As work continues on the $16 million upgrade to the renamed Uytengsu Aquatics Center at USC, it was announced yesterday that the diving platform, which is part of the renovation, will be renamed after Dr. Sammy Lee, with the official announcement coming on August 1st: his 93rd birthday.
Lee was the Olympic Champion on the 10 meter platform at both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, and also scored bronze on the 3-meter springboard in London…that’s London 1948.
Not only was he the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medalist for the United States and the first man to win the platform event in back-to-back years, but he is the oldest surviving Olympic champion in the world. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Korea, is in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, was named the James E. Sullivan Award winner by the AAU as the most outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S., and coached three Olympic divers, including the legendary Greg Louganis. He was a celebrated Korean-American in a time where Americans’ relationship with those of Asian decent fell somewhere between ‘hateful’ and ‘tepid,’ especially in his native California, where even after his success, he was unable to buy a home in Orange County.
USC Athletics is seeking to raise $200,000 to name the new diving tower, more than half of which has already been raised by the “Friends of Sammy.”