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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:23 p.m., Friday, October 18, 2002

Olympic medalist Soule dies

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Aileen Riggin Soule, America's oldest living Olympic gold medalist, died last night. She was 96.

Soule had lived in Hawai'i since 1957.

Soule won her medal for springboard diving in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium when she was 14. Before that, no American woman had won an Olympic gold.

"It was very, very primitive it was a new sport," Soule said in a 1999 interview. "Nobody knew anything about diving except you shouldn't do a bellywhopper."

In 1924, at the Paris Olympics, she won a silver in diving and a bronze in swimming. After, she was hailed as "America's best all-around woman athlete."

Soule was born in May 1906 in Newport, R.I. She was a longtime resident of Waikiki.

Soule turned professional after the 1924 Games. She played the Hippodrome and dove into 6-foot portable tanks.

Soule appeared in several Hollywood films, including "Roman Scandals" (1933) and "One in a Million" (1936).

Soule was an avid athlete late in her life, winning gold medals in U.S. Masters Swimming Championships when she was in her 90s.