Currently going the rounds in Filipino chat rooms was the recent feat of Natalie Coughlin, 24, of
Natalie is half Filipino (her dad is American and her mother is from the
Sometime in the past I witnessed an exhibit at the Main Library of Long Beach, California, highlighting the contributions of Filipino-Americans in the development of
Then there was an article in the SFO Chronicle about Vicki Manalo Draves, a Filipino American who won two gold medals in diving at the 1948 Olympic Games in
Here's a portion of that SFO Chronicle item by Kathleen Sullivan and Cicero Estrella:
Vicki Manalo and her twin sister, Consuelo, attended
"Back then, our only summer vacation was to take the street car out to Fleishhacker Pool, which was right by the ocean,'' Draves, 80, recalled in a recent telephone interview from her home in Palm Springs.
"We would play in the pool and go into the ocean. They also had a grassy area where people congregated and had picnic lunches. Some of the adagio dancers -- who would lift girls into the air and swing them around -- would be out there practicing.
"The men's diving team from the Olympic Club used to go out there and practice. One of the divers asked me if I might be interested in learning how to dive. I said: Oh, you bet I would.''
At 16, she began training under Phil Patterson, who ran the Fairmont Swimming and Diving Club on Nob Hill. "Instead of including me in the club, which everyone else belonged to, he formed a 'special' club just for me -- the Patterson School of Swimming and Diving," she recalled. "I think he was a prejudiced man. It wasn't special for me. It was his way of separating me from the others."
Patterson also told the teenager to use her mother's maiden name,
"My mother consented because she felt that was what was best for me at the time," Draves said. "But I never asked my dad about it. I think my dad must have been very hurt by that. He didn't say anything, but I could imagine that he did not feel good about it."
By the time she won her first national championship at 19, while diving for another club in
In 1944, she began training at the Athens Athletic Club in
Two years later, Draves made history as the first woman to win both the springboard and platform diving titles at a single Olympics. She was 23 years old.
Some say she was destined to win, because her first name,
Draves has received many honors since that momentous day in Wembley Stadium in
Nearly 60 years after the Olympics, she still gets requests for autographs.
Her Filipino American fans in
"I'm quite honored to be considered,'' she said. "I'm glad it's happening while I'm still here.''
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