Jamaican born Olympic Fencer dies at 29

Jamaican-born Olympic Fencer Kamara James, who represented the USA at the 2004 Olympic Games, has died at the tender age of 29.

The sad news of her passing was posted on the USA Fencing website and various social media pages yesterday (October 14).

It is still unclear how she died. Kamara passed away in Modesto, California. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, before moving to Queens, New York, at the age of 10. She earned a full scholarship to Princeton, where she graduated in 2007.

A story by Eric Rosenberg on portrayed Kamara as a very resilient individual despite having a very challenging life.


“Kamara was a survivor; of abuse, of neglect, of poverty and of homelessness. I will not recount the sordid details of all that she endured. All her life, she refused to be defined by her suffering, but rather by her successes. At the beginning of her senior year at Princeton, Kamara had herself admitted to a psychiatric hospital and received a diagnosis of schizophrenia.After only three months of treatment, she was released and returned to school. In a single semester, she managed to complete one year’s worth of credits in addition to a 120 page senior thesis and graduate on time. Subsequently, Harvard University admitted her to a Master’s program in comparative religion. Unfortunately, mental illness proved Kamara’s most unrelenting adversary. Still, just prior to her death, she had resumed a stable drug regimen, was living comfortably and had begun thinking about the future.

The world will never know what Kamara James was capable of accomplishing had she not been so cruelly afflicted. Yet we who knew her, and loved her, will forever celebrate what she did in a life too short, and mourn what might have been. 

Image of Kamara James fencer
Photo of Kamara James Image Source:

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