|Full name||Gregory Efthimios Louganis|
January 29, 1960 |
El Cajon, California
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Spouse(s)||Johnny Chaillot (m. 2013)|
|Event(s)||Diving: 1m, 3m, 10m|
Gregory Efthimios "Greg" Louganis (//; born January 29, 1960) is an American Olympic diver, LGBT activist, and author who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games on both the springboard and platform. He is the only male and the second diver in Olympic history to sweep the diving events in consecutive Olympic Games. In 1984, he received the James E. Sullivan Award from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) as the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.
Louganis was born in El Cajon, California, and is of Samoan and Swedish descent. His teenage biological parents placed him for adoption when he was eight months old and he was raised in California by his adoptive parents, Frances and Peter Louganis. His adoptive father was of Greek descent. He started taking dance, acrobatics and gymnastics classes at 18 months, after witnessing his sister's classes and attempting to join in. By the age of three, he was practicing daily and was competing and giving public performances. For the next few years, he regularly competed, and performed at various places including nursing homes and the local naval base. As a child, he was diagnosed with asthma and allergies, so to help with the conditions, he was encouraged to continue the dance and gymnastics classes. He also took up trampolining, and at the age of nine began diving lessons after the family got a swimming pool. He attended Santa Ana High School in Santa Ana, California, Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California, as well as Mission Viejo High School, in Mission Viejo. In 1978, he joined the University of Miami where he studied theater. In 1981, he transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where in 1983 he graduated with a major in drama and a minor in dance.
As a Junior Olympic competitor, Louganis caught the eye of Sammy Lee, two-time Olympic champion, who began coaching him. At sixteen Louganis took part in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, where he placed second in the tower event, behind Italian sport legend Klaus Dibiasi. Two years later, with Dibiasi retired, Louganis won his first world title in the same event with the help of coach Ron O'Brien.
Louganis was a favorite for two golds in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, but an American boycott of the games prevented him from participating. Louganis won two titles at the world championships in 1982, where he became the first diver in a major international meeting to get a perfect score of 10 from all seven judges. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, with record scores and leads over his opponents, Louganis won gold medals in both the springboard and tower diving events.
After winning two more world championship titles in 1986, he repeated his 1984 feat in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, despite suffering a concussion after his head struck the springboard during the preliminary rounds. He completed the preliminaries despite his injury, earning the highest single score of the qualifying round for his next dive and repeated the dive during the finals, earning the gold medal by a margin of 25 points. In the 10m finals, he won the gold medal, performing a 3.4 difficulty dive in his last attempt, earning 86.70 points for a total of 638.61, surpassing silver medalist Xiong Ni by only 1.14 points. His comeback earned him the title of ABC's Wide World of Sports "Athlete of the Year" for 1988.
At the time of the 1988 accident, Louganis did not disclose to the public that he was HIV positive, a diagnosis he had received six months before the Olympics. His doctor placed him on the antiretroviral drug AZT, which he took every four hours round-the-clock. As expected of the culture at that time, most of his corporate sponsors dropped him as a client when his HIV status was announced in 1995. The exception was swimsuit manufacturer Speedo, which retained him as an endorser of its products until 2007. After his announcement, people in and out of the international diving community began to question Louganis's decision not to disclose his HIV status at the time of his head injury during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, even though blood in a pool posed no risk. The blood was diluted by thousands of gallons of water, and "chlorine kills HIV", said John Ward, chief of HIV-AIDS surveillance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, skin is a very effective barrier to HIV. Only a diver with an open wound would face any risk.[clarification needed] "If the virus just touches the skin, it is unheard of for it to cause infection: the skin has no receptors to bind HIV," explained Anthony Fauci.
In 2015, Louganis was presented the Bonham Centre Award from The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto, for his contributions to the advancement and education of issues around sexual identification.
In 2016, Louganis was pictured on the box of Wheaties cereal, where prominent American athletes are famously featured. Louganis said he was denied this honor in the 1980s[clarification needed] because of the stigma at the time of being gay; General Mills denied that the choice was influenced by a change.org petition requesting it.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, Louganis acted in several in movies, including Touch Me in 1997 and David Oliveras' debut movie Watercolors, in the role of Coach Brown, a swimming instructor in a high school.
A theatre major in college, in 1993, he played the role of "Darius" in the Off-Broadway production of the play, "Jeffrey."
In September 2000, he appeared on Hollywood Squares as a member of famous Olympic gold medalists "Dream Team," competing in a special week of the nationally syndicated game show series, broadcast as a tribute to the 2000 Summer Games. The episodes marked the first time that all these champions came together for this kind of television competition.
Also in 2012, he appeared in the penultimate episode of the second season of IFC's comedy Portlandia.
Among other influences, actor Michael Fassbender took Louganis's gait and mannerisms as inspiration for his portrayal of an advanced humanoid robot in the 2012 film Prometheus, stating that "Louganis was my first inspiration. I figured that I'd sort of base my physicality roughly around him, and then it kind of went from there."
Louganis was the subject of the documentary Back on Board which aired on HBO on Tuesday, August 4, 2015.
Testing positive for HIV in 1988, he recounted his story in 1996 in a best-selling autobiography, Breaking the Surface, co-written with Eric Marcus. In the book, Louganis detailed a relationship of domestic abuse and rape as well as teenage depression, and how he began smoking and drinking at a young age. The book spent five weeks at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. In a 1995 interview with Barbara Walters, Louganis spoke publicly for the first time about being gay and HIV-positive. His story was recounted in the 1997 USA Network TV movie Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story with Mario Lopez playing the lead and Louganis narrating.
Louganis also produced a video diary called Looking to the Light, which picked up where Breaking the Surface left off. In the years since his diagnosis was made public, Louganis has been an outspoken HIV awareness advocate. He has worked frequently with the Human Rights Campaign to defend the civil liberties of the LGBT community and people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
In the October/November 2010 issue of ABILITY Magazine, Louganis stated that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was "absurd," "unconstitutional," and a "witch-hunt." He added that "gay men and women have been serving this country for years … [it's] basically encouraging people who are serving our country to lie to each other."
Louganis competed actively in dog agility competitions with his dogs: Dr. Schivago; Captain Woof Blitzer; Nipper and son, Dobby, both champion Jack Russell terriers; Gryff (Gryffindor), a border collie; and Hedwig, a Hungarian Puli. Nipper was named for the RCA dog. While Gryff, Dobby and Hedwig were named for Harry Potter characters, as Louganis is a self-described "huge Harry Potter fan."
Since November 2010, Louganis has been coaching divers of a wide range of ages and abilities in the SoCal Divers Club in Fullerton, California. He was a mentor to the US diving team at the London 2012 Olympics and the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.
In June 2013, Louganis was inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame. He was a 2015 World Games Special Olympics torch bearer in Los Angeles (July 2015). In 2016, he was selected as a Grand Marshal of the 2017 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
• "Back on Board: Greg Louganis" (2014)
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