Her eyes twinkle in the morning sun, and her smile beams. Looking out across the water while standing on the boardwalk at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, she glances up as a large pelican swoops by, just several feet over our heads. She laughs like a girl decades younger than 78, but then age doesn't really mean too much to Olga Connolly.
Born Olga Fikotová, in 1956 she won a gold medal in the discus competition at the 1956 Olympic games held in Melbourne, Australia. Also at these games, Olga met and fell in love with well-known American athlete Harold Connolly.
The New York Times editorialized: "The H-bomb overhangs us like a cloud of doom. The subway during rush hours is almost impossible to endure. But Olga and Harold are in love, and the world does not say no to them."
Back home in her native Czechoslovakia, the couple's romance got the headlines — not the gold medal. Olga was accused of being a traitor by the Communist authorities, and her marriage to Harold represented the end of her career as a Czechoslovak athlete. But that didn't stop her. Olga became a U.S. citizen and went on to represent her new country at four Olympic games.