Gregory Efthimios Louganis (//; born January 29, 1960) is an American Olympic diver, LGBT activist, and author who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, on both the springboard and platform. He is the only man and the second diver in Olympic history to sweep the diving events in consecutive Olympic Games. He has been called both "the greatest American diver" and "probably the greatest diver in history".
|Full name||Gregory Efthimios Louganis|
|Born||January 29, 1960|
El Cajon, California, U.S.
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Event(s)||Diving: 1m, 3m, 10m|
Early life and educationEdit
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. Louganis reconnected with his biological father, Fouvale Lutu, in 1984. Through the help of DNA tests and his half-siblings, he found his biological mother in 2017.
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, California.
In 1978, he subsequently attended the University of Miami, where he majored in drama and continued diving. In 1981, he transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where in 1983, he graduated with a major in theatre and a minor in dance.
As a Junior Olympic competitor, Louganis caught the eye of Dr. 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. He was one of 461 athletes to receive a Congressional Gold Medal years later. 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.
He won two more world championship titles in 1986.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, his head struck the springboard during the preliminary rounds, leading to a concussion. He completed the preliminaries despite his injury. He then earned 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 10 m 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.
HIV status and head injuryEdit
Six months before the 1988 Olympics, Louganis was diagnosed with HIV, and started antiretrovirals. At the time, people with HIV/AIDS faced great stigma losing their jobs, being denied housing, and being ostracized. Years later Louganis came out as HIV+. When he injured his head at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and some blood got in the pool, Louganis said he was "paralyzed with fear" that someone might catch the virus, but no-one did. The incident posed no risk to others as any blood was fully diluted by the pool water, and according to John Ward, chief of HIV-AIDS surveillance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "chlorine kills HIV". Also, since skin is a very effective barrier to HIV, the only way the virus could enter would be through an open wound. "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.
Louganis got few endorsement deals after his 1984 and 1988 Olympic victories, his one major deal being Speedo, a partnership which lasted until 2007. Some of his fellow athletes blamed homophobia for his lack of deals, since he had been rumored to be gay even before he came out. Louganis has stated that he suspects that his sexuality played a part, although he feels that in part he was simply overshadowed in the public imagination by other American Olympians, most notably Mary Lou Retton.
In 2016, Louganis was pictured on boxes of Wheaties cereal, where prominent American athletes are famously featured, as part of a special "Legends" series that also included 1980s Olympians Janet Evans and Edwin Moses. This occurred approximately a year after a change.org petition was launched that requested that he be featured, although General Mills denied any influence from the petition.
Louganis had been a theatre major in college, and in the late 1980s and 1990s, Louganis acted in several movies, including Touch Me in 1997.
In 1993, he played the role of Darius in an Off-Broadway production of the play Jeffrey. In 1995, he starred for six weeks in the Off-Broadway production of Dan Butler's one man-show about gay life, The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me, taking over from Butler himself. In the play he portrayed 14 different characters.
In 2008 he appeared in the film Watercolors, in the role of Coach Brown, a swimming instructor in a high school.
In 2012, he appeared in the penultimate episode of the second season of IFC's comedy Portlandia, playing himself.
Dog agility competitionsEdit
After retiring from diving, Louganis began to compete in dog agility competitions; he has said that being around the dogs gave him "a sense of security, company and unconditional love". His dogs have included 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.
Louganis is a gay rights activist, as well as an 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."
Books and video diaryEdit
Louganis 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.
Louganis also produced a video diary called Looking to the Light, which picked up where Breaking the Surface left off.
Other media appearancesEdit
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. 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.
From 1983 to 1989, Louganis was in a romantic relationship with his manager, R. James "Jim" Babbitt. Louganis has described the relationship as abusive, saying that at one point in 1983, Babbitt raped him at knifepoint. Louganis also accused Babbitt of taking 80% of Louganis's earnings.
