Former Temple fencer has Olympic aspirations

Kamali Thompson fenced for Temple from 2008-12 and holds the school record for sabre wins.

Kamali Thompson, a 2012 biology alumna, competes at the 2017 New York Women’s Sabre World Cup. Thompson fenced for Temple from 2008-12. | DEVIN MANKY / COURTESY

Kamali Thompson has been all over the world.

Thompson, a former Temple sabre and 2012 biology alumna, has been to Europe, Africa, and Asia for fencing World Cups. 

Thompson is striving for a spot in the ultimate competition — the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

“Going to the Olympics is pretty much every athlete’s dream,” Thompson said. “It would mean the world to me if I made the team.”

Thompson decided she wanted to compete in the Olympics during her senior year at Temple, she said.

She has been training to earn a spot on the United States national team since she graduated in 2012, she said. Thompson typically trains twice a day, five days a week at the Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York City.

Since 2012, Thompson has competed on the U.S. travel team, in which the top-12 fencers in each of the three weapons compete in the World Cup. At the end of the season, the top four fencers qualify for the national team. Thompson is currently ranked seventh.

Thompson knew she wanted to keep fencing after college, so she decided to compete internationally. 

“If I was gonna keep fencing, I had to shoot for a big goal,” Thompson said. “Or else, it didn’t really make sense to keep fencing.”

In 2012, Thompson enrolled in Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and is still in the program today. While in medical school, Thompson enrolled in the Rutgers Business School to earn her masters in business administration. Thompson hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon.

Balancing school and fencing can be “difficult,” Thompson said, so she took a year off from medical school to focus her all of her time on training for the Olympics.

“There’s a lot of scheduling involved,” Thompson said. “I think a really important part is to know when everything is due. It’s not something you can just flunk through the day and do whatever you feel like doing. You have to be really structured about making sure you complete all of your tasks.”

During her career at Temple, Thompson compiled a record of 175-48. She holds the program record for most career victories by a sabre. Thompson finished with a record of 50-14 and earned Second Team All-American honors during her senior season in 2011-12.

“[Thompson] had a very strong ethic, “ said Coach Nikki Franke. “She was very aggressive. She was good at analyzing what was going on on the strip.”

Franke inspired her to train for the Olympics, Thompson said. Franke is a former Olympian who qualified for the 1976 and 1980 Summer Olympics.

“It’s very exciting for us as a program,” Franke added. “I’m very proud of [Thompson]. She’s an amazing young woman and has accomplished so many things already in her life. This is just one more thing she’s pursuing.”

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