Not even a head injury could stand in the way of Greg Louganis’s Olympic glory.
“It’s been so many years since that happened, I still get, ‘Oh I remember when you hit your head!’” joked the medal-winning diver.
Louganis entered the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as the greatest diver on planet Earth. The 28-year-old American athlete had already won two gold medals at the ’84 Olympics in LA, and was poised to defend his diving glory. But during the preliminary rounds, his medaling chances were thrown into jeopardy.
Louganis struck his head on the diving board in the middle of a jump and suffered a concussion, as well as a sizable wound which required stitches.
“I think the reason why people remember that is because when it happened it was so unexpected and there was actually a visceral response, and it was like ‘Oh my God!’ he stated. “And it’s almost like it burned that image in their brains.”
Despite his injury, Louganis was still eager to compete. On his next qualifying dive, he earned a high score and advanced to the finals. He ended up clinching his second-straight gold medal in the three-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform. ABC’s Wide World of Sports even named him athlete of the year.
Louganis continued to define bravery at later events. He publicly came out during the 1994 Gay Games, and published an autobiography announcing to the world that he was HIV positive.