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Ben Thompson: The Making of a Champion

A Boeing South Carolina teammate has earned a prestigious honor: 2019 Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year after becoming the world champion and number one-ranked male compound Paralympic archer.

Ben Thompson is a Quality Systems specialist at the Interiors Responsibility Center South Carolina (IRCSC). He’s worked for Boeing for 10 years starting as a contractor in North Charleston who worked on the 787 Dreamliner in Midbody, later Aft then Final Assembly and now IRCSC. Thompson has worked on various Quality teams in his tenure and has enjoyed each challenge and assignment, which he says has prepared him for each move. But, nothing could have prepared him for what happened one day on his drive into work.

In 2010, Thompson was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. During his recovery, doctors advised him to find a hobby to keep his mind and body active.

“2013 is when I first picked up the bow for the very first time in a wheelchair and [asked myself], ‘Is this something I want to do? Can I do this? Do I want to devote the time to it?’ said Thompson. “And then, do I just want to do it for fun or do I really want to try at a higher goal?”

It didn’t take long for Thompson to answer those questions and realize fairly quickly it would become more than a hobby. In 2014 he qualified for the U.S. national team and went to Argentina to compete where he took home bronze. Next, Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015 where he won an individual bronze, and then Team USA took home gold at the 2015 world champions in Germany. In 2017, the team won bronze in China at the World Championships where Thompson also won an individual bronze medal. This year, in the Netherlands, Thompson won gold becoming the number one-ranked men’s compound Paralympic archer in the world, and led the U.S. team to a world record.

“It’s still hard to fathom that I actually won a world championship and that currently I’m still sitting as number one in the world when I didn’t even think that was possible,” said Thompson.

It’s a combination of hard work, discipline, attention to detail and an insistence on quality – the same values he brings to his job as a Quality Systems specialist — leveraging a Be Excellent work ethic that pushes him to improve. Even as a world champion, this is still his regimen.

“When you win, you’re so excited with the win you stay stagnant and don’t change anything,” said Thompson. “Meanwhile everyone around you is changing and getting better. You realize, ‘If I sit on this couch, how many people aren’t sitting on this couch saying, ‘I’m going to beat you today?”

Thompson says that shift, now in defense of his top spot, fuels his energy and passion to continue to improve; but for now, he is enjoying his hard-fought victory and world champion title.

Watch this video to see more about Thompson’s story.