Flipping through the photos of the 1948 London Olympics, two things stand out. The first is how diverse the U.S. team was for that time. Sure, Jesse Owens was dominating the Berlin Olympics the previous decade. But I didn’t know about Asian-American divers like Vicki Draves and Sammy Lee. I’d forgotten Alice Coachman, the first African-American woman to win gold. Which raises the second point: The women athletes across the board were total badasses.
Okay, yes, that photo of Vicki Draves has a “Mad Men” vibe to it; and the woman who was perhaps the biggest star of the Olympics was nicknamed “The Flying Housewife.” But check out Fanny Blankers-Koen, “The Flying Housewife,” in action. The nickname seems even more demeaning, no? The Dutch Blankers-Koen won a total of four gold medals in track in the ‘48 Games. And Hungary’s Olga Gyarmati looks vaguely like Lucille Ball, if you gave Lucy ripped quads and sent her soaring over the long jump pit.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.