On this day in 1986, Debi Thomas became the first African-American U.S. National Figure Skating champion


Debi Thomas of the United States shows off the gold medal she won at the World Figure Skating Championship in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 21, 1986. Thomas, the first ever black woman to win this title, defeated defending East German champion Katarina Witt. (AP Photo)
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On February 8, 1986, Debi Thomas, a figure skater, made history by becoming the first African-American to win the Women’s Singles title at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship. This achievement occurred while she was pursuing her pre-med studies at Stanford University.

In addition to her national success, Thomas also etched her name in Winter Olympics history by winning a bronze medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, making her the first African-American to medal in any Winter Olympic sport.

Born in 1967, in Poughkeepsie, New York, Thomas started skating at the young age of five. After retiring from skating in 1992, she pursued medical studies at Northwestern University, graduating in 1997. Today, she practices medicine as a physician in Virginia.

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