Kamali Thompson is making history and making America proud as masterfully shuttles between two worlds that may seem at odds with one another and manages a schedule that may seem almost impossible.
What are these two worlds? Thompson, dressed for competing in a sport dominated by men, holds a fencing Saber in her hand, while a stethoscope hangs loosely around her neck, which is required for her equally demanding role as fourth-year medical student.
Thompson, who is training for the 2020 Olympic team, is a 2019 Fencing U.S. National Team Member, ranking No. 6 in the US Team and 114 in the World, coupled with being a 2019 Pan American Team Champion.
The athlete is proving that her mission to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games can be pursued with passion and skill – even as she endures the rigors of medical school as she engages in studies for dual degrees at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.
According to Thompson, when she realized that fencing and pursuing a medical education would place her on a nontraditional path, she decided almost immediately that rather than being afraid to push the envelope, she would embrace the challenge and give both her full commitment; not 50/50 but 100/100.
Thompson has found the challenge exhilarating.
Excelling in as a female athlete – a national champion -- in a combat sport is an amazing feat. Factor in the strenuous demands of being a fourth-year medical student with plans to specialize in orthopedic surgery – another largely male-dominated field -- requires sheer grit, guts, strategy, and remarkable intelligence.
“The most challenging thing at this point is securing sponsors to help me successfully accomplish my dreams of being an Olympian and a surgeon,” says Thompson.
It all began for Thompson when she was recruited by the Temple University fencing team. During her four years as a Temple Owl, she went on to become a four-time NCAA Championship qualifier, a second-team All-American, and the first four-time NIWFA conference champion. Her performance inside the classroom and on the fencing strip earned the title of Student-Athlete of the Year at Temple University twice (2011, 2012). She graduated from Temple University with honors, earning a bachelor’s of science in biology and a minor in psychology.
Post-graduation, Thompson matriculated into Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and began competing internationally for Team USA.
During the 2015-2016 Olympic qualifying year, she was a three-time national silver medalist. After a strenuous, yet rewarding season she finished 6th on the national point standings and won the 2016 National Championships. Thompson is a member of the 2019 national team, completing research in the sports medicine division in the department of orthopedic surgery at NYU, and studying to become an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon. She is also a 2018-2019 author for Doximity and continues to fiercely train for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.
“I think the difference between me and perhaps some other people is that I am not afraid to fail,” said Thompson, who also runs clinics for high school student-athletes on weekends. “I use that approach when training for the Olympics and studying for my medical degree and preparing to be a surgeon. I don’t stop to think about fear or reasons why I can’t tackle something. I don’t think you can ever fail, really. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you planned, most of the time, it all works out. I just delve into the opportunity with the goal of succeeding no matter the challenge. ”
➢ U.S National Team Member (2019)
➢ Pan American Team Champion (2019)
➢ Division I Women’s Saber National Silver Medalist (2015, 2018, 2019)
➢ Women in Sports Foundation Travel & Training Grant Recipient (2017, 2018)
➢ Division I Women’s Saber National Champion (2016)
➢ World University Games Team Member (2013)
➢ PNC Student-Athlete of the Year (2011, 2012)
➢ Second Team All-American (2012)
➢ 4-Time NCAA qualifier (2008 – 2012)