Diver wrestled with early ambition before tucking into record scores

MARK EDWARD LENZI DIVER 4-7-1968 9-4-2012



4-7-1968 9-4-2012

MARK Lenzi, a diving gold medallist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games who became the first in his sport to score 100 points in a single dive, has died in hospital in Greenville, North Carolina. Aged 43, he had a heart ailment.

Lenzi was a high school wrestler when he became captivated by the artistry of diver Greg Louganis in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Although he received a college wrestling scholarship, Lenzi decided to become a diver. His only problem was that the college in Fredericksburg had no competitive swimming pools and no diving boards, so he began commuting to another county to practise diving with a coach. Within two months he earned a diving scholarship to Indiana University.

There he won state titles on the one-metre springboard and was North Carolina's diver of the year in 1989 and 1990.

At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he won the gold medal in the three-metre springboard by performing a reverse 3 somersault in the tuck position, one of the hardest dives in his repertoire. He was able to twist and contort his compact shape to perform some of his sport's most difficult dives. In 1989, he became the first American in competition to complete a forward 4 somersault from a three-metre springboard.

In 1991, he set a new scoring record, previously held by Louganis, by earning a 101.85 in competition after performing a 3 somersault from the tuck position. Lenzi, who won more than 188 international springboard championships, came out of retirement to compete at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he won a bronze medal.

Born in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, he graduated from high school in 1986 and received a psychology degree from Indiana University in 1990.

After retiring from diving, he became a coach for younger athletes.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his mother, Ellie, two brothers, a sister, and a grandmother.

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