A glimpse into our Olympic Past: Thelma Kalama - An Olympic Gold Medalist, A member of the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame, and Local Hero.
Olympic Medalist and Hall of Fame Swimmer Thelma Kalama (1931-1999)
Thelma Kalama-Aiu's Olympic Gold Medal available for viewing in Kama'aina Metals & Jewelry's Museum!
When the Medal came into the store we were lead to believe it was a participation medal, not an Olympic Gold Medal which we have now discovered. But after a lot of research it was discovered that this medal looked nothing like the one given to the participants, and in fact because of the low budget for the 1948 Olympics, the Gold Medals were made out of Silver!
The photo above shows Gold Medalist David Bond from the 1948 Olympics in a photo with his Gold Medal made out of silver. It is identical to the one we currently have in our museum.
People in the stands of the 1948 London Summer Olympics.
Sixty-four years ago and against all odds The International Olympic community bonded together to make the 1948 London Olympics a reality. The Summer Olympics were originally to take place in 1940 in London, England, but were cancelled due to World War II. In 1948 London, England was in shambles, having endured bombings, invasions, and having lost the lives of many soldiers. Once WWII ended, it was only fitting that the Summer Olympics return there. England put the 1948 London Olympics together as an International sign of perseverance and endurance, on a shoestring budget, while housing most of the visiting Olympians in their military barracks.
Thelma Kalama at The A.A.U National Swimming Championship
Thelma Kalama swam for Coach Soichi Sakamoto as a part of the Hawaii Swim Club. She was seventeen at the time, and thoroughly enjoyed surfing as well. Thelma even taught fellow Olympic Medalist Bill Woolsey (1952 Gold & 1956 Silver) how to board surf! Thelma graduated from Kaimuki High School on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was so important to the local people that Hawaii was represented in the 1948 Olympics that Duke Kahanamoku, along with the Waikiki Beach Boys, took up a collection to send her to London to compete. She qualified and won the 4×100 m freestyle relay, together with Marie Corridon, Brenda Helser and Ann Curtis. Thelma Kalama-Aiu was the second female swimmer from Hawaii to bring home an Olympic Gold. The first was Mariechen Wehselau in 1924.
The year after winning an Olympic Gold Medal, Thelma Kalama-Aiu continued competing. Along with her 1948 Olympic gold medal, Kama'aina Metals & Jewelry has her A.A.U National Swimming Championship medal for taking 1st place in the 800 m. women's relay. Check out this from the International Swimming Hall of Fame showing the 1951 A.A.U. National Swimming Championship.
Here are some of the other Hawaiian A.A.U. Medals in the Thelma Kalama-Aiu collection:
1948 200 Meter Freestyle (1st)
1949 300 Meter Med. Relay (1st)
1950 1500 Meter Freestyle (1st)
1950 100 yd. Freestyle (2nd)
1951 100 yd. Freestyle (1st)
1951 300 Yd. Freestyle Med. Relay (1st)
1951 1500 M. Freestyle (1st)
1951 100 yd. Backstroke (3rd)
1951 400 yd. Freestyle (3rd)
In short, she was an amazing athlete and an inspiration to all of the future athletes of Hawaii. In the future months Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry will be putting together a more comprehensive booklet of information about this young Hawaiian Olympian to view along-side her medals in our museum. We are proud to be housing a piece of her athletic history, as well as other amazing pieces of local history, available for everyone to view in our in-store museum! So, if you have some free time, and feel like being wow-ed, please stop by! We would love the chance to show you all of the amazing things that Kama'aina Metals & Jewelry's Museum has to offer.