George Coleman (USA)
Honor Diver (1966)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1928 silver (platform), bronze (springboard); 1932 gold (springboard), silver (platform); first woman to do a 2½ somersault in competition; U.S. NATIONAL Diving Titles: 1929 through 1933 won all but one title.
“At last I’ve found a girl who will be able to do the same difficult dives the men do.” So said Hall of Famer coach Fred Cady of the Los Angeles Athletic Club on discovering Georgia Coleman, the first woman to do a 2 1/2 somersault in competition.
Georgia had been diving six months when she made the 1928 Olympic team and placed second on both springboard and tower. In 1929 she won every U.S. National diving title and in the next four years, lost only once from the one meter board. She climaxed her career by winning the 1932 Olympic springboard title and was second off the platform to Dorothy Poynton another Hall of Fame diver from California. There have been several girl divers win more than Georgia Coleman’s 11 National AAU Championships, but no one who saw her dive denies her milestone right to the Hall of Fame as the first girl to combine the men’s acrobatic strength with the women’s grace and beauty. It all adds up to skill and Georgia had it.
Coleman also had a smile that never wore off and a personality that made her the favorite wherever she would dive. When she died at the age of 29, columnist Dick Hyland concluded her obituary by writing: “She never said an uncomplimentary word about anyone. She never did a bad thing in her life. They can open the gates of heaven wide, because a champion of champions is headed that way. Aloha, nui loa, Georgia. We’ll never forget you.”