Diver Vicki Draves competes at the Olympic Games London 1948.
On August 3, 1948, Vicki Draves dived off the 3-meter springboard at the Olympic Games and into the history books, winning her first of two gold medals and becoming the first Asian American to win an Olympic medal.
Draves is being on honored on the 72-year anniversary of her achievement with an illustration on the Google homepage known as a Google Doodle. Visitors can click on the illustration to learn a little about Draves’ life and career.
Born in San Francisco to a Filipino father and an English mother, Draves didn’t even learn to swim until she was 9 or 10. As a teenager, she got the chance to learn to dive at her local swim club and fell in love with the sport. Born Victoria Manalo, she had faced racial prejudice due to her last name in finding a diving club that would accept her. She first competed under her mother’s maiden name, Taylor, later becoming Vicki Draves after marrying coach Lyle Draves in 1946.
Draves won five national championships from 1946 to 1948 and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team. In London, Draves came from behind on her last dive off the 3-meter springboard to win her historic gold medal, then added a second with her victory in the 10-meter platform three days later. Taking gold in the men’s 10-meter platform was Draves’ friend and U.S. teammate Sammy Lee, who became the first Asian American man to medal.
Draves competed in just the one Olympic Games but went on to tour professionally and run a swimming and diving training program with her husband. She also raised four sons in Southern California. Draves died of complications from pancreatic cancer at 85 in 2010.