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Tokyo 1964


Frank Gorman

Frank Gorman



The Olympic Games is not just about triumphs, but also about those who have met with disappointment – and come out the other side. One such person is the American diver Frank Gorman.

Few Olympians have suffered the disappointment that he faced, having spent years training in hope of victory, and then finding himself in a position where a gold medal seemed almost certain – only for his chances to be dashed. The challenge facing such people is to compose yourself and continue fighting – and that’s just what Gorman did.

He was a Navy Lieutenant who had dominated the men’s springboard competition for almost all of its length. It was apparent from the early stages that this would be a contest in which two athletes would be out in front – Gorman and his American teammate Kenneth Sitzberger. In fact, as it proved, Gorman was to outscore Sitzberger in all but one of the rounds.

The other one, though, was to prove decisive. It came in the ninth round, at a point when Gorman was well ahead on points. He had only two dives remaining when, after a long wait on the diving board he launched his back, two-and-a-half somersault tuck.

As he entered the water, Gorman knew, as divers always know, that it had not gone to plan. The dive lacked the precision of his other efforts and the entry had been messy. As he pulled himself from the pool, Gorman’s eyes looked up to the heavens, and then he put his hands to his head. His score was just over 10 – Sitzberger was to score more than 21 points that round. The advantage that he had built up, painstakingly, over the preceding eight dives was wiped out in one moment.

Gorman composed himself for his final dive, though – and this time hit it perfectly. He had outscored Sitzberger for the ninth time in ten dives – but it was good enough only for silver.

Discover the best photos of Tokyo 1964

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    1964 Tokyo - Vyacheslav Ivanov (URS) 1st, on the top, and HILL Achim (EUA) 2nd. © 1964 / IOC

  • Opening Ceremony Tokyo 1964

    Yoshinori Sakai has lit the Olympic cauldron


  • Opening Ceremony Tokyo 1964

    Yoshinori Sakai, the last torchbearer, stands next to Greek actress Aleka Katseli at a rehearsal prior to the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games


  • Larisa Latynina (USSR)

    Larisa Latynina, with a bronze medal around her neck, on the third step of the podium after the beam competition of the Tokyo 1964 OG. On the top step is Czechoslovakia’s Vera Caslavska, while Tamara Manina (USSR) stands on the second step


  • Yoyogi National Gymnasium

    An aerial view of the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, circa 1965. Designed by Kenzo Tange to house the swimming and diving events in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, it is now a major venue for basketball and ice hockey. (Photo by Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • Anton Geesink

    Dutch judo champion Anton Geesink arrives back in his home town of Utrecht after winning the gold medal in the open event at the Tokyo Olympics, 6th November 1964. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)