-place finish: Allyson Felix.

“She was the first person I remember watching on TV, the person who has been in the back of my head,” Thomas said. “To be on the team with her makes me want to cry.”

Felix, one of the most decorated American athletes of all time, had already assured herself a spot in her fifth and final Olympics by finishing second in the 400 meters last week. But while she did not qualify in the 200, she was well aware of the significance of Saturday’s race. It would be her final time competing at the trials.

“Today was just about soaking it in,” she said. “The last time around. I just wanted to take it all in and do the best that I could, and just say thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. It was really special.”

Thomas was followed by Jenna Prandini in second and Anavia Battle in third. All three broke 22 seconds, a notable mark for 200-meter runners.

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