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Where EAST meets the Northwest


ATHLETE & COACH. American Sammy Lee enters the water at the end of a back dive at the Empire Pool in Wembley, London, on August 4, 1948 during the menís Olympic Games high-diving competition. (AP Photo)

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #24 (December 19, 2016), page 7.

Sammy Lee, two-time Olympic diving champion, dies at 96

LOS ANGELES (AP) ó Sammy Lee, a two-time Olympic gold medal-winning diver who later mentored four-time Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, has died. He was 96 years old.

The University of Southern California (USC) said Lee died of pneumonia in Newport Beach. He was the schoolís oldest living Olympian.

The five-foot Lee, who was of Korean descent, was the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S.

Lee became the first man to win consecutive Olympic titles in platform diving in 1948 and 1952 and was the oldest diver at age 32 to win Olympic gold. He also earned a bronze in three-meter springboard at the 1948 Games.

Lee later coached Olympic diving champions Pat McCormick and Louganis, who swept the springboard and platform events at the 1984 and í88 Olympics. Lee coached the U.S. team at the 1960 and í64 Olympics.

He remained an active swimmer and golfer into his 90s.

Lee was the AAU national champion in platform and springboard diving in 1942, becoming the first person of color to win a national diving title, and in platform in 1946. He won the 1953 Sullivan Award as the nationís top amateur athlete.

He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990.

After attending Occidental College in Los Angeles, he graduated from the USC School of Medicine in 1947 and became an ear, nose, and throat physician. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the Korean War.

Sammy Lee Square in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles was named in his honor in 2010. In 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District named one of its elementary schools the Dr. Sammy Lee Medical and Health Sciences Magnet School.

Lee is survived by his wife, Roz, children Pamela and Sammy II, and three grandchildren.

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