Aloha Authentic: A legendary surfer from Waikiki turned Olympic champion

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the pae aina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered. It is time to highlight a short roadway that is named after an Olympic champion who became known as “Godfather of Modern-Day surfing.”

In the ahupuaa of Manoa, which lies in the moku of Kona on Oahu, there is a street named after a legendary surfer and an Olympic champion.

That street is talking about Kahanamoku Street.

Born on Aug. 24, 1890, Duke Kahanamoku was a full-blooded Native Hawaiian who grew up on the shores of Waikiki.

He entered a swimming competition at the age of 21 in Honolulu Harbor.  

He won that competition and also broke the world record by 4.6 seconds.

Duke made his first Olympic appearance a year later in 1912 during the Stockholm games.  

He made it to the finals for the 100-meter freestyle race, but was found sleeping behind the stands as the heat was about to start.  

He was woken up just to make it to the start in the nick of time.  

He ended up coming in first with a lead distance of two meters, claiming the gold.

He also won a silver medal in a freestyle relay that year.  

Duke won the gold medal yet again in the 1920 Antwerp games for the 100m freestyle, becoming the first person ever to win this race consecutively.

He also won a silver medal for a relay race that year.  

Duke would go on to claim one more silver medal during the 1924 Paris games, totaling five Olympic medals throughout his career.  

Three gold, two silver and many world records broken.

Did you know? Now you do!

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