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Mark Lenzi, Olympic diving gold medalist, dead at 43

Chris Chase
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Mark Lenzi, the 1992 gold medalist in men's springboard, died Monday at age 43.

The American diver was hospitalized in Greenville, N.C. two weeks ago after suffering a series of fainting spells.

Lenzi earned gold at the Barcelona Olympics and followed it up with a bronze medal performance in Atlanta. He was an All-American diver at the Indiana University, winning championships in the one-meter springboard, three-meter springboard and platform events in 1989.

No American man has won a diving medal since Lenzi.

The Fredricksburg, Va. native had spent the past two seasons coaching diving at East Carolina University.

Lenzi started diving at age 16, after seeing Greg Louganis win gold at the 1984 Olympics. He briefly left his parents' house later that year when he told his father he was quitting wrestling to take up the sport. After two weeks of living with a neighbor, Mark moved back home.

His father sat in the stands in Barcelona wearing a handmade shirt and later admitted that he had been wrong about his son's pursuit. ""Sometimes," Bill Lenzi said at the time, "maybe parents don't know what's best for their kids.

Mark Lenzi continued American dominance in the springboard, following up Louganis' two gold medals by pulling ahead late in the competition to earn his spot on the podium. Since then, Chinese men have ruled the diving well.

In 1991, Lenzi became the first diver to score 100 points on a single dive. His reverse three-and-one-half tuck scored him 101.85 points at the US Indoor Championships.

"As an Olympic gold and bronze medalist, Mark was one of our country's greatest divers, and he will be missed tremendously," USA Diving chairman Bob Rydze said in a statement posted on USAdiving.org.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy.

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