Louis Zamperini

World War II hero, Olympian Louis Zamperini to be Rose Parade grand marshal (video)

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Louis Zamperini, the 1936 Olympian and World War II prisoner of war, will be the grand marshal of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day 2015, the Tournament of Roses said Friday.

“It is such an honor to be the grand marshal of the 126th Rose Parade,” Zamperini, 97, said in a press release. “Growing up in Torrance, the parade route on Colorado Boulevard is one I have been familiar with my whole life. I look forward to sharing the experience with my family and all the fans of the Rose Parade who will be watching.”

Zamperini placed eighth in the 5000m at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1943, as an Army bombardier, he survived 47 days in the Pacific Ocean with two other men after their military plane crashed and then two years at a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

His story is the subject of the best-selling book, “Unbroken,” which is being made into a film directed by Angelina Jolie that was scheduled to be released later this year.

“I made a new friend — Angelina Jolie,” Zamperini, wearing a red USC Trojans cap and navy blue U.S. Olympic Team jacket, said Friday. “The gal really loves me. She hugs me and kisses me ’til I can’t complain.”

Past Rose Parade grand marshals include Olympic champions Carl Lewis and Shannon Miller in 1997.

IOC shoots down British report that Rio Games could be moved

Elana Meyers Taylor crashes, brakewoman ejected (video)

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Two-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor‘s start to the World Cup bobsled season was both record-breaking and painful.

Meyers Taylor and brakewoman Kehri Jones had the fastest women’s start time ever recorded on the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, B.C., on Saturday.

But only one of them made it to the finish.

Meyers Taylor crashed the sled during their first run, with the impact causing Jones to eject out the back and slide along the chute before coming to a stop.

Both athletes were able to walk off the track, according to U.S. Bobsled.

Meyers Taylor missed four races last season while receiving treatment for long-term effects from a January 2015 concussion. She returned to win at the last two stops.

MORE: Why Steven Holcomb mulled retirement

Diver Sammy Lee, first Asian-American male gold medalist, dies at 96

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  1948 and 1952 Olympic platform diving gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee and Olympic diving hopeful Brittany Viola of the United States attend the Team USA Road to London 100 Days Out Celebration in Times Square on April 18, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for USOC)
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Dr. Sammy Lee, the first Asian-American man to win an Olympic gold medal and first male diver to repeat as Olympic champion, died of pneumonia at age 96 on Friday, according to the University of Southern California.

Lee was born in Fresno, Calif., of Korean parents.

He unretired from a medical career to compete in his first Olympics in London in 1948, after the Games took a 12-year break due to World War II.

Lee earned platform gold and springboard bronze in 1948 and then retired, unretired and defended his platform title in 1952. Lee and another Asian-American, Victoria Manolo-Draves, who had a Filipino father and English mother, both won diving titles in 1948, with Draves’ springboard gold coming first.

Lee also served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War.

He succeeded despite facing racial discrimination. From TeamUSA.org:

When Sammy was growing up, non-whites could use the pool where he practiced one day a week, on Wednesdays only. And then, as he has told it, the pool would be emptied after the non-whites used it, and fresh water was brought in the next day.

When the pool was off-limits, Sammy practiced by jumping into a sand pile.

Lee went on to coach divers, including Greg Louganis, after his competitive career, and continued his medical work. He graduated from USC’s medical school in 1947.

He is a member of the U.S. Olympic and International Swimming Halls of Fame.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously reported Lee was the first Asian-American Olympic champion. He was the second.