Louganis describes his mentoring work as a "crash course" in trying to tweak the mindsets of U.S. divers who might be obsessed with perfection.
"It's not perfection that wins a medal. It's generally who makes the fewest mistakes," he said.
And if he can move the USOC's focus even slightly away from winning the medal count, then Louganis will feel better.
"That is not where the heads of the athlete need to be," he said. "Unless you perform, the medals aren't going to come. The thing that I'm most concerned about is the aftercare."
He cites the suicide of freestyle skier Jeret "Speedy" Peterson last July and the death of former Olympic champion diver Mark Lenzi this year as examples of athletes who could have used help transitioning to the real world after retirement.
"It's a little unnerving because the USOC is so focused on the Olympians, and there's a lot of kids who don't quite make it as an Olympian and they're going through a lot of the same things," he said.
Louganis also works with the U.S. Olympians Association, a support network for former Olympic athletes. In his new roles, he feels relaxed and empowered because he's doing it his way.
"If I see something that's not quite right I'll call it out. People are going to get (angry) at me and that's OK," he said. "I got so much (grief) for coming out from USA Diving, but on the flip side of that, I've been getting notes from kids who are saying, 'You saved my life.'"
Louganis said his pull-no-punches approach seems to be working with the powers that be.
"I think they're receptive to it because I don't think they're accustomed to straight talk," he said. "It's like, 'Wow.' I know it's right in my heart, whether it's politically correct, I really don't care. Right is right."
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