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Greatest Samoan Sporter; Greg Louganis
The son of a Samoan father and a European mother.

Greg Louganis began competing in diving at age 10. By 16, he had won his first Olympic medal, a silver medal on the platform in 1976. At 24, he became the first man in 56 years to win two gold medals in diving by winning both the platform and springboard events. In 1988, competing against divers half his age, he became the first to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympics.

Greg’s diving accomplishments do not stop there. He is a six time World Champion and has held 47 National Championship titles. At the Pan Am Games he earned six gold medals and in 1985 he was awarded the Sullivan Award as the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete.

Greg Louganis is clearly the world’s greatest diver and a fine athlete. At the 1988 Olympic Games he was awarded the Maxwell House/United States Olympic Committee Spirit Award as the Olympic athlete who had best exhibited the ideals of the Olympic spirit, demonstrated extraordinary courage and contributed significantly to the sport. Greg is more than just a diver, he stands out as a human being as well. Greg speaks out for many organizations including youth clubs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation groups, and organizations for the dyslexic.

Greg's autobiography, "Breaking the Surface," spent five weeks at number one on the New York Times Best-Seller List. He then produced a Video Diary called "Looking To the Light," which picked up where "Breaking the Surface" left off. His second book, "For the Life of Your Dog," has been published.

His achievements compensated for a the disadvantages and prejudices he faced in life. At nine months of age, Louganis, the son of a Samoan father and European mother, both of whom were just 15 when they became parents, was adopted by a Californian couple.

Named Gregory Efthimios Louganis by his adoptive parents, the diver showed athleticism from a young age and loved to perform before an audience. He had dance and tap lessons and took part in shows.

On the darker side, his childhood was plagued by the bullying he suffered from peers who mocked his stutter, his dyslexia and his mixed race. He later recalled being called "nigger" and "retard", and remembered the regular beatings he endured from fellow pupils at school.

To escape, Louganis took to drink and smoking tobacco and marijuana. He was just 12 and considered himself an alcoholic. When that contributed to him kicking his mother, his parents handed him over to the police.

There was also another escape - diving. His parents had a pool in the backyard and the young Louganis started to perform acrobatics off a diving board.

He took part in the Junior Olympics at Colorado Springs when he was just 11, when he caught the eye of Sammy Lee, by then a physician who also happened to run the diving programme at Mission Viejo Swim Club.

When asked by Louganis senior how much he would have to pay for coaching, Lee, according to Sports Illustrated, replied: "I do it for love. But listen, he'll have to live up to these requirements: no smoking, no drinking, and I want my home pool cleaned regularly."

And so the great talent was nurtured. At 16, Louganis made the US diving team for the 1976 Olympic Games. He finished second in the platform behind Klaus Dibiasi, the Italian who is the only diver ever to win three successive Olympic titles - his victories achieved in 1968, 1972 and 1976 - and sixth in the springboard.

He won his first world platform title in 1978 before the boycott of the Moscow Games prevented him from confirming his supremacy at the Games. In 1982 he won both platform and springboard world titles.


Greg Louganis