Dr. Sammy Lee is the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States.
Sammy was born on August 1, 1920 in Fresno, California and is of Korean descent. At the age of twelve, he dreamed of becoming a diver.
Unfortunately, due to racial discrimination, people of color were only allowed to use the pool one day a week (Wednesday.....the day before they drained the pool for cleaning). However, this did not keep Sammy from working toward his goal of becoming an Olympian.
His coach dug him a pit in the backyard and filled it with sand......and that is where he practiced during the week until the following Wednesday.
Despite the hurdles and racial discrimination he faced, Sammy fulfilled his dreams. He won his first gold medal in the 10 meter platform dive and then a bronze medal in the 3 meter springboard during the 1948 London Olympics. He then returned to the Olympics in 1952 and won his second gold medal in the 10 meter platform dive, making him the first man ever to win back to back gold medal in Olympic platform diving.
After the Olympics, Sammy went on to become an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor and served in the United States Army Medical Corps during the Korean War.
Later, he coached the US diving team, mentoring future Olympians such as Greg Louganis, and he is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Thank you Sammy!