by Guest Contributor Jen Wang, originally published at Disgrasian
The last time the Olympics were in London in 1948 was also the first time an Asian American won a gold medal in the Games. That distinction belongs to 91 year-old Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, who was born in Fresno, CA, and is of Korean descent.
Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, 91, was the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S. at the 1948 London games, and the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic platform diving.
As a twelve-year-old in 1932, Lee dreamed of becoming a diver, but at the time Latinos, Asians, and African-Americans were only allowed to use Fresno’s Brookside Pool on Wednesdays, on what was called “international day”: the day before the pool was scheduled to be drained and refilled with clean water. Because Lee needed a place to practice and could not regularly use the public pool, his coach dug a pit in his backyard and filled it with sand. Lee practiced by jumping into the pit.
Lee went on to become an ear, nose, and throat doc, serve in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War–wonder what that was like for a Korean American–and, later, coach diving legend Greg Louganis to a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics. He’s a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, has a square named after him in LA’s K-town, and is now retired and living in Huntington Beach, CA.
What a life.
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- Video: President Obama’s Speech At Nelson Mandela Memorial
- What names are normal? Shifting the center of the world
- Will Black Woman-Directed Docs Make it to the Oscars?
- Quoted: A South African Muslim Woman’s Memories of Mandela
- Rumour Mill: Casting for the Man of Steel sequel and CW’s The Flash pilot
- Open Thread: Scandal S03 E09: ‘YOLO’
- The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- Voices: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black celebrities comedy diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity interracial relationships Kerry Washington latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion Scandal sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes True Blood tv Uncategorized white youtube