American diving champion Greg Louganis won 13 world championships and made history at the 1982 Olympics as the first diver ever awarded a perfect score.
Born in San Diego, California in 1960, Greg Louganis began a remarkable diving career while in college and went on to win a record 47 national and 13 world championships. Over the course of his career, his awards also include five Olympic medals (four gold and one silver), and he was the first diver to ever earn a perfect score of 10.
One of the all-time greatest athletes in his sport, diver Greg Louganis faced many personal obstacles before winning Olympic gold. He was adopted by Peter and Frances Louganis, joining an older adopted sister in the family. Louganis had a difficult relationship with his father who could be physically abusive. He also suffered at the hands of his peers who picked on him for his dyslexia and for his skin color. (One of his birth parents is of Samoan ancestry.)
Fortunately, the young Louganis soon discovered something that he excelled at. He had already taken dance and gymnastics classes and then started to take his acrobatic moves in a new direction in his family's pool. After taking diving lessons, Louganis began to compete in the sport around age of 9. He wowed the judges at the 1971 Junior Olympics two years later, earning a perfect score of 10 during this national competition.
At the age of 16, Louganis competed his first Olympics in Montreal, Canada. He took home the silver medal in the men's 10-meter platform event, losing the top honor to famous Italian diver Klaus Dibiasi. Louganis had to wait six years for his next shot at the Olympics' ultimate prize because of the U.S. boycott of the 1980 summer games in Moscow.
In Los Angeles at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Louganis achieved gold medals in both the men's 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform events. He became the first diver to break 700-point mark in scoring of the men's platform in Olympic history. While he made his Olympic wins seem so easily, he faced a new set of challenges at his next Olympics. Louganis had discovered before the games that he was HIV-positive, but he decided to continue his quest for gold.
At the 1988 Olympic Summer Games held in Seoul, South Korea, Louganis injured himself during the preliminaries for the men's 3-meter springboard competition. He struck his head on the board during his dive, dropping awkwardly into the water. About a half an hour later, Louganis returned to competition after receiving some sutures. He later wrote for The Huffington Post that he told his coach that "We worked too long and hard to get there, and I don't want to give up without a fight." Louganis made a remarkable comeback, winning the gold for this event as well as the gold for the men's 10-meter platform.
Life After Diving
In 1989, Louganis officially retired from diving. He worked a bit as an actor, appearing off-Broadway production of Jeffrey in 1993. In the play, Louganis appeared as a performer dying of AIDS. He wrote about his life experiences in his best-selling autobiography Breaking the Surface, in which he came out as a gay man and publicly revealed his HIV-positive status. He shared his news in interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters. The information about his condition caused some controversy in the sports world. Also in his book, he discussed his substance abuse problems, depression and his abusive relationship with his business manager.
Louganis has become a national speaker on such issues as dyslexia, domestic violence and overcoming adversity. He has also worked as a commentator for 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. In 2011, he returned to diving to serve an athlete mentor to the latest generation of competitors in USA Diving organization. "I'm not coaching dives, I'm observing and making recommendations of what I see, of what they may be able to add to enhance their training programs," he told the Associated Press.
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