At the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea on September 20, 1988, American diver Greg Louganis wins the gold medal on the springboard despite nearly knocking himself unconscious during a qualifying round dive. With the improbable victory, Louganis—who won gold medals in the 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles—becomes the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in both events, solidifying his claim as the greatest diver ever.
In a qualifying round the previous day, Louganis suffered a serious head injury while attempting a reverse two-and-a-half somersault dive. Bloodied and dazed, he received five stitches from a doctor before returning to the board and finishing third.
“I knew as soon as I was coming off the board that I was going to be close because I could feel it in my own body,” he told ABC’s Barbara Walters in 1995. “What I was concerned about was hitting my hands … I started coming out of the dive and I heard this big hollow thud … and then I find myself in the water. I just held my head … I just wanted to hold the blood in.”
Louganis, who publicly disclosed that he was gay at the Gay Games in 1994, told Walters in 1995 that he and his coach, Ron O’Brien, knew that he was HIV-positive before the 1988 Olympics. But they didn’t tell the public or the Olympic Committee, sparking a controversy. Louganis was criticized for potentially putting at risk the doctor who treated him following his head injury in the qualifying round.
Louganis advocated for the LGBTQ movement following his retirement in 1988.