Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Notes RE: Dr. Sammy Lee

Sad weekend news: Olympic diving champion Dr. Sammy Lee died in California at age 96, as reported by the LA Times.

I shared a fun, albeit brief, conversation with Lee at USA House in London during the 2012 Games. On an evening that included several Olympians visiting the house, including Shannon Miller and Prince Albert of Monaco, I spotted Lee attentively watching Olympic diving live on the monitors.  

Seated on a plush couch arranged in the center of the venue's main room, Lee explained he had returned to USA House from an afternoon diving preliminary, citing he was exhausted from the commute across the pond.

I don't recall the questions posed to him -- likely centered around his coaching with Greg Louganis at Seoul 1988 (see video) -- trying to ask only during breaks in the on-screen diving action, but his response after about my third question stuck with me.

He nodded off mid-sentence.

Later in the evening, as the night's gathering was winding down and visitors made their way outdoors to await hotel transportation, Lee spotted me and apologized for dozing. We spoke about the divers on screen and that was pretty much it.

Reading the online tributes to his decades-long career, I regret not being better versed in Lee's credentials -- would like to have asked more about 1948 and 1952, coaching later athletes, his role (if any) with LA84, and his contributions to other Olympic bids, including LA2024, which Tweeted the organization's condolences on Lee's passing.

One of the Tweet responses was a follower's suggestion that an LA2024 venue bear the name "Sammy Lee Aquatics Center." I kinda like the sound of that.

Photo via Olympic.org

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