64.1 F
New York
Sunday, June 4, 2023



SAMMY LEE (2013)

Sammy Lee (2013 New American Hero Award – Dr. Sammy Lee

Good Neighboring Foundation presented the New American Hero Award to Dr. Sammy Lee at America Korea Friendship Society 2013 annual banquet at Renaissance Waverly Hotel on March 2.2013.

Dr. Sammy Lee was honored with the 2013 New American Hero Award by America Korea Friendship Society (AKFS) affiliated to Good Neighboring Foundation at a banquet.

Dr. Lee who is currently 92 years old was 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.

General (Retired) Larry Ellis, Chairman of AKFS, awarded the new American Hero Award along with a $10,000 cash check to Dr. Lee. The cash award will be donated by Dr. Lee to the University of Southern California fund for building a new aquatic and diving center.

In a moving speech, a former trainee of Colonel (Retired) Jim Stapleton recounts the inspiration and training given to him in diving. Col. Stapleton saluted Dr. Lee’s accomplishment and the inspiration that instilled in him as a young man.
In another surprise ceremony, AD Frazier, former COO of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Committee, shared insights and spirit of the 1996 Games. He later presented the Korean national flag which flew at the 1996 Olympics to Sunny K. Park. President of AKFS as a gift.
“This is a wonderful gift that should belong to the Korean American community in Georgia. I want to present it to Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta for their safekeeping,” said Sunny K. Park.

In a moving acceptance speech, Dr. Lee shared stories of perseverance amidst difficulties, especially relating to racial discrimination towards him as an Asian American.
While pursuing his dream of diving, Dr. Lee faced many obstacles including a regular practice venue as non-whites were not allowed to use the public pool except one day each week before the pool was scheduled to be drained and refilled with clean water. As a result, his coach dug a pit in his backyard and filled it with sand so that he could practice by jumping into the pit.

Dr. Lee achieved his dream of winning medals at the Olympic by becoming the first non-white diving champion in the U.S. He won the gold medal in the 10m platform diving and the bronze medal in springboard diving in the 1948 games. He defended his title in the 1952 games, winning the gold medal in the 10m platform diving.
His accomplishment was not limited to the athletic fields. Dr. Lee was a student-athlete at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, where he received his M.D. in 1947. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Korea from 1053-1955, where he specialized in the diseases of the ear.
In 1953, while serving his tour of duty in Korea, he won the James E. Sullivan Award, which is awarded annually by the Amateur Athletic Union to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.
Dr. Lee went on to coach Olympic divers including Pat McCormick, Bob Webster, and Greg Louganis. He is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
He urged young Korean Americans to embrace and be proud of their Korean heritage. He shared his personal experience where his father advise him to dream bigger and strive boldly towards his goal.

“Son. if you are not proud of the shaper of your eyes and the color of your skin, then who can respect you?’ recalls the advice given to him by his father.
Source: Georgia Asian Times (3/2/2013)

Previous articleJOHN OH (2011)
Next articleJAMES SUH (2015)

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


2023 New American Hero Awardspot_img

Latest Articles