Meet The Black Olympic Fencer Who's Also Striving To Become A Surgeon
The Jersey native built up an impressive summer résumé as she tackled the Olympics and a medical residency at the same time.
December 22, 2021 at 7:52 pm
Before 2021, Kamali Thompson was just an Olympic hopeful pursuing her ambition to become an orthopedic surgeon, OwlSports reports. However, that didn’t keep her off track from the sport of fencing and attempting to get an Olympic gold.
The 29-year-old Teaneck, New Jersey, native has been fencing since she was in high school.
"I started fencing as a freshman in high school and joined a club as a junior," Thompson said. "I had never considered playing sports in college so at the point that it became an option, I had to find ones that had fencing."
After a visit with Temple’s head fencing instructor, Nikki Franke, and getting her mother’s stamp of approval, Thompson felt confident that she was headed in the right direction.
“[Franke] and my mom hit it off immediately,” she said. “And my mom was telling me that [Temple] would be a great school.”
During Thompson’s time at Temple, she managed to accumulate a variety of fencing accolades, including becoming a four-time NCAA Qualifier. She eventually landed a spot as an alternate member on Team USA’s fencing roster for the summer competition in Tokyo.
While in school, she also accomplished obtaining her medical and business degrees, eventually becoming a practicing orthopedic surgery resident working during the pandemic, Teen Vogue reports.
But it wasn't until 2021 when Thompson found herself at a crossroad, juggling the Olympics and her residency.
“Residency starts for everyone on July 1 and the Olympics are July 23rd,” Thompson said, according to Sportify It.
At the time, Thompson said she wasn't sure how it was going to work, but she later received confirmation that she could delay the start of her program, Sportify It reports.
Although her team placed fourth on the road to gold, Thompson expressed how she’s adjusted to the duality of her fencing endeavors and her medical career as a millennial.
“Millennials don't live by the same status quo our parents live by, or our grandparents,” she told Teen Vogue. “I can take my fencing, my medical career, and my MBA and make it into whatever I want to make it into. I think that's exciting. I want to open up other opportunities for myself, whatever they may be, down the line.”