Feb. 27: First Black Athlete Wins Medal at Winter Olympics on This Date in 1988

0 Posted by - February 27, 2022 - BLACK WOMEN, On This Date, SPORTS

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Getty Images

Debra Janine Thomas (a.k.a. Debi Thomas) was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on March 25, 1967.

Thomas (pictured) is a physician and former Olympic figure skater. She is a two-time US national champion, a 1986 World champion, and a 1988 Olympic bronze winner. She was the first black athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics and win a medal. Thomas resigned from amateur skating after winning the bronze medal at the World Championships on February 27, 1988.

Thomas won the 1988 World Professional Championships in Landover, Maryland, while performing for Stars on Ice. In 1989 and 1991, she also won the championship. Thomas was the only woman in the top 22 in the Q Score athlete rankings in February 1989. In 2000, she was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

President George W. Bush also named her to the U.S. Delegation for the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Turin, Italy, among previous Olympians Dorothy Hamill, Eric Heiden, Kerri Strug, and Herschel Walker. Thomas returned to the ice for “The Caesars Tribute: A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating” for a short appearance.

Many of the biggest legends and idols of American figure skating participated in this event.

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