Google celebrates Tamio “Tommy” Kono’s 91st birthday with a doodle illustrated by Los Angeles-based artist Shanti Rittgers.
- Rittgers told Google she felt an “instant wave of awe and personal connection” while researching Kono’s journey and finding out that he started lifting weights as an asthmatic child at an internment camp.
- “The more I learned about him, saw his photos, and listened to second-hand interviews, the more he grew in my mind as someone who always pushed himself to be his best, and wanted to be a positive light to others,” Rittgers shared. “He was like a shining star.”
Happy 91st birthday to Japanese-American weightlifting coach & athlete Tommy Kono 🇯🇵🇺🇸
Even to this day, Kono is the only weightlifter in history to hold worlds records in 4 different weight divisions 🏋️♀️#GoogleDoodle🎨 by guest artist Shanti Rittgers → https://t.co/60ftKH2eU9 pic.twitter.com/aSnAyMxZJ6
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) June 27, 2021
Who is Tommy Kono: Kono was born in Sacramento, Calif., on June 27, 1930. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans, including Kono and his family, were forced into internment camps during World War II.
- Kono was eventually drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950. Two years later, he became a member of the U.S. national weightlifting team and won his first Olympic gold medal at the Helsinki Summer Games.
- Kono continued his winning streak until the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, where he won his final Olympic gold medal.
- He became an Olympic coach after retiring in 1964 with countless achievements, including 26 world records and several championship titles in bodybuilding and weightlifting.
- Kono is considered one of the greatest weightlifters of all time, having been inducted into the Weightlifting Hall of Fame in 1993. He died in 2016 at the age of 85.
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