Blast from the past: Louganis hit the board and the gold

The Olympic Games are full of champions, records, and stories, but they’re also an incredible encyclopedia of strange, funny, emotional, and sad moments. The Tokyo 2020 website is digging some out every week to put a smile on your face or a tear in your eye. This week: Greg Louganis hit the board.

First Olympics at 16

The story of Greg Louganis is extraordinary.

Born in California to a Samoan father and a Swedish mother, he was adopted at just eight months old. Following his sister's steps, he started gymnastics very early on, before discovering diving at the age of nine.

Quickly regarded as a future champion, he was selected to participate at the Olympic Games Montreal 1976, where at 16 years old, he won a silver medal in the 10m platform, finishing behind diving legend Klaus Dibiasi of Italy.

Perfect score

He dominated the sport in both platform and springboard, but as the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow approached, he would be unable to participate since the USA had boycotted the Games. However, just two years later, he won his second world champion title when he became first ever diver to receive a perfect score from all seven judges in such competition.

At Los Angeles 1984, Louganis won two gold medals in the springboard and platform events with impressive scores which were way above all his opponents.

112 km/hour

Four years later at Seoul 1988, Louganis was still the favourite for gold in both springboard and 10m disciplines despite having learnt he was HIV positive a few months prior. However, during the springboard qualifying round he hit his head on the springboard at almost 112 km/h, in what has become one of the most iconic pictures in the history of the Games.

It didn't stop Louganis though, and just 30 minutes later he performed a perfect dive to secure his spot in the final. Then, a few days later he won gold in both the 10m and springboard.

Louganis finished his career with four Olympic gold medals and one silver, and five world championship titles.

He went on to became an actor for some years and wrote several books.

Since 2010 though, he has been a diving coach, having helped the US Team at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

A version of this article was first published on Tokyo2020.org

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