Main themes - Sometimes, Genetics will always beat hard work. Also you do not have to have the best and most expensive equipment to succeed, you just need skill. (Scene 1)
Mattis - I bet you cannot clear a 6'6" high jump
Thomas - I think I can!
Mattis - We have a seven foot jumper!
Donald Thomas was bragging about his slam dunking with people from the track team. Carlos Mattis bet Thomas he could not clear a 6'6" high jump. "Carlos Mattis, Lindenwood’s top high jumper, had enough of Thomas’ lip and bet him that he could not clear 6’6” in a high jump competition."(Epstein)
Thomas decided to take the bet, and he won. Mattis set the beam higher until Thomas raised the beam to 7 feet and he cleared it. "Seven feet. Without a semblance of graceful high-jump technique –Thomas hardly arched his back and his legs flailed in the air like the streamers trailing a kite –he cleared it."(Epstein)
Mattis and Thomas went to the coach's office and told the coach Thomas could jump seven feet. The coach then offered Thomas to be in the track meet. "Mattis rushed Thomas over to the office where head track coach Lane Lohr was organizing his roster for the upcoming Eastern Illinois University Mega Meet and told the coach he had a seven-foot high jumper...So he asked if I wanted to go to track meet on Saturday." (Epstein)
Thomas competed at the Commonwealth Games in Australia against world class high jumpers. He placed 4th, because he did not know how tiebreakers work yet. He was still able to achieve this with onnly tennis shoes. "Two months later, Thomas competed at the Commonwealth Games in Australia... He placed fourth in a world-class field, a result that actually confused him because he did not yet understand how tiebreakers work." (Epstein)
Thomas competed in Osaka for the World Championships. Thomas cleared an 8'2" jump and won the competition. Holm lost, because he missed his last jump and hit the bar. "The guy in pole vault shoes who thinks high jump is 'kind of boring' was crowned the 2007 world champion. On his winning jump," (Epstein)
After examining Thomas, reasechers found that Thomas had a very long Achilles tendon that helped him store more energy. Holm's Achilles was normal sized, but it was very stiff. "Whereas Holm’s Achilles was a more normal-sized, incredibly stiff spring, Thomas’s, at ten and a quarter inches, was uncharacteristically long for an athlete his height. The longer (and stiffer) the Achilles tendon, the more elastic energy it can store when compressed." (Epstein)