Six months before the 1988 Olympics, Louganis was diagnosed with HIV; he had contracted the disease from Babbitt. His doctor placed him on the antiretroviral drug AZT, which he took every four hours round-the-clock.
For his 33rd birthday in 1993, Louganis held a "final birthday party" for family and friends, as a way to say goodbye; he was in failing health and thought he would die of AIDS soon.
Louganis publicly came out as gay in a pre-taped announcement shown at the opening ceremony of the 1994 Gay Games, having been persuaded to do so by Gay Games organizers. Even before then, he led what has been described as "an openly gay life".
In 1995 he announced that he was HIV-positive, around the time of the release of his memoir, Breaking the Surface. In a 1995 interview with Barbara Walters, Louganis spoke publicly for the first time about being gay and HIV-positive.
In popular cultureEdit
In the 2005 film The Longest Yard, the character Caretaker responds to the argument that Crewe is a "natural athlete", saying, "So is Greg Louganis, but I bet you he'd get his ass whupped out here."
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."
In the first episode of season 3 of the TV series Castle, the medical examiner describes a victim who had fallen from a window as having done "a Greg Louganis out that window up there".
Louganis was the subject of the documentary Back on Board which aired on HBO on August 4, 2015.
He was the subject of a short documentary, Thicker than Water, which appeared on the ESPN.com website as part of their 30 for 30 Shorts series on December 1, 2015. The documentary covered Louganis's ordeal, and ultimate triumph, at the 1988 Olympics.
Awards and honorsEdit
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.
- Dirty Laundry (1987) as Larry
- Inside Out III (1992) as Max in the segment "The Wet Dream"
- Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story (narrator)
- D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994) as himself
- It's My Party (1996) as Dan Zuma
- Sports Theater with Shaquille O'Neal (episode: "Broken Record") (1997 TV movie) as Coach Hill
- Touch Me (1997) as David
- Watercolors (2008) as Coach Brown
- 30 for 30: "Tim Richmond: To the Limit" (2010)
- Portlandia, season 2, episode 9 (2012) as himself
- Splash (2013) as himself
- Celebrity Splash! (2013) as himself
- Back on Board: Greg Louganis (2014)
- Sabre Dance (2015) as Salvador Dalí
- Entourage (2015) as a fictional version of himself
- "HIV". Second Opinion. Season 15. Episode 7. 1 minutes in. WXXI Public Broadcasting Council. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
- Daniel, Heath (July 14, 2014). "Greg Louganis Tells How He Went From Heartthrob To Activist With Candid New Film". Queerty.
- O'Neill, Tracy (August 4, 2015). "Greg Louganis: Far From Falling". Rolling Stone.
- JORDAN, PAT. "GREG LOUGANIS AFTER THE GOLD". Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Ain, Morty (June 23, 2016). "'I didn't think I'd see 30,' says Greg Louganis". ESPN The Magazine (Body Issue 2016). ESPN. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
- Simon Burnton (March 28, 2012). "50 stunning Olympic moments No20: Greg Louganis's perfect dive 1988". The Guardian.
- SLATE, LIBBY (2 August 1989). "Greg Louganis Plunges Into Light Opera : Olympic Diver Plays Prince in 'Cinderella'". Retrieved 18 November 2018 – via LA Times.
- Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry (2008). Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403.
- "Public Glory, Secret Agony". Newsweek. March 5, 1995.
- "The Risk Pool: The Dangers Are Off The Field", authored by Sharon Begley, Newsweek, 5 March 1995
- Crouse, Karen (August 14, 1994). "Many Endorsement Deals Aren't Coming Out -- Many Gay Athletes Have Learned They Must Stay In The Closet In Order To Land Lucrative Contracts". The Seattle Times.
- Beard, Alison (April 5, 2016). "The Wheaties Box and the Why of Celebrity Endorsements". Harvard Business Review.
