13 Olympians Featured in General Conference Talks

Shelly Mann

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In the 1956 Summer Olympics, Shelly Mann won a gold in the 100-meter butterfly and a silver in the women's 100-meter freestyle relay. In his April 1975 general conference talk "The Time Is Now," Elder Marvin J. Ashton told of the truly incredible hardships this athlete faced before obtaining victory. 

"There on the winner’s platform in the spotlight one day stood a beautiful, tall, blonde American girl. She was being presented a gold medal, symbolic of first place in worldwide competition. As she stood there, some boys whistled and others were heard to say, “There’s a gal who has everything.”
"Tears ran down her cheeks as she accepted the recognition. Many thought she was touched by the victory ceremony. The thing most of the audience did not know was the story of her determination, self-discipline, and daily action. At the age of five she had polo. When the disease left her body, she couldn’t use her arms or legs. Her parents took her daily to a swimming pool where they hoped the water would help hold her arms up as she tried to use them again. When she could lift her arm out of the water with her own power, she cried for joy. Then her goal was to swim the width of the pool, then the length, then several lengths. She kept on trying, swimming, enduring, day after day after day, until she won the gold medal for the butterfly stroke—one of the most difficult of all swimming strokes—in Melbourne, Australia.
"What if Shelly Mann had not been encouraged to achieve at age five and to continue and overcome? What a tremendous asset were parents who assisted her in the importance of now and today in preparation for tomorrow."
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