‘Back On Board’ Greg Louganis’ An Inspirational Journey

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“Back On Board” does a good job of juxtaposing the thrilling competitive years of Greg Louganis, perhaps the greatest diver ever to don a Speedo, with the man he’s become nearly 40 years later.

Filmmakers Cheryl Furjanic, Will Sweeney and Karen Sim took full advantage of an abundance of Olympic and other archival footage of the young diving prodigy, their access to Louganis, as well as his coaches. They have created a riveting portrait that examines his life as an adopted child, his rise to Olympic glory, and the forces that kept him from endorsement deals and shunned by his teammates. They also note how this All-American hero couldn’t get his handsome face on the cover of a Wheaties box.

Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis

The film makes the case that Louganis combined a style and athleticism that no competitor could touch. He came off as a naive, mild-mannered boy, yet proved to have the heart of a champion when it counted. When his head slammed into the diving board at a crucial Olympic moment, he came back with a near-perfect dive. When he discovered his HIV-positive status he didn’t quit, he excelled to win more Olympic gold.

“Back On Board” is about Louganis’ journey, from coping with a youth spent perfecting his craft in the public eye, to being shunned in adulthood, to finding his place as a mentor to young Olympians, “to save them some of the heartache,” he says in the film.

Now in his 50s, Louganis comes off the way he did as a 16-year-old sophomore at the Montreal Olympics–sweet, thoughtful and a bit vulnerable. But underneath is the same gutsy guy who rose up to claim back-to-back double gold medals, a fete no diver has done ever duplicated.

Winner of the Outfest Best Documentary Feature, see more about the film at louganisdoc.com.


Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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