Was four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis privy to Bruce Jenner’s identity struggle during the height of their athletic fame? Louganis was at HBO’s TCA session this afternoon as he’s the subject of the August 4 documentary Back On Board: Greg Louganis. In comparison to the turmoil that Louganis weathered, today’s society has by and large accepted and embraced Jenner’s decision to become Caitlyn. Louganis didn’t have a similar experience when it was revealed that he was HIV-positive in 1995. There weren’t any reality TV shows on E! making Louganis the star. There wasn’t a Vanity Fair cover shoot. Most of Louganis’ corporate sponsors dropped him, except for Speedo, which stayed with him through 2007. Nonetheless, Louganis marched on, switching careers and heading into acting, which he still pursues.
Recalling his early days with Jenner, Louganis said, “We marched in the opening ceremonies in 1976. We were then on the Medco 2008 Tour of Champions…I thought to myself I couldn’t get a word in edge wise (when I was around Bruce).”
When further pressed by the TCA corps, Louganis said, “Our paths haven’t crossed since she transitioned, but I’m looking forward (to meeting her). What’s so apparent whether you’re bisexual, transgender or a transvestite is that we all have our journeys.”
In response to whether he was aware of the emotional pain Jenner was enduring hiding himself at the time, Louganis said, “I had no idea…It’s not something that was at the forefront of our conversation.”
Back On Board shows Louganis, and how he rebounded in the aftermath of the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics when he hit his head on the diving board, leaking blood in the pool. The incident caused concern later on in the diving community after it was revealed that Louganis was HIV-positive, despite the fact that the blood in the pool posed no risk. When asked about those Olympians who wound up reaping more endorsements than him, Louganis said “I was in it for the love of the sport and not the pride, it was about accomplishing an achievement. It wasn’t for the money.”
Director Cheryl Furjanic explained that she became inspired to make a movie about Louganis after her producer Will Sweeney heard that the diver was heading back to the sport. Said Furjanic, “We asked ourselves, why was this diver away for 20 years?…We were committed to figuring that out.”