Former figure skater Debi Thomas has revealed that she had sold her iconic bronze medal to pay back debt.

Thomas rose to fame after she became the first black athlete to ever win a medal at the Winter Olympic Games in 1988.

Read more: Winter Olympics: Kiwi Finn Bilous misses out on Ski Slopestyle final by 0.80 points

In an interview with The New York Post, to celebrate her historic performance 30 years on, Thomas revealed how her life fell apart after she rose to Olympic stardom.

Advertisement

The 50-year-old revealed that she had "lost everything to bankruptcy," including her bronze Olympic medal, and was living in a bug-infested trailer.

Her life began to fall apart in 2012, when Thomas and her partner Jamie Looney had a fight outside of their trailer.

Thomas shot off a gun in the yard to scare Looney and was quickly detained by police.

She was then given psychological evaluation and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

 Debi Thomas lives with with her fiancee Jamie Looney in a trailer. Photo / Getty
Debi Thomas lives with with her fiancee Jamie Looney in a trailer. Photo / Getty

As a result of the diagnosis and falling behind on bill payments, Thomas was forced to close her private medical practice, accumulating $600,000 of debt.

By 2014 Thomas had lost everything and was forced to sell her iconic bronze medal to the bank, which was worth about $2,200.

"I felt for Jamie because I could see it was breaking his heart, but I said, 'That medal ... I don't even put it out. It was just sitting in a box somewhere," said Thomas.

The Post reported that Thomas' devastating circumstances had not changed since then and the former star figure skater still had no steady income.

Read more: Winter Olympics: New Zealand speed skating team make semifinals, in medal hunt

Debi Thomas won bronze in the 1988 Winter Olympic women's figure skating. Photo / Getty
Debi Thomas won bronze in the 1988 Winter Olympic women's figure skating. Photo / Getty

However, demonstrating the same can-do spirit that won the hearts of viewers when she competed in the Games, Thomas said she had no regrets.

"They can take away the medal, but they can't take away the fact that I won it," she said.

"It may look (to) people on the outside like it's insane, but I don't care."

"I don't care about living in a trailer. People are so obsessed with material things, but I only care about knowledge."

Read more: Winter Olympics Day 10: Kiwis in action - All you need to know

Debi Thomas was the first black athlete to win a Olympic medal. Photo / Getty
Debi Thomas was the first black athlete to win a Olympic medal. Photo / Getty

When asked, the former Olympian said she had no interest in returning to the ice saying she became "detached from skating".

"People who are still so focused on my skating career, I'm just like, 'Come on, that was thirty years ago. Why does it matter?" said Thomas.

"I'm not proud of how I performed in the Olympics at all ... The biggest disappointment isn't that I didn't win the gold, it's that I didn't skate my best."