Pat McCormick, Olympic legend and greatest U.S. female diver, dies at 92

Pat McCormick
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Pat McCormick, the lone female diver to sweep the individual springboard and platform golds at multiple Olympics, has died at age 92, according to USA Diving.

McCormick died in an assisted living home on Tuesday in Orange County, California, according to the Seal Beach Sun.

McCormick won both individual diving events at the Olympics in 1952 and 1956, doing so the second time after the birth of son Tim earlier that year.

As a young teen, McCormick would dive off the Naples Canal Bridge in Southern California, aiming to splash people on boats, which led to phone calls to the police, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum.

In structured diving, she performed dives disallowed in women’s competition due to their perceived level of difficulty, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

McCormick said she was motivated by missing the 1948 Olympic team by a small margin at age 18.

“From that moment on, I knew I wanted to not [only] go on to the next Olympics, but I knew I wanted to do something that no one has ever done, and that’s to try to compete in two Olympics and win the double-double,” she said.

As the 1952 Helsinki Games approached, McCormick gained more competitive drive. She said others tapped Zoe Ann Olsen, the 1948 Olympic springboard silver medalist, as the event favorite after Olsen unretired.

“That just made me furious,” McCormick said.

After winning both golds in Finland, McCormick continued her training — 100 dives per day, six days per week — and also swam a half-mile per day until two days before her son was born in 1956.

“When I first saw Pat McCormick dive, I said, oh boy, that gal will never make it,” fellow Olympic diving champion Sammy Lee said, pointing out several flaws in her technique. “But that girl, she worked so hard, and she was so determined. That’s what makes her great. She has determination, and she was one tremendous competitor.

“The only problem with Pat is if everybody dived lousy, Pat dived lousy. If everybody dived like an Olympic champion, Pat dived better. She’s got that kind of competitive instinct. She’s not going to let anybody beat her.”

As the 1956 Melbourne Games approached, McCormick juggled motherhood with Olympic prep. Her husband and coach, Glenn, also began coaching other members of the U.S. team who had come to train with them.

“It was really difficult because here I was, training for the Olympics myself,” she said. “I had a small child. I was fixing breakfast for [the other divers], and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I’m the star, supposedly. Something’s got to be done about this. They should be helping me.'”

In her final Olympic event, McCormick rallied from fourth place going into the finals, the last two of five platform dives.

“I’ll never forget riding back in the bus [going into the finals], I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “The girl that was in first place was my teammate. I really had to make peace with myself, and I had to feel that whatever happened, I would be happy with the result. Well I went into the competition, and I did two of the best dives I’ve ever done.

“I realized that I had won everything there is to win.”

In retirement, she traveled the world with fellow Olympic champions like Jesse Owens, modeled, earned a nursing degree, traversed the Amazon River and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

She also established a non-profit foundation to help high-risk children stay in school and attend college.

McCormick held the U.S. female record of four career Olympic gold medals for 36 years until sprinter Evelyn Ashford and swimmer Janet Evans matched her in 1992. Speed skater Bonnie Blair broke the record in 1994.

McCormick and countryman Greg Louganis are the only divers to win the springboard and the platform at multiple Olympics.

McCormick held the Olympic record of four diving gold medals alone until Louganis tied it in 1988.

They shared the record until synchronized diving events were added to the Olympic program in 2000, increasing the number of diving events from two to four.

McCormick’s daughter, Kelly, won Olympic springboard diving silver and bronze medals in 1984 and 1988.

Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth

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Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Women
Gold: Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 224.61
Silver: Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 220.94
Bronze: Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 210.42
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 207.65
5. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 205.70
6. Kim Chae-Yeon (KOR) — 203.51
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 197.76
8. Kimmy Repond (SUI) — 194.09
9. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 193.49
10. Rinka Watanabe (JPN) — 192.81
12. Amber Glenn (USA) — 188.33
15. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 184.14

Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Pairs
Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

Ice Dance (Rhythm Dance)
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 91.94
2. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) — 88.21
3. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 87.34
4. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) — 86.56
5. Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN) — 85.59
6. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons (USA) — 78.74
7. Allison Reed/Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) — 78.70
8. Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis (FIN) — 76.97
9. Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) — 76.56
10. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) — 75.24
11. Kana Muramoto/Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) — 72.92

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