Gregory Efthimios "Greg" Louganis (/luːˈɡeɪnɪs/; born January 29, 1960) is an American Olympic diver 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 is of Samoan and Swedish descent. His teenage parents placed him for adoption when he was eight months old and he was raised in California by his adoptive parents, a Greek-American couple. 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, and 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.1 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.
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.1 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.1 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.1 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. 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. "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.2
He 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.6
In the October/November 2010 issue of ABILITY Magazine, Louganis stated that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is "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."7
Louganis announced his engagement to his partner, paralegal Johnny Chaillot, in People magazine in June 2013.8 The two married on October 12, 2013.9
Films and television
In the late 1980s and 1990s, he took on a number of roles 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.
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.
Louganis was Dive Master in the ABC Celebrity TV Diving show Splash and the Judge on Celebrity Splash! which aired on Channel 7 in Australia.
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,10 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."11
Louganis competed actively in dog agility competitions with his dogs Dr. Schivago, Captain Woof Blitzer, Nipper, Gryffindor (Gryff), Dobby and Hedwig (named for characters in the Harry Potter series).12 He published his book For the Life of Your Dog co-written with Betty Sicora Siino.
Since November 2010, Louganis has been coaching divers of a wide range of ages and abilities in the SoCal Divers Club in Fullerton, California.13 He was a mentor to the US diving team at the London 2012 Olympics.14
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