Five-time Olympic medalist Greg Louganis, who retired in 1988 after hitting his head on the springboard while completing a dive in a preliminary round but still managed two gold medals at the Seoul Games, was named athlete-mentor for USA Diving last year. He will accompany the team to the London Olympics from July 27-Aug 2012.
Louganis first won a silver medal in 1976 at Montreal at the age of 16 and 2 gold medals in Los Angeles in 1984. The US Diving team failed to win any Olympic medals in the last two Summer Games and won just one in 2000.
The 52-year-old author and dog trainer told NBC in an interview that he has had no involvement with the US Olympic committee since his retirement as he had not been asked prior to this nor had he felt welcome.
He was diagnosed as HIV-positive six months prior to the accident but kept it a secret so that he could compete as Olympic host South Korea then barred HIV infected people from entry. He publicly came out as gay in 1994 in a video shown at the Opening Ceremony of Gay Games IV in New York saying: "Welcome to the Gay Games, it’s great to be out and proud." In 1995, Louganis cowrote his autobiography, Breaking the Surface, that detailed a relationship of domestic abuse and rape; and that he was HIV positive.
In the NBC interview, Louganis guessed that there's another reason why he has not been asked: homophobia.
He added: "You know it’s sad, but I’ve seen changes, and that’s the reason why I’m back."
Recently, Louganis wrote about his personal experiences dealing with bullies in a column titled The Toughest Sissy in the World which was published on Huffingtonpost.com in June this year: "I almost want to thank all the bullies in my life: the ones who called me 'n*gger,' 'retard,' 'sissy boy,' and 'f*ggot'; those who threatened to throw punches at me and took my lunch money at the bus stop; those who actually threw punches at me and rubbed my face in asphalt; my dad, who whipped me with his belt until I did a dive I was too scared to do in my regular practice; the coaches who belittled me and intimidated me into pushing myself beyond what I thought I was capable of; and the man who raped me at knifepoint, whom I then stayed with for another six years. They all helped shape me, and without those experiences I could not be the person I am today. I had to learn to "forgive" myself and then find it in my heart to 'forgive' them and even bless the light in them, no matter how dim that light was. But thanking them would be going too far, and it would be inaccurate. In the end it was my inner sense of self, my willpower and determination, that got me through and helped me take those experiences and literally turn them into gold.
"Each of us has a hero inside us and a uniqueness that we may not see at first, because we are so concerned with 'fitting in.' We may have a different walk or talk, a different way of learning, a physical appearance that doesn't match others' expectations, or a different way of expressing ourselves. In time, in my own experience, I learned to celebrate my uniqueness, cherish who I am as a human being, and act out of love and compassion for my fellow human beings. And, to borrow my mom's saying, 'I make everywhere I go better, because I was there.' I practice that every day and live it to the best of my ability."
Greg Louganis's message at Gay Games IV (starts at 2:30)