My friend Ryan inspired me to win gold at 1988 Olympics: Louganis

by IANS |

Kolkata  :  After being hit on the head in the 3m springboard event in the preliminaries of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, legendary American diver Greg Louganis took inspiration from his friend Ryan White to come back the next day and win the gold medal.

The gay Olympic diving champion, who swept diving events in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, was diagnosed HIV-positive six months ahead of the 1988 Olympics but he kept it under wraps as it would hamper his chances of participating in the showpiece event.

Then in the preliminaries for the 3m springboard event, Greg hit his head on the board, was diagnosed with concussion and had to receive stitches.

At the time, people didn't know that Greg and Ryan had something in common - both were HIV-positive. 

Greg said later that he wondered what Ryan would do in that situation. He decided that Ryan wouldn't give up, and that helped Greg find the strength to continue.

"My inspirations were Ryan White and my coach (Ron O'Brien) who just been there and been supportive. When I hit my head on the springboard there was so much going on. I was diagnosed with HIV positive, my coach's mother was in coma and he didn't know whether to stay or go home. He decided to stay with us. 

"Both of us were rather distracted and I was the favourite but in split second after hitting the board I suddenly became underdog. I was focused and tried to do my absolute best," said Louganis, who is the International ambassador of the TSK 25K run.

"The thing I'll always remember about Ryan is his courage, strength, and sense of humour...The way Ryan lived his life continues to give me the strength and courage to do things I might not otherwise feel comfortable doing," Louganis said.

The 58-year old said HIV has helped him stay motivated mentally and physically.

"It's all about making healthy choices. I think HIV has helped motivate me mentally and physically. I look at working out and doing something physically active every day as being as important as taking my medicines." 

Louganis further added that being a dancer had helped him in diving.

"I was a dancer before, it was a big part of training before. It all has a rhythm. gymnastics, dancing or diving. I was a performer.

"I rarely looked at the scoreboard. If I looked if they miss a dive, chances htat i miss a dive. I wanted my goals higher. I didn't want to limit myself. That's the reason I made so many feats," Louganis, who has won four gold and a silver in Olympics said.

On the TSK run, he said: "You have the similar goals and aspirations, so that can be inspiring. But if you are way ahead then that should not limit you as to how successful can you be," he said.

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