741. Enith Brigitha: First Black Olympic Champion Swimmer (1976)

“No doubt the best Black swimmer of the 70′s was Enith Brigitha of Curaçao. She was the first Black swimmer to win an Olympic medal.”

Christian Berger, A Short History of Black Swimming: The 70s Enith Brigitha (5/5/2011)

“Knowing everything we know now — and no disrespect intended — but Suriname’s Anthony Nesty is not the first-ever black swimmer to win Olympic gold [at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in 100m butterfly]… Twelve years earlier, at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, a female swimmer from the Netherlands named Enith Brigitha  (born April 15, 1955 in Curaçao) won bronze in the 100m freestyle. She finished behind two East German swimmers, Kornelia Ender and Petra Priemer. Later, in the 1990s, after the fall of communism in East Germany, it was discovered that East German officials widely and systematically drugged over 10,000 of their own athletes, many of whom were swimmers, most notably, female. Ender later admitted to doping, but athletes were given no choice.  The former president of the East German sports federation admitted: ‘Only performance counted, and for that all methods were employed.'”

Petra Priemer, Kornelia Ender (East Germany) and Enith Brigitha at the 1976 Olympics.

Petra Priemer, Kornelia Ender (from East Germany) and Enith Brigitha accepting their medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

To date, no East German medals have been stripped after the widespread doping surfaced and record books don’t list Enith Brigitha as the first-ever black Olympic gold medalist. “Like a tarnished record, her gold remains a darkened bronze.”

“Acknowledging Enith Brigitha” by Mike Gustafson / Correspondent for USA Swimming (2/15/2012)

Enith (Sportvrouw van het jaar in 1973 and 1974) was without a doubt the best Dutch swimmer of the 1970s. Between 1973 and 1979, she collected 21 Dutch titles, in freestyle, backstroke, medley and butterfly and many international medals as well, although never a golden one: Brigitha won 7 medals in European Championships, 4 in World Championships and 2 in the 1976 Olympics.

Enith moved back to Curaçao from 1990 to 2006 and ran a swim school for children: Zwemschool Enith Brigitha. She currently lives in Almere, Netherlands. She considers herself an Olympic Champion… and she most certainly is.

1976

About 1000awesomethingsaboutcuracao

I'm Carolina Gomes-Casseres, the creator of 1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao. I live in and love Manhattan, but sometimes miss my first Awesome island...

3 comments

  1. arthur nieuw

    Brandy, This lady thought you how to swim! Maybe you can talk to your mom about her. Cheers son, Dad
    Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 16:11:33 +0000
    To: arthurnieuw@hotmail.com

  2. Pingback: Refineria Isla helps hone Curaçao’s Awesome Athletic Ability | 1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao

  3. My daughter Dianthe got swimming lessons from this lady

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