Obituary: Mark Edward Lenzi
July 4, 1968 - April 9, 2012
Mark Lenzi, the 1992 Olympic Gold medalist in the 3m springboard diving event has passed away. He was 43 years old.
Lenzi was hospitalized in critical condition at the Vidant Medical Center, in Greenville, N.C., after suffering recent fainting spells. He fell into a coma after his blood pressure fell to 78/48. Normal is 120/80. It was reported that he had been taking medication for a heart ailment.
Mark Lenzi was a high school wrestler in Fredericksburg, Virginia but was so inspired during his last year in high school when watching Greg Louganis win two gold medals in the 1984 Olympic Games that he switched to diving. This was a momentous decision for Mark. Even at this late age in his athletic career he became one of the world’s best divers.
Indiana University and Hall of Fame Diving Coach Hobie Billingsley was so thrilled by the potential of this young diver he offered him a scholarship just out of high school, with less than a year’s experience. At five feet-four inches, 160 pounds, Mark Lenzi proved Coach Billingsley to be right. Billingsley groomed Lenzi to winning two NCAA National Championships (1989, 1990) in the one-meter springboard, becoming NCAA Diver of the Year in both of those years. By age 21, in 1989, he made his first U.S. National Team. The next year he graduated from Indiana with a General Studies degree. After graduation he continued diving and preparing for the 1992 Olympic Games. Now coached by Hall of Fame Coach Dick Kimball, Lenzi was the 1991 and 1992 Phillips 66 Diver of the Year. At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Lenzi won the gold medal on the three-meter springboard by a whopping 31 points, defeating China’s Tan Liangde and Russian Dmitri Sautin. He was named the World Springboard Diver of the Year and was an AAU Sullivan Award nominee and finalist.
Following the Barcelona Games, Lenzi retired from competition. In 1994, he earned a private pilot’s license from ComAir Aviation Academy. During a 20-month period he was going through “post-Olympic blues.” When he emerged in 1993, he was determined to make it back into Olympic competition and strive for another Olympic medal. He competed in numerous international competitions in preparation for the Games. At the 1996 U.S. Olympic Diving Trials he qualified second on the three-meter springboard. At the competition in Atlanta he won the bronze medal behind Xiong Ni and Yu Zhoucheng, both of China and all within 15 points of each other.
All totaled, Lenzi won 16 international competitions on one- and three-meter boards in Pan American Games, F.I.N.A. World Cups, Alamo Cups, Australia Invitationals and other competitions. During his career, Lenzi became the first diver to score over 700 points (762.35) on the three-meter springboard for 11 dives, surpassing Greg Louganis’s 1983 world record for the highest ever score. He became the first diver to score over 100 points on a single dive (reverse 3-1/2 tuck) and the first American to complete a forward 4-1/2 somersault in competition. At the 1991 World Championships, he won the silver medal in diving’s new international event, the one-meter springboard.
Lenzi was the Diving Coach for the men’s and women’s diving teams at East Carolina University and is survived by his wife Dorothy. If you would like to e-mail a message to Mark’s wife Dorothy or his family, please click on the link
Funeral services will be Tuesday, April 10th, from 6-8pm
Wilkerson Funeral Home
2100 East 5th street
Greenville, NC 27834
Phone: (252) 752-2101
Wilkerson Funeral Home
P.O. Box 2245
Greenville, NC 27836