Olga Fikotova Connolly – Five Time Olympian and CCUSD School Board Member

April 12, 2024, marked the passing of the last living Olympic Champion from the Melbourne 1956 Olympics. Olga Fikotova Connolly passed away at 91 years old.

Most known for her athletic accomplishments as a five-time Olympian and Gold Medalist in the Women’s discus throw, Connolly was elected to the CCUSD Board of Education in 1972. She was a big supporter of Culver City Parks and Recreation programs and worked hard to improve physical education in Culver City schools.

Connolly competed in Melbourne in 1956 winning the discus competition for her homeland Czechoslovakia and then competed in four more Olympic Games for the United States as an American citizen. In the 1972 Munich Olympics, her USA teammates honored her with the nomination to carry the delegation flag, which she stated was one of her proudest moments. She is likely the only Olympian ever to win a Gold Medal for one country and subsequently carry the flag in an Olympic opening ceremony for another.

Connolly grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia through a very difficult part of history. Her father, Franticek Fikota, worked as the personal guard to President Tomas Masaryk, the first Czech president elected by the people, known as “The People’s President.” Her childhood was tough, as her father was eventually arrested as a political prisoner and her family was kicked out of the city.

The Cold War years and all its cruelty and injustice only made Connolly tougher, and she became a lifelong advocate for peace from a young age. She developed a courageous voice for social justice and a strong anti-war stance as a public speaker and author.

At the age of 24, in 1957 Olga married Harold Connolly, and the couple eventually settled in Culver City, raising four children: Mark, Jim, Merja and Nina. She was never granted permission to return or compete again for her beloved Czechoslovakia and therefore trained and competed for the United States in her next four Olympics, while raising her children. Upon her arrival, she wasn’t well received by many in the United States due to the politics of communism, but she rose above the prejudice for the love of the country and worked hard on her English speaking and writing.

Connolly eventually became the Director of Intramural Sports and the Director of the Study Skills Center at Loyola Marymount University from 1971 to 1980. She is the author of three published books, including her early autobiography, “The Rings of Destiny” and many articles for the LA Times, Sports Illustrated, Evening Outlook, Daily Breeze, Life, and Lower Extremities Magazine (LER).

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