Google celebrates Fil-Am Olympic diver Vicki Draves

Vicki Draves was honored with a Google Doodle on Monday, August 3, the same day in 1948 when she became the first Asian American woman to win an Olympic medal. | Photo courtesy of Google

FILIPINA American Victoria “Vicki” Manalo-Draves was honored with a Google Doodle on Monday, August 3, on the 72nd anniversary of her winning moment at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.

Draves bagged gold medals for both the 10-meter platform and 3-meter springboard diving events, making her the first Asian American woman to win a medal at the world’s biggest sporting event and the first woman to win gold in both diving events.

She also made history as the first Asian American to win a gold medal.

Google’s homepage on Monday, August 3, showed a Doodle of Draves wearing her gold medals. Behind her was another image of a woman diving into a pool containing letters that spelled the name of the search site.

Vicki Draves | Photo courtesy of the Draves family

”Victoria Draves was born Victoria Taylor Manalo in the South of Market district of San Francisco on December 31, 1924. Growing up, she and her family often hopped on the trolley to the enormous Fleishhacker Pool to swim and watch the divers. When she was a teenager, a member of a local swim team asked if she wanted to learn to dive, and she eagerly accepted, springboarding her into the sport she went on to champion,” Google wrote on its official Doodle blog.

“After thousands of dives to perfect her form and three consecutive U.S. National Diving Championship platform titles, Draves earned a spot at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. She dominated the games one faithful leap at a time and made history as the first woman to take home the gold in both the platform and springboard events,” it added.

Google also noted that the Olympic diver’s story included her overcoming unimaginable challenges.

“Since the Pearl Harbor attacks, discrimination against Asians was fierce. She wasn’t allowed in the swanky pools and clubs around the San Francisco Bay Area. It didn’t matter that Vicki was half Filipino (not Japanese) and a contender for the Olympic Team. If she were allowed to practice in public pools, they would often drain the pool after she finished training,” an essay written by Draves’ family said.

“She was also told that in order for her to compete, she would have to use her maiden name, Taylor,” it added.

After the Olympics, Draves turned professional and competed internationally.

In 1969, she was inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 2005, Gavin Newsom, then mayor of San Francisco, dedicated the site of Vicki’s, and her twin sister Connie’s, elementary school as the Victoria Manalo Draves Park.

The Olympic diver passed in 2010 due to pancreatic cancer. She was 85 years old.

“Thank you, Vicki Draves, for inspiring people everywhere to aim high and take the plunge!” Google said.

The search engine on Friday, July 31 honored another Pinay, Pacita Abad, an artist and activist who became the first woman to receive the Philippines’ prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men award from the Junior Chamber International in Manila.

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