Olympic diving gold medalist and champion Mark Lenzi died on Monday at the age of 43 in a Greenville, N.C. hospital from an unknown cause of death, according to reports.
Lenzi's mother Ellie told the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va., that her son was hospitalized two weeks ago at Vidant Medical Center after suffering fainting spells. His blood pressure fell to 78/48.
Lenzi, the last American male diver to win Olympic gold, which he did in 1996, was offered condolences by many in the diving community, including USA Diving Chairman Bob Rydze.
USA Diving is truly saddened by the passing of Olympic champion Mark Lenzi, Rydze said on the USA Diving website. As an Olympic gold and bronze medalist, Mark was one of our country's greatest divers, and he will be missed tremendously. On behalf of USA Diving and the entire diving community, I extend my deepest condolences to Mark's family and friends.
Even Greg Louganis, arguably the most successful American diver, expressed his sympathies.
Mark and I spoke just a few weeks ago, my heart goes out to you, Louganis commented on the USA Diving web site. There are no words to express how heartfelt a loss this is. Healing hugs, Greg.
Recently, Lenzi spent the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons as men and women's diving coach at East Carolina University. Prior to that, he coached the junior diving team at IU.
Lenzi, who won 18 international springboard championships, is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his mother, two brothers, one sister and his grandmother, Mary Cochran. Lenzi's funeral and viewing will be held Tuesday at Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greensville from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Lenzi was a wrestler in high school, but became so enamored by Greg Louganis's diving performance in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles that he took to diving
- He earned a scholarship to Indiana University, where in 1989, he swept the Big Ten titles for the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform competitions
- He won back-to-back 1-meter national championships in in 1989 and 1990
- He won back-to-back NCAA Diver of the Year awards in 1989 and 1990
- He was the first American to win a gold at the Pan American Games (in Havana, Cuba in 1991) on the 1-meter springboard
- He won gold for the 1992 Olympic 3-meter springboard in Barcelona, Spain
- He won bronze for the 1996 Olympic 3-meter springboard in Atlanta
- He became the first diver to score over 100 points (102 total) on a single dive (doing a three-and-one-half reverse somersault tuck off of a 3-meter springboard)
- He was the first diver to score more than 700 points (762.35 total) in an 11-dive competition on the 3-meter springboard
- He was the first American to successfully complete a forward, four-and-one-half somersault in competition