Student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School trains to join 2020 Olympics
Kamali Thompson, a fourth-year student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has been training to join the 2020 Olympics while also studying to become an orthopedic surgeon, according to an article on The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Thompson is from Teaneck, New Jersey, and was recruited to Temple University for fencing, according to the article. She was a four-time NCAA championship qualifier, a second team All-American and the first four-time NIWFA conference champion.
Thompson also graduated with honors while being named Temple’s Student Athlete of the Year in both 2011 and 2012, according to the article.
“I think what stood out to me the most was her desire to improve,” said Nikki Franke, Thompson’s fencing coach at Temple, according to the article. “She came to us a good fencer, but became an outstanding fencer. In the time she was here, the improvement was quite noticeable, and that was a result of her hard work and ability to balance her academics with her athletics.”
Her mother wanted her to fence to increase her chances at a college scholarship, according to the article. Thompson said it was not something she wanted to do and thought fencers looked nerdy.
“Fencing just looks so weird, and if you don’t know what’s going on, you’re like ‘What’s happening?’” Thompson said, according to the article. “I just didn’t understand it, and I wasn’t feeling it at all.”
Thompson entered a statewide competition and was determined to get better after finishing outside of the top spots, according to the article.
Her coach advised her to join the Peter Westbrook Foundation, which was a fencers club that gave minorities the opportunity to fence and learn about the sport, according to the article. Thompson joined the organization her junior year of high school.
Thompson is currently competing in 12 qualifying events that lead to the 2020 Olympics, according to the article. The events take place in Tunisia, Russia, Greece, the United States and other countries.
She is waiting to finish her last six months of medical school at Rutgers University, as she is currently in third and projected to make it to Tokyo, according to the article.
“That was just unrealistic for me to think I could be gone for two weeks every month in a different time zone, come back, and finish whatever schoolwork I have to do,” Thompson said, according to the article.
Her brother, Khalil Thompson, is also a fencer in position to possibly qualify for the Olympics, according to the article.
“I never thought it would happen,” Kamali Thompson said, according to the article. “It’s really special because we have a lot of competitions that we go to together. I look around and see all the other fencers by themselves, but me and my brother, we go together.”
Due to Kamali Thompson’s position as a medical student, she is nicknamed “the doctor” by other fencers, according to the article.
Kamali Thompson will learn if she makes the Olympic team in April after a competition in Korea, according to the article. If she makes it, she plans to finish her final six months of medical school in August.
“In four years, I hope to say I’m an Olympian, an Olympic medalist and I hope to say that I’m in one of the top orthopedic surgeon programs,” Kamali Thompson said, according to the article.
Alongside Kamali Thompson, Rutgers wrestler Nick Suriano is also qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Team Trials, according to an article on NJ Advance Media.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that Kamali Thompson was a student at Rutgers Medical School.
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