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Summer Olympics History: American Greats in Men's Diving Before World War II

The U.S. Reigned Supreme in Men's Diving

Yahoo Contributor Network


Diving took its place as an Olympic sport in 1904, and has been an integral part of each Summer Games to the present. In Olympic diving competitions prior to World War II, the events and rules changed a number of times, with divers competing at various heights and in long-discontinued events, until the resumption of the Games in 1948 brought essentially the standards we are accustomed to now.

The U.S. has an overwhelming lead in the overall diving medal table, with 49 golds among its 135 medals. China is in second place with 33 golds and 59 total medals, but has made great strides in narrowing the gap with the U.S. since it first placed divers in Olympic competition in 1984.

The following list takes a look at several of the best American men in Olympic diving in the 1920s and '30s:

Richard Degener: Degener was a standout diver for the U.S. in the 1930s. Specializing in the springboard, he won bronze in the 3-meter event in 1932, and improved upon that finish in '36 with gold at the Berlin Games.

Pete Desjardins: Desjardins got his Olympic career off to a good start in 1924 at the age of 17 by winning the silver in the 3-meter springboard. He became a diving star four years later by capturing gold in both the 3-meter event and the 10-meter platform.

Michael Galitzen: Galitzen put together an illustrious career in diving, including four Olympic podium finishes. His greatest achievement was gold in the 3-meter springboard in 1932 at the Los Angeles Games.

Clarence Pinkston: Pinkston was the best of America's divers in the first half of the 1920s. He won four medals between the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, with the gold in the 10-meter platform in 1920 being at the top of his list of accomplishments.

Harold Smith: Smith earned two podium finishes in diving in 1932, including the silver in the 3-meter springboard and the gold in the 10-meter platform to thrill the home crowd in Los Angeles.

Marshall Wayne: Wayne achieved Olympic glory in 1936 with gold in the 10-meter platform and silver in the 3-meter springboard, as the U.S. took five of the six men's diving medals awarded in Berlin.

Albert White: In addition to his diving prowess, White was a star gymnast and used both to his advantage in Olympic diving. He won golds in the 3-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform at the 1924 Olympics.

Related content: Summer Olympics History: American Greats in Women's Diving Before World War II

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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