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Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Sammy Lee



Fresno, Calif. (8/1/1920)


  • Occidental College
  • University of Southern California School of Medicine (M.D. - 1947)


  • Retired Ear, Nose and Throat Physician
  • Major - U.S. Army Medical Corps

Where They Are Now:

Retired, living in Huntington Beach, Calif. Dr. Lee is married to his wife Roz, and has two children - Pamela and Sammy II, and three grandchildren.


  • 1953 James E. Sullivan Award, awarded annually by the Amateur Athletic Union to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.
  • Member of the United States Olympic Hall of Fame – Inducted in 1990
  • Member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame – Inducted in 1968

Notable Achievements:

  • The WHOSAM Award given by USA Diving, is named after Sammy Lee. This annual award honors a diving coach and athlete who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and dedication to the highest physical, metal and spiritual ideals.
  • First American-born athlete of Korean descent to win an Olympic gold medal.
  • First diver to win two gold medals in the Olympic platform diving event.
  • Served on the President's Council for Physical Fitness during five presidential administrations.

Thing You Didn’t Know:

  • Sammy Lee introduced “The Sammy,” a small absorbent towel used by virtually all divers during practice and competition.
  • The Olympic Games were suspended in 1940 and 1944, and it was not until 1948 at the age of 28 that then Dr. Lee was able to compete in the games.
  • At the age of 32, Dr. Lee was then the oldest diver to win an Olympic gold medal.

Coaching Achievements:

  • Coached Olympic gold medalists Pat McCormick, Bob Webster, and Greg Louganis.
  • Coach of the 1960 U. S. Olympic diving team.
  • Coach of the 1964 Japanese and Korean teams.

Diving Career:

  • 1948 and 1952 Olympic Gold Medalist in Platform Diving
  • 1948 Olympic Bronze Medalist in Springboard Diving
  • 1946 National AAU Platform Champion
  • 1942 National AAU Springboard and Platform Champions
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