Olympic Records: A weekly series featuring materials from our collections related to past Olympians and Olympic Games.
Gymnast Cathy Rigby visited with President Ford in the Oval Office on June 16, 1975. The former Olympian and her husband Tommy Mason attended a state dinner at the White House later that day.
Rigby started training in gymnastics as a young girl. At age 15 she competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The U.S. women’s gymnastic team finished sixth. Rigby, the team’s highest scorer, came in 16th in the individual standings. Two years later in 1970 she became the nation’s first female gymnast to earn a medal at the World Gymnastics Championships, taking the silver on the balance beam.
After winning the U.S. National Gymnastic Championships in both 1970 and 1972 Rigby headed to Munich, Germany, for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The American gymnasts improved on their results from the previous games. The team came in fourth and Rigby again had the best individual performance, taking tenth place in the all-around.
Cathy Rigby retired from competition following the 1972 Games and embarked on a successful acting career. Although she never won an Olympic medal Rigby’s success in international competitions helped popularize gymnastics in America. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.
Image: Tommy Mason, Cathy Rigby, and President Ford talking in the Oval Office, 6/16/1975 (White House photograph A5088-28)