It was a heart-stopping moment in the 1988 Olympic Games at Seoul when American high-diver Greg Louganis hit his head on the board in mid-dive during the qualifying round. The gash on his head required stitches, but a mere ten minutes later, he was back to complete his dives. Two days later, Louganis went on to win the gold medal both in the springboard and platform diving events, for a record second time.
Louganis had first won a medal, a silver in the platform event, as a 16-year-old in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The boycott of the Moscow Games by the U.S.A. robbed him of the chance to prove his mettle. In 1984, at Los Angeles, Louganis became the first male Olympian in 56 years to win golds in both diving events.
Born to a Samoan father and American mother, both teenagers, Louganis was adopted by a Greek couple when he was nine months old. In his 1995 autobiography, Breaking the Surface, Louganis revealed that he was abused by his foster-father as a child, taunted in school because he was dyslexic and brown-skinned and went through a turbulent adolescence marred by alcohol, drug abuse and several half-hearted attempts at suicide.
But Louganis, who started winning diving competitions from the age of 9, overcame every hurdle to reach the pinnacle of success. Now, at 38, he is an animal rights and AIDS activist, and has made a new career in acting.