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Debi Thomas was a figure skater who went on to become the first African-American to win an Olympic medal at the Winter Olympics.
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In February of 1986, while attended Stanford University, Debi Thomas won the senior women's title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. With the victory, she became the first African-American to win a non-novice title. Thomas competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, winning the bronze and becoming the first African-American to win a medal in any Winter Olympic sport.
Athlete and physician Debi Thomas was born on March 25, 1967, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Thomas first stepped into the skating rink at the age of 5. By the age of 9, she was taking formal lessons and winning competitions. The following year, she signed on with coach Alex McGowan, who guided Thomas's career as she trained for the Olympics.
As an African-American figure skater, the judges often discriminated against Thomas, giving better marks to Thomas's competitors. She persevered, however, and at the age of 12 she advanced to the national novice finals, where she won the silver medal.
In February of 1986, while attended Stanford University, Thomas won the senior women's title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. With the victory, she became the first African-American to win a non-novice title. Thomas also continued to study medicine while she trained, a difficult task that left her exhausted and often too tired to train.
Thomas competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, winning the bronze. She became the first African-American to win a medal in any Olympic sport. Thomas earned her bachelor's degree in 1991, and retired from skating the following year to enter the medical program at Northwestern University. She is currently practicing at AP&S Clinic in Terre Haute, Indiana.
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