September 19

This Day in History

Sports

Sep 19, 1988:

Louganis wins gold in springboard

On September 19, 1988, just one day after sustaining a head injury in a frightening accident, American diver Greg Louganis wins gold in the springboard competition at the Summer Olympics, in Seoul, South Korea. It was his second consecutive Olympic gold in the event.

Four years earlier, at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Louganis had been unstoppable, winning gold decisively in both the springboard and platform competitions. By the time the 1988 Olympics rolled around, however, many in the diving world believed Louganis was past his prime. As if to prove his doubters wrong, Louganis got off to a strong start in Seoul, and led in the preliminaries of the springboard competition going into the ninth round on September 18. For his ninth dive, Louganis attempted a reverse 2 1/2 somersault pike but failed to clear the board, and hit the back of his head on it as he fell into the water, his dive incomplete.

To the delight and relief of his many fans, Louganis returned to make his final two dives after a quick trip to the trainer for five stitches to close the gash in his head, and secured his place in the final. Later, he said of the accident, "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."

The next morning, Louganis fought through his nerves to nail all 11 of his dives, proving that he was still the best diver in the world. Louganis also won repeat gold in the men’s platform competition, becoming the first man ever to win consecutive golds in both events.

On October 2, Louganis was awarded the United States Olympic Committee Spirit Award and later announced his retirement from competition to pursue an acting career.

In 1995, Louganis confirmed that he was suffering from the AIDS virus.

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