Greg Louganis - Talents And Trials
Talents and Trials
Gregory Louganis was born on January 29, 1960, to two fifteen-year-olds, one Samoan and the other Northern European, who gave him up for adoption. Interestingly, his adoptive parents, Peter and Frances Louganis, were specifically looking for a darker child, in contrast to their own fair-haired, light-skinned community. Louganis' Samoan ancestry fit the bill, and he grew up looking and feeling different from most of his classmates. His dyslexia, misdiagnosed as a learning disability, did not help, and he was often taunted by other schoolchildren. His small stature also left him victimized by bullies, further undermining his self-esteem.
At the same time, Louganis was discovering special talents that would offset all the isolation and the taunting,
and would ultimately carry him to Olympic glory. From the age of 18 months, he had been taking dancing and acrobatics lessons with his sister Despina. Louganis proved a natural, and with his partner Eleanor, he won a number of dance competitions. He developed a comfort on stage that he lacked at home and at school, but perhaps the most important aspect was the method his dance instructor used. She insisted that the children visualize their dance routines before performing them. These visualization techniques would help Louganis master highly technical routines in the sport that would ultimately capture his interest: diving.
When Louganis began doing acrobatic routines off the diving board at a nearby pool, his worried mother signed him up for diving lessons. Greg took to the sport immediately, and soon showed a rare ability, even more than with dancing. Before long, he dropped dancing altogether to focus on his diving. While his father had never shown any interest in his dancing, he showed an intense interest in Greg's diving. It was a sign that some things were okay for boys, and others were not.