Relive Greg Louganis’ diving board accident on 30th anniversary

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Before the 1996 Olympics, an international panel of journalists selected one outstanding Olympian from each previous Summer Games.

Greg Louganis was chosen from Seoul 1988.

Wednesday marks 30 years since Louganis smacked his head on the springboard in the preliminary round of those Olympics, though he still qualified for the next day’s final and earned gold.

“After hitting my head on the springboard, I was really scared,” Louganis said in an NBC interview at prelims, after receiving four stitches and performing two more dives. “My concern was I didn’t know how bad the injury was. Fortunately, it was just a minor cut. … Those kinds of things are bad to look at [laugh].”

That wasn’t the whole story.

Louganis revealed seven years later, after retiring, that he had been HIV positive at the time of the Seoul Olympics.

His coach, Ron O’Brien, one of the few who knew, smuggled the medication into Seoul, Louganis said, because he wouldn’t have been allowed in if it was known he was HIV positive.

Louganis revisited the incident for an NBC profile ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“I heard this big, hollow thud, and then I went crashing into the water,” Louganis said. “Then I realized that was my head that just hit the board. My first feelings were embarrassment, and I was trying to figure out how to get out of the pool without anybody seeing me. And then I got scared because I knew I was HIV positive. Had I done it all over again, I would have told the doctor of my HIV status. That’s the only person that really needed to know.”

Louganis remains one of just two divers to sweep the springboard and platform at multiple Olympics, along with countrywoman Pat McCormick.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Olympians discuss the role of LGBT allies

Courtesy of Athlete Ally
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NEW YORK – To the global soccer community, Heather O’Reilly was known by the nickname HAO (pronounced “hey-oh”). But to her teammates, she was affectionately called GAO (pronounced “gay-oh”) for her support of LGBT athletes.

O’Reilly, who is retired and married to husband Dave Werry, was recently honored by Athlete Ally for helping to create an LGBT-inclusive athletic environment for the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

“Athletes like Heather are exactly what we need,” said Lori Lindsey, a former teammate of O’Reilly, in an interview last Tuesday at Athlete Ally’s annual Action Awards in New York City. “You are starting to see more and more gay athletes come out of the closet to stand up and speak out, but really the biggest evolution is having straight allies to support and speak up for us.”

A record 53 out gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes competed at the Rio Olympics, according to Outsports, up from 23 athletes at the London Games.

“It was a far more openly diverse Olympic Games than we’ve ever had,” said Greg Louganis, a five-time Olympic diving medalist. “I think it will continue to trend that way.”

53 athletes are a small fraction of the more than 11,000 athletes who competed in Rio. Athlete Ally sends bracelets and backpack patches to athletes who want to show their support of the LGBT community in the Olympic Village.

“In order to make [publically coming out] more welcoming, we need more people to be visible in their support of the LGBT community,” said Hudson Taylor, the Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally.

O’Reilly showed her support of LGBT community by participating in the EveryFan campaign, which highlighted the challenges LGBT fans face when attending a sporting event. The former University of North Carolina soccer player also spoke out against H.B. 2, North Carolina’s controversial state law that governs transgender bathroom access.

“I think I have the responsibility as a professional athlete to use my voice for things that I believe in,” said O’Reilly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. “For me, treating people with respect and including everybody is a no brainer.”

Louganis speaks with fellow Olympians and encourages them to be vocal in their support of LGBT community.

“You may feel like you are stating the obvious,” Louganis said, “but a lot of times it helps for the obvious to be stated in an emphatic way.”

Star Olympians continue to highlight ESPN’s Body Issue

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ESPN the Magazine announced Tuesday a roster of 19 athletes for this year’s Body Issue, and 10 are Olympians. That’s the most Olympic athletes since 2012.

The list likely will grow to 11 with the coming announcement of the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team, as World Cup veteran Christen Press will appear in the magazine. Paratriathlete Allysa Seely is also on ESPN’s roster, and she is set to make her Paralympic debut as her sport is included in the Games for the first time.

The Body Issue will appear online July 6 and hit newsstands two days later. It will be highlighted by basketball star Dwyane Wade, who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Games. He’d been asked to pose for the issue before, but finally agreed after seven years.

“It’s bigger than me showing my body off,” Wade said. “That’s not as important to me as telling a story of overcoming a fear. It hopefully gives someone confidence to really be their authentic self.”

Also from the basketball court will be Elena Delle Donne, who will make her Olympic debut in Rio this summer. Wrestler Adeline Gray will also appear in the magazine before making her Olympic debut.

Baseball will be represented by Jake Arrieta, who pitched and won bronze for Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Games, the sport’s last appearance in the Olympics.

Other current Olympians appearing in the Body Issue will be swimmer Nathan Adrian (three-time medalist from 2008 and ’12 Games), steeplechase runner Emma Coburn (2012 Olympics), fencer Nzingha Prescod (2012 Olympics), beach volleyball player April Ross (silver medalist in 2012), and boxer Claressa Shields (gold medalist in 2012).

Retired diver Greg Louganis will also appear as the issue’s oldest athlete. The 56-year-old won a silver medal in 1976, and then two gold medals at each of the 1984 and ’88 Olympics.

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