"Been there, done that," Greg Louganis says he tells himself every time he hears someone describe him as the "greatest male diver" of all time

By Johnny Dodd
January 15, 2020 11:58 AM
Louganis in December 2019.
Patrik Giardino

Olympic diving legend Greg Louganis was rummaging through his dresser one afternoon not long ago when he stumbled upon an old Speedo he’d last worn decades earlier for a promotional poster for the swimwear company.

“I tried it on,” recalls the four-time gold medalist in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, “and I was like, ‘Oh my god, it fits … I’m not doing too bad for someone about to turn 60.’ “

A few weeks later Louganis was standing on the same diving board in Mission Viejo, California, where the original photo was taken, determined to recreate an updated version of his iconic poster from 1989.

His only worry was that the 30-year-old red, white and blue lycra swimsuit would disintegrate once it hit the heavily chlorinated pool water. “I can’t get this suit wet,” he told the photographer. “I want this to be a G-rated shoot.”

The fact that Louganis looks like he’s barely aged comes despite the twisting highs and “tough” lows his life has taken over the years.

“There have been some rough, chaotic times,” says Louganis, 59, who will be heading to Tokyo for the upcoming 2020 summer Olympic Games to work with Brazil’s Globo TV.

Now on the verge of turning 60 on Jan. 29, the one-time superstar athlete — who became one of the first high-profile athletes to come out as gay in 1994, six years after being diagnosed with HIV — is too busy to spend much time dwelling on the past.

“Been there, done that,” Louganis says he tells himself every time he hears someone describe him as the “greatest male diver” of all time. “Whenever I hear that, I think, ‘OK, but now what are you going to do with your life?’ “

RELATED: Greg Louganis: How I Found My Birth Mother

Louganis in 1984.
Tony Duffy/Getty

Turns out, Louganis — who has been happily married to paralegal Johnny Chaillot, 58, since 2013 — has done plenty since becoming the first diver to win gold in both the springboard and platform events in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

Most importantly, he’s happy to be alive and healthy after nearly dying from a fungal infection in the early 1990s.

RELATED: Olympic Diver Greg Louganis Reveals How He Found His Birth Father After Decades of Feeling Abandoned

“My T cells are higher than they have ever been and it’s been that way for awhile now,” says Louganis, whose doctor recently began reducing the number of medications he takes each day to combat the disease.

He’s also swapped his passion for diving with training dogs (and their handlers) for agility competitions and has even won a number of national championships with his Parson Russel terriers— Nipper and Dobby.

“Some of the treatments I’ve had to go through are pretty harsh,” recalls Louganis, who insists that dogs have gotten him through some of his toughest times. “And when I felt most scared or insecure, my dogs have been there for me.”

In recent years the Olympic icon—who travels the globe as the sports director for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series—has also begun forging closer relationships with his biological father, Fouvale Lutu, 80, and mother, Cynthia Harris, 77, teenage sweethearts who had placed an infant Louganis up for adoption shortly after his birth. (Louganis was raised by adoptive parents Peter and Frances Louganis, both of whom are now deceased.)

“We’re working on trying to figure out boundaries and how to navigate them,” says Louganis.

For more of Greg Louganis’ story, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Wednesday.

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