National Girls and Women in Sports Day: Micki King

By USA Diving | Feb. 07, 2018, 11:19 a.m. (ET)

Today we celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day with a look back at the career of one of the most influential women in sports, Micki King.

A native of Pontiac, Michigan, King graduated from the University of Michigan in 1966 where she was coached by five-time U.S. Olympic coach Dick Kimball. Under the tutelage of Kimball, King competed in two Olympic Games, two Pan American Games, and won international diving titles in 15 countries. She went on to claim the Munich 1972 Olympic Games three-meter springboard gold medal.

Her Munich gold medal story is perhaps one of the most exciting comeback stories in Olympic history, all starting at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games. King was leading the competition in Mexico City heading into the final three dives, but on the second of the remaining dives, a miscalculation caused her to hit the board and break her left arm. Despite the mishap, she gallantly tried her last dive but slipped from first place to fourth.

During the four long years between the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games, she split time between the United States Air Force and an intensive diving training program. She earned 10 national titles on the way to her second Olympic Games and didn’t miss a beat. When King reached Munich, she captured gold doing the same dive she did with a broken arm four years earlier, capping off a story of true determination and resilience.

After finishing her diving career, King went into coaching with her first stint coming at the United States Air Force Academy from 1973-77. The colonel became the first woman in NCAA history to coach a male diver to a national championship and became the first female to teach physical education at a military academy. She returned to the academy in 1983 to become the assistant athletic director, while once again coaching. She was named NCAA Division II Coach of the Year three times and coached 11 All-Americans, including two women cadets who won three national titles between them.

In 1988, she attended her third Olympic Games, this time as a staff member of the U.S. Olympic diving team in Seoul, Korea. Eight years later she served in the same capacity for the 1996 U.S. Olympic diving team at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, marking her fourth Olympic Games.

King served in the United States Air Force for 26 years, retiring as a colonel in 1992 after having served assignments in Michigan, California, Washington, Colorado, Germany and Kentucky. King also spent time in the University of Kentucky athletic department as the senior women’s administrator.

King has never quit giving back. She has served on the Board of Directors for the United States Olympic Committee and the Women’s Sports Foundation, helping create the foundation in 1974 along with Billie Jean King, Donna de Varona, and Wyomia Tyus. King is a past President of USA Diving and has been inducted into several Hall of Fames, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.