Little Bits of History

Sportsman of the Year

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 19, 2011

Greg Louganis (photo by Alan Light)

September 19, 1988: While qualifying for the Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Greg Louganis strikes his head on the edge of the diving board. This was during the ninth of the eleven preliminary dives from the three-meter (9.8 feet) springboard. He was attempting a reverse 2.5 pike when he cracked his head on the board. He needed stitches in the wound but returned 35 minutes later to dive. After the preliminary round was completed, Louganis went to the hospital to receive further treatment.

Louganis began diving at 10 years of age. By the age of 16, he had won his first Olympic medal, a silver for the 10 meter (33 feet) platform dive. In 1984, at the Los Angeles games, he became the first man in 54 years to win both the platform and springboard gold medals. Even with his injury, he again won two gold medals, the first to win back-to-back double gold medals for these events.

He has 6 World Championships and 47 National Championship titles. He holds 6 gold medals from the Pan Am Games. He was voted the most outstanding amateur athlete in 1988 and received the Sullivan Award. His own website states that he is clearly the “world’s greatest diver and a fine athlete.”

In 1995, Louganis published his autobiography – Breaking the Surface. In that book he admitted that he was HIV positive at the time of his injury in Seoul. Dr. Puffer, who treated his head wound, did not wear gloves while placing sutures. Greg did not tell the doctor of his disease due to “confusion, shock, and panic.” Dr. Puffer has been tested and remains HIV negative. Louganis’s book was turned into a TV film. He continues to write, act, and has a list of speaking engagements. His latest book is about his other love – dogs. His newest book is For the Life of Your Dog co-authored with Betty Sicora Siino. He has been coaching divers for SoCal Divers Club since November 2010.

“I didn’t realize I was that close to the board. When I hit it, it was kind of a shock. But I think my pride was hurt more than anything else.” – Greg Louganis

“Everything was all so mixed up at that point: the HIV, the shock and embarrassment of hitting my head and an awful feeling that it was all over.” – Greg Louganis

“You better believe there will be times in your life when you’ll be feeling like a stumbling fool. So take it from me: you’ll learn more from your accident than anything that you could ever learn in school.” – Billy Joel

“A man ever supports great and inevitable misfortunes with more calmness and resignation than trifling accidents.” – unknown

Also on this day:
Lord Haw-Haw – In 1945, William Joyce is sentenced to death for high treason against the British Government.
Buy a Vowel? – In 1983, Wheel of Fortune began evening broadcasts.

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One Response

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  1. Sherry said, on September 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Hmm. I knew Louganis was HIV+ years ago & years ago – but I didn’t know that ‘little bit of history’ in ref to Dr. Puffer sewing up Louganis sans gloves after he’d mashed his noggin against the diving board. It’s wonderful, of course, that the doc remains HIV- lo these many years later, but I am curious: did Puffer ever say how he felt about Louganis NOT revealing his HIV+ status BEFORE he was sewn up? I like Louganis – always have – but I find it somewhat . . . disingenuous . . . that given the hysteria surrounding HIV/AIDS at the time AND the mental/physical toughness of pro athletes like him, that Louganis would “forget” he had HIV! I think, frankly, that he’s fibbing about it.


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