Diving into the mind of Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis
Date: 15/02/2021

Sitting down for a chat with one of diving's greatest was an honor for podcast host Orlando Duque, one of cliff diving's greatest, just as much as it was an advising and absorbing conversation. Greg Louganis, the 4-time Olympic gold medalist, offers a few words of wisdom and chats openly about some of his most personal sporting and life experiences.

Episode 7 is out now, and here is Louganis in his own words:

1) Equality
It's so important to see diving stepping up to the plate, making those steps to equality and encouraging diversity. One of the things we're at in high diving is trying to get more women involved and by doing that it encourages fair play. Everybody is treated equally; you have the same advantages and so it is really encouraging seeing Red Bull Cliff Diving stepping up to the plate and having that in place.

2) Post-Olympic blues
Going to the Olympic Games there's a really high high because you're at the Olympic Games; you achieved a goal and win or lose there's a valley that you go through, because the high high is usually followed by a low low. Going into the 1976 Games I was aware of that, but it didn't necessarily help me get through the depression I went through afterwards. I was a Silver medalist, but I felt like a loser because I went there to win. I didn't go there to take second and so I felt like I let everybody down. That's the mentality of a 16-year-old. I was pretty young and impressionable.

When you're an Olympic athlete, an Olympian, everybody expects you to be bulletproof. You're like the superhuman and you are bulletproof. Well, we aren't. We're just human and so it's important that that be acknowledged and understood; and also, the importance of having friends around and family, that you can share those things with; not be afraid. I've had athletes reaching out to me from other countries to make those adjustments, and so it's important that we're there to lean on each other and to be leaned on.

Someone to lean on...Greg and Orlando in high spirits after a synchro dive in Japan in 2016. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

3) Temporary vs. permanent
Anything bad that happens or anything good that happens is temporary. And no matter how bad it gets or how good it gets, things will change. And it's important to know that to really appreciate the good things when they happen; and also, no matter how dark it may seem, that is only temporary, you know because I did try and commit suicide and that is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Keeping a watchful eye over the World Series athletes in his role as sports director. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

4) Learn to integrate your life
I learned how to hyper focus. I could be at the World Championships or the Olympic Games and an atomic bomb could go off and I wouldn't even know it. I was unshakeable. But there were things I had to learn after my diving career and that was how to really integrate all the different areas in my life into a single person, whether it's relationships, friendships, finances. It's almost like there were several different Gregs: the Greg that performed at stage, the Greg that did the diving; integrating all of that and appreciating it, I feel like I am a much more rounded person really acknowledging my strengths and weaknesses.

5) Lift yourself by lifting others
What you all are doing as seniors of the sport – passing down that knowledge, mentoring the kids – that's really where the magic happens. That's where they're really able to blossom and gain that confidence. When they have that support and backing from somebody that's actually been there and can talk them through that, that's where the sport is going to be elevated.

Greg shares a few words of wisdom with champion Gary Hunt in Texas. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

That's one thing I always said throughout my diving career: the records are fine – I've got 47 national titles – but I want to see my records broken. And I feel like there's that same spirit within the cliff diving community. They want to lift the sport up, and by lifting others up you're actually lifting yourself up – your top levels, how well you can perform personally.

Listen to the whole conversation now:

Listen to all of the podcast episodes here.