13th December 2018, Kolkata: Four-time Olympic Games gold medallist and diving legend Greg Louganis, International Event Ambassador of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K this year has graced the City of Joy today.
“It’s very exciting. I admire the people who are here and going to be a part of the 25K race. Fitness is a part of life. Whether it’s diet or exercising you need to take up,” Greg said about the spirit of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K.
Greg will flag off India’s only international 25K on 16 December which also celebrates Vijay Diwas as well.
Greg can boast a total of 17 global gold medals to his name; including four from the Olympics, five world championships, six Pan American titles and two from the World University Games.
The 1988, Seoul Olympic is famous for Greg’s commitment to the game and fighting spirit. During the qualifying, he hit the back of his head on the diving board requiring several stitches, an accident that should have been competition ending. However, he came back to sweep gold in the 10m platform and also in the 3m springboard, leaving global audiences dumbstruck.
About the Seoul Olympic incident and what motivated him to for the next dive Greg said: “My inspirations were Ryan White and my coach 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.”
With gold medals at the 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1988 (Seoul) Summer Olympics, on the springboard and platform, he is also the only male diver to sweep both diving events in successive Olympics.
Being a diver how Greg feels about distance running which is an event based on timing he said: “In a road race where you have the camaraderie of the people around you, you have the similar goals and aspirations, so that can be inspiring. But if you are way ahead then that shouldn’t limit you as to how successful can you be. Rather than looking at the clock feel within your body, your heart, your soul so I think that there are many elements of competition, a performance however you want to look at it. Because maybe a competitor that’s right next to you that you will never beat in your life but you are there as companions to help each other through. So it really does become a community effort and it can be such an incredibly special moment to share that with someone because not everybody can run like that.”
“You have to train for it, you work and all of a sudden your work pays off and you gotta feel good about what you are doing. That’s why when I mentor USA diving, swimming and many different sports it’s not so much about the end result. It’s about am I better today than I was yesterday? And if you can honestly say that then everyday is different. We all have bad days. Those bad days are the days where you learn a lesson. Don’t be so close that you don’t use that lesson. Not my every competition was stellar but what happened was there’s always something I could take away from that whether successful or not. That enables me to do better and move forward to the next time,” he added.
After his retirement from competition in 1989, the 58-year-old American has donned many hats and always continued his commitment to excellence. He has become a mentor and coach to many top divers including members of the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic teams, a motivational speaker, author, actor, LGBT rights activist, humanitarian and an HIV/AIDS awareness advocate and designer.