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Tenley Albright

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Basic Facts:

Dates: June 18, 1935 -

Occupation: figure skater, athlete; surgeon

Known for: first American woman to win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating; U.S. figure skating championship and Olympic silver medal in 1952; first "triple crown" winner in 1953 (U.S., North American, and world titles); Olympic gold medal in 1956 despite a foot injury

Also known as: Tenley Emma Albright

Background, Family:

  • Father: Hollis Albright, surgeon
  • Mother: Elin M. Peterson Albright, homemaker
  • Brother: Niles Albright, skater and surgeon

Education:

  • Manter Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Radcliffe College, 1953-1957, bachelor's degree 1957; premed
  • Harvard Medical School, 1957-1961, M.D. 1961

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Tudor Gardiner (married 1962, divorced 1976; lawyer)
  • children: Lilla Rhys, Elin, Elee
  • husband: Gerald W. Blakeley, Jr. (married 1981, real estate developer)

About Tenley Albright:

Tenley Albright began skating at eight in Massachusetts, after seeing Gretchen Merrill perform at an ice show. Soon after she committed to rigorous training, encouraged by her coach Maribel Vinson Owen, Albright contracted polio (poliomyelitis) in September, 1946. She used her ice skating to regain strength after the attack, and in early 1947, she won her first major competition. By age 13, she had won her first national title, the U.S. Ladies Novice championship.

Albright was not expected to win a berth on the 1952 Olympic figure skating team, but she did -- and then won the silver medal at Oslo, the highest rank for an American woman skater since 1924. A month after the Olympics she won her first of five consecutive U.S. national championships.

In 1953, Tenley Albright not only won the "triple crown" (U.S., North American, and World titles), but also entered Radcliffe College as a premed student. In 1956, in the first Olympics televised around the world, she won the gold medal despite a serious injury to her ankle and competition from Carol Heiss. She was the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

Albright retired from competition in 1957. She graduated from Radcliffe that year, despite taking time off for her skating practice, and she entered Harvard Medical School, one of only 6 women out of 130 in her class. Albright became a surgeon, joining her father's practice in Boston. She retired from medicine in the 1990s.

Tenley Albright married and had three daughters. After divorcing her first husband, she remarried again in 1981.

In 1976, Albright was appointed to a seat on the U.S. Olympic Committee, the first woman to hold that position.

Places: Boston, Massachusetts

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