Long before Greg Louganis became the most famous diver of all time, a young woman from California had achieved the very accomplishment as the legend. When she came to Melbourne, Patricia Mccormick (26) had already cashed in two gold medals at the 1952 Helsinki Games (see film below). On December 3rd, 1956, she started her attempt to repeat the double - which she finally did successfully (picture: Team USA).
Already as a child, McCormick (called "Patsy Pest" by friends) was a daredevil of a diver, trying jumps considered to risky even for men and not allowed in female competitions. The Seal Beach, California native liked to show off her skills from Los Alamitos Bridge in Long Beach. "We loved to jump just before the boat passed under the bridge and we’d just splash them," she remembered.
Still, Olympic success did not come easily for McCormick. She missed the 1948 London Games by a margin of two points at the trials, which made her work even harder. In Helsinki, she was by far the best diver in the world and won both the springboard and the platform event. Back home in the States, the golden girl earned additional notoriety for putting the underwear of U,S, Olympic Comittee president Avery Brundage up on a flag pole.
Four years later (and five months after the birth of her first son), she again won relatively easy from the three meters springboard. But in the platform final, McCormick was only in fourth position with one dive to go. Climbing up the ten meters tower for her final dive, she remembered a friend's advice: "You can live a lifetime in a moment." Moments later, McCormick nailed a perfect one and a half summersault with a full twist that earned her her fourth Olympic gold (picture: China Daily).
Melbourne made the perfect glamour girl of Pat: She later worked as a model for California swimsuits, appeared on the CBS TV show "To Tell the Truth", had her own talent search foundation "Pat's Champs" and served on the organizing comittee for the 1984 Los Angeles Games. It was at these Games that Louganis's star began to shine - and that of another McCormick: Pat's daughter Kelly won a silver in springboard diving.
Patricia McCormick, who in 1965 became one of the first members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, still lives under the California sun.
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