Kamara James, who represented team USA at the 2004 Olympic Games in fencing, died at the age of 29, The Grio reported Wednesday. The news was originally shared on USA Fencing’s website Tuesday, but her date of death and cause of death were not disclosed.
“Kamara James was one of the brightest, precocious, self-assured young people I ever met,” USA Fencing President Don Anthony wrote in a statement. “From her time as a very young fencer at the Peter Westbrook Foundation to her years at Princeton as an accomplished Olympian, she remained warm, caring and confident. Kamara’s untimely passing leaves our fencing community very saddened and her spirit, charm and wit will be dearly missed.”
James passed away in Modesto, California. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to Queens, New York, when she was 10. She went on to receive a full scholarship to Princeton, where she graduated in 2007.
James struggled with mental health problems, according to a post by Eric Rosenberg on Fencing.net. "Unfortunately, mental illness proved Kamara’s most unrelenting adversary,” he wrote Saturday. “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,” he continued. “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.”
James competed in the Olympics for the first time when she was 19 at the 2004 Athens Games. Before that, she won a bronze at the Junior World Championships in 2003.
She was described as a “shining star among her peers” in a Facebook post Sunday by the Jamaican Fencing Federation.
Currently, there is no information about funeral arrangements or a memorial service.
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