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First Asian-American Woman to Win Olympic Gold Medal Gets New Recognition

Victoria Manalo Draves, the first American woman to win two gold medals in springboard and platform diving at the 1948 Olympics, will be honored in San Francisco this weekend.

Draves was also the first woman of Filipino heritage to win an Olympic gold medal.

1948 Olympic Games. London, England. Springboard Diving. United States medal winning trio stand on the podium during the medals ceremony. L-R: P. Esner (silver), Vicky Draves (gold) and Z. Olsen (bronze).
1948 Olympic Games, London, England, Springboard Diving, United States medal winning trio stand on the podium during the medals ceremony, L-R: P, Esner (silver), Vicky Draves (gold) and Z, Olsen (bronze) Popperfoto / Popperfoto/Getty Images

Draves was born in 1924 in San Francisco’s South of Market area, still a key landing area for Filipino immigrants in the Bay Area. In 2006, on the site where she attended elementary school, the city named a park in her honor.

Draves died in 2010 at the age of 85.

On October 10, the city will place a plaque at the park that bears her name in honor of her Olympic triumphs.

Draves did not begin diving until high school at age 16. She initially sought training at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel Swimming and Diving Club, but was rejected because of her Filipino name, according to the New York Times.

She was able to compete after she changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name, Taylor.

1948 Olympic Games. London, England. Springboard Diving. USA's Vicky Draves with her gold medal. She also won a gold medal in the Highboard event.
1948 Olympic Games, London, England, Springboard Diving, USA's Vicky Draves with her gold medal, She also won a gold medal in the Highboard event Popperfoto / Popperfoto/Getty Images

“Victoria Manalo Draves was a brilliant athlete and a great role model for both women and Asian American communities,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes Victoria Manalo Draves Park, in a press release Thursday.

Saturday's plaque unveiling will begin with the National Anthems of both the United States and the Philippines.