Born in New York in 1967, Olympian Debi Thomas started ice skating at an early age.
She grew up in San Jose, Calif. where her interest in the sport first began. Thomas attributed most of her success to her mother who sacrificed to drive her more than 100 miles a day between home, school, and the ice rink.
At the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, she became the first African American to win a non-novice title, winning the World Championships that same year.
Two years later, On Feb. 27, Thomas competed at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, winning the bronze medal and becoming the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. She was named to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000.
Debi Thomas pursued higher education while continuing to skate competitively. She received her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Stanford University, after which time she went on to pursue a medical degree.
In 1997, she graduated from Northwestern University Medical School and currently works as an orthopedic surgeon.
Thomas proved to be just as driven in her career as a doctor as she was as a skater. After completing her residency at Charles R. Drew University in Watts, she received a fellowship at Centinela Hospital’s Dorr Arthritis Institute in Inglewood. In 2010, Thomas opened her own practice in Virginia, specializing in knee and hip replacements.