- Better Late Than Never: Olympic Champion Greg Louganis Gets His Wheaties Box (NPR)
- Greg Louganis. Steve Wulf. Sports Illustrated. September 27, 1993. Retrieved February 10, 2017
- Winship, Frederick M. (August 22, 1995). "Greg Louganis, from platform to boards". UPI.
- Greg Louganis back in the pool to help others Sandra Hewitt. ESPN. May 26, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2017
- Greg Louganis Loves Dogs and Harry Potter: In the LINK of an Eye People Pets. Popsugar. February 2, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2017
- London 2012 Olympics: diving champion Greg Louganis on the Games, Harry Potter and meeting Michelle Obama Greg Louganis. The Telegraph. August 7, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
- Zeigler, Mark (June 13, 2009), "Life for Louganis more about dogs than diving", The San Diego Union Tribune
- "Olympic Superstars: Where Are they Now? | Maxim". www.maxim.com. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
- Crouse, Karen (Feb 20, 2011), "Louganis is Back on Board", The New York Times
- Attitude (magazine) interview, August 2012
- Greg Louganis Tells How He Went From Heartthrob To Activist With Candid New Film Heath Daniels. Queerty. July 14, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2016
- Greg Louganis: Champion, Survivor, Activist, Mentor Archived 2016-11-23 at the Wayback Machine GregLouganis.com. August 23, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- Greg Louganis: Champion, survivor, activist, mentor Jackie Bamberger. Yahoo Sports. Aug 5, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016
- "Ability Magazine: Greg Louganis Interview" (2010)". Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- Cooper, Chet (October–November 2010), "Don't Ask(We Asked), Don't Tell(We Told)", ABILITY Magazine
- "The Foundation - Princess Charlene of Monaco foundation". 2018-12-26. Archived from the original on 2018-12-26.
- For the Life of Your Dog. A Complete Guide to Having a Dog From Adoption and Birth Through Sickness and Health Simon & Schuster, Inc. Retrieved February 11, 2017
- Greg Louganis. A chat with the author of 'For the Life of Your Dog'. A Complete Guide to Having a Dog in Your Life, From Adoption and Birth Through Sickness and Health CNN. 2001. Retrieved February 11, 2017
- For the Life of Your Dog: A Complete Guide to Having a Dog From Adoption and Birth Through Sickness and Health Google Books. Retrieved February 11, 2017
- "Greg Louganis, Joey Cifelli Guest Star on ABC Game Show". Swimming World News. 2020-05-29. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
- Jones, Grahame L. (March 29, 1989). "Louganis, Ex-Agent in Dispute : Olympic Diver Says in Court Papers He Feared for His Life". Los Angeles Times.
- Symons, Caroline (2010). The Gay Games: A History. Routledge. ISBN 9781134027897.
- "Greg Louganis Engaged to Johnny Chaillot". Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "Greg Louganis Marries Johnny Chaillot". Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Trumbore, Dave (March 17, 2012). "WonderCon 2012: Prometheus Panel Recap Featuring Sir Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof". Collider.com. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Sullivan, Kevin (November 17, 2011). "Michael Fassbender's 'Prometheus' Character Inspired By... Greg Louganis?". MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
- "Back on Board: Greg Louganis". HBO.
- "CALIFORNIA SPORTS HALL OF FAME CELEBRATES. CLASS OF 2013. INDUCTION CEREMONY. SUNDAY, JUNE 9/ Press release. California Sports Hall of Fame. June 9, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame's Inaugural Class Announced". 18 June 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3e2108983ef299ccbbc3502ca&id=c4f7a83950, 2015-04-13
- "Max & Marcellus: [hr1]". ESPN.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Janet Evans, Allyson Felix and Greg Louganis Selected as 2017 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshals, Tournament of Roses Association, November 3, 2016
- Official website
- Greg Louganis at the International Olympic Committee
- Greg Louganis at Olympics at Sports-Reference.com (archived)
- Greg Louganis to keynote DBSA 2007 National Conference at the Wayback Machine (archived May 28, 2007)