American diving champion Sammy Lee enters the water, his upper body completely rigid with straining muscles, during the 1948 Olympics, London, England, August 6, 1948. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
Dr. Samuel (“Sammy”) Lee (born August 1, 1920) is the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States and the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic platform diving. His dream of becoming an Olympic diver was not easy; because of discriminatory policies, he could only practice at the local training pool the one day a week when non-whites were allowed in (astoundingly, after the non-white day, the pool was entirely drained and refilled with “clean” water). When he couldn’t use the pool, Lee would practice jumping into a sand pit.