Greg Louganis (USA)
Honor Diver (1993)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1976 silver (platform), 1980 (boycott), 1984 gold (springboard & platform), 1988 gold (springboard & platform); WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1978 gold (platform), 1982 gold (springboard & platform), 1986 gold (springboard & platform); PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 1979 gold (springboard & platform), 1983 gold (springboard & platform), 1987 gold (springboard & platform); FINA CUP: 1979 gold (platform), 1981 silver (springboard), 1983 gold (springboard & platform), 1987 gold (springboard); U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 47.
Known as the king of diving, Louganis reigned over his sport for more than a decade with grace, power, and unequaled precision.
Winner of the coveted James E. Sullivan award for outstanding achievements in athletics in 1984, Greg established himself as the USA’s best athlete. Not only is Louganis the only male diver in history to win both springboard and platform gold medals for diving in consecutive Olympic Games, 1984 and 1988, a third set of double wins would have probably been his, too, if it were not for the USA’s boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games.
One man who came close to matching Louganis’ Olympic record was his first coach, Dr. Sammy Lee, who won consecutive platform titles at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and the 1952 Games in Helsinki. It was Sammy Lee who spotted the talents of Louganis in 1971 when Louganis scored a perfect ten at the age of eleven at the AAU Junior Olympics. Louganis was soon training with Sammy Lee and went on to win a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. It was evident that Greg was on his way to becoming one of the best divers the world has ever seen.
In 1978 Ron O’Brien, also a world-class diver like Lee, joined the staff at Mission Viejo. That year Greg won both World championships titles and defeated the long-time platform champion Klaus Dibiasi of Italy. For the next decade, Greg Louganis was the man to beat on the boards, dominating every national and international competition he entered.
Like many athletes, Greg anticipated the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. Unfortunately, the United States government boycotted the Games in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Disappointed, but not discouraged, Louganis decided to continue to pursue his dream.
In 1984 Louganis became the first man in 56 years to win two Olympic gold medals in diving. Hall of Famer Pete Desjardins of Miami had done it at the 1928 Games in Paris. In 1988, competing against divers half his age, Louganis became the first man to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympic Games, a feat duplicated only once in Olympic history by women’s champion Pat McCormick in 1952-1956.