Hall of Fame: Rachel Kealaonapua (Keala) O’Sullivan (1969)

“Internationally, one of Hawaii’s proudest moments came in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico city when brunette beauty Keala O’Sullivan won a bronze medal in the springboard diving competition.’ – HONOLULU STAR BULLETIN.This article appears as originally published in the Fall 1988 issue of the Punahou Bulletin.

“The outstanding diver of the decade.” – HONOLULU ADVERTISER.

“1969 – Woman Athlete of the Year – HONOLULU QUARTERBACK CLUB.

Keala was the first isle Olympic Medalist since 1960. She missed winning the silver medal by a mere 35/100ths of a point! In 1968, on her way to Mexico City she was:

National AAU Indoor 1-meter Diving Champion; National Outdoor 3-meter Diving Champion; U.S. Olympic Trials Diving Champion.

Behind those headlines were years of hard work. Daughter of well known athlete, the late “Pat” O’Sullivan, Punahou ’37; football end; track miler and sprint swimmer – Keala entered Punahou in the sixth grade. It wasn’t long before her athletic abilities manifested themselves. Entering senior academy she was already participating in volleyball, track, gymnastics and swimming – ultimately winning letters in all these sports. Her gymnastic and swimming ability lead to an early interest in diving and by the time she was a senior, it was a year-round activity. During the day she competed in her seasonal school sports and at night it was diving-diving-diving. The results were worth the effort.

Following the Olympics and graduation, Keala took a brief ‘time out’ from swimming to concentrate on obtaining a MS degree from the University of Hawaii-West Oahu. She returned to swimming in 1972 and barely missed making the cut-off for that year’s Olympic trials. Her ability as a coach then led to a heavy demand from ILH schools for her services and for years she instructed divers at PAC-5, Kamehameha and Punahou – often all together. In the 1982 Keala took another breather for further work studies and to concentrate on raising her family (a boy, now a Punahou 10th grader, and two younger girls). In 1986 she returned to coaching and is now enjoying her second year as a member of Punahou’s athletic staff.

For her outstanding sports achievements and her contributions to Punahou’s athletic program the O Men are proud to welcome Keala O’Sullivan Watson into the Punahou Athletic Hall of Fame.

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