1st Fil-Am Olympic gold medalist nominated to sports hall of fame

SAN FRANCISCO – The first Filipina American Olympic gold medalist and San Francisco native Victoria Manalo Draves was recently nominated to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Born to an English mother and Filipino father, Draves faced discrimination in her diving career.

Despite the opposition, Draves became the first woman in Olympic history to win gold medals in the springboard and platform diving competition during the 1948 Olympics.

Another Filipina American is continuing her work to honor Draves through film.

Georgina Tolentino is producing and starring as Draves in a biopic that may be released in 2017.

In preparation for the film, Tolentino says she spends 10-15 hours a week training in diving, gymnastics and ballet to mimic Drave’s grace and to truly understand what it means to be a diver.

“Being able to learn a specific set of dives has also been quite a challenge because I’m afraid of heights and drowning like she was but it’s also an aerial sport. It’s not a water sport,” said Tolentino. “Diving is not an easy sport and I think it would not do it any justice to the character and to her accomplishments if I did not understand what these Olympic athletes have dedicated their lives to do.”

Tolentino also says Draves’ story of triumph over the odds should be known to more Filipinas.

“I think it’s so important for women and specifically Filipino women to know a story like this growing up just because they know they can be more than what they are told they can be,” said Tolentino. “They could be an Olympian. They could be strong women. They could be leaders.”

Meantime, Bay Area sports writers and reporters will determine balloting if Draves merits inclusion in the list of new hall of famers, which will be announced in January 2016.

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