By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
The swimming, Olympic and Asian American communities are joining family and friends in mourning the death of Olympic gold medal diver Sammy Lee.
The Korean American became the first Asian American man to win an Olympic gold medal in 1948 at the London games and again in 1952 in Helsinki in the 10-meter diving competition(An earlier version of this story incorrectly said he was the first overall. Victoria Manalo Draves won gold in the same games, also in diving. She is Filipino American).
He later coached many Olympic greats including four-time gold medalist Greg Louganis who is of Samoan and Swedish descent and an LGBT activist.
“He taught me at a very early age the responsibility of being (an) ambassador to not only my sport of diving but to the world,” Louganis said in a statement. “I was only 16 at my first Olympics with him as my coach.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE: Dr. Sammy Lee, Olympic Medalist and Coach to Greg Louganis, Dies at 96
Hongping Li, the head diving coach at the University of Southern California, counts Lee as a mentor.
“I’m going to miss him as a mentor, as a loving father and a very kind human being,” said Li to CBS Los Angeles.
As with many Asian American pioneers, Lee had to overcome racism. He was only allowed to practice in a Los Angeles pool once a week, the day non-Whites were allowed to use it.
AsAmNews is an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, interning or joining our staff.