Mark Lenzi, Olympic gold medalist diver, dies at 43


Mark Lenzi dives. (Ken Levine/GETTY IMAGES)

Mark Lenzi, an Olympic diver and gold medalist in the 1992 Games who became the first in his sport to score 100 points in a single dive, died April 9 at a hospital in Greenville, N.C. He was 43.

His death was announced by his alma mater, Indiana University, which did not disclose a cause. His mother told the Free Lance-Star newspaper of Fredericksburg, where Mr. Lenzi grew up, that her son had been hospitalized recently because of fainting spells caused by low blood pressure and that he had a heart ailment.

Mr. 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. “He made it look so easy,” Mr. Lenzi later said.

Although he had received a college wrestling scholarship, Mr. Lenzi decided to become a diver.

His one problem, he said in 1992, was that Fredericksburg had no competitive swimming pools and no diving boards. He began commuting to Fairfax County to practice diving with a coach. Within two months of taking up the sport, he earned a diving scholarship to Indiana University.

At Indiana, he won NCAA titles on the one-meter springboard and was the NCAA diver of the year in 1989 and 1990.

At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he won the gold medal in the three-meter springboard by performing a reverse 31 / 2 somersault in the tuck position, one of the hardest dives in his repertoire.

Standing 5 feet 5 inches, Mr. Lenzi 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 41 / 2 somersault from a three-meter springboard.

In 1991, he set a new scoring record — previously held by Louganis — by earning a 101.85 in competition after performing a 31 / 2 somersault from the tuck position. He won more than 188 international springboard championships.

Mr. Lenzi came out of retirement to compete at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he won a bronze medal.

Mark Edward Lenzi was born July 4, 1968, in Redstone Arsenal, Ala. After graduating from Stafford High School in 1986, he received a psychology degree from Indiana University in 1990.

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

According to a death notice in the Free Lance-Star, survivors include his wife, the former Dorothy Koncsol of Greenville; his mother, Ellie Lenzi of Fredericksburg; two brothers; a sister; and a grandmother.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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Medals
Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States 8 19 17 44
China 10 11 7 41
Russia 2 11 3 35
See complete medals table
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