With the current Olympic games going strong in Riio, Rockford native Ron Merriott reflects on the ’84 Los Angeles Games where he won a bronze medal in diving.
Merriott’s diving career began at Rockford West and then continued at Michigan. It was in Los Angeles where his career peaked when he won the bronze medal in the 3 meter springboard . Qualifying for the Olympics was far from a given for Merriott he tells me in a phone interview from his home now in Arizona.
“The Trials were tougher to make and get through than the Olympics. It was easier being in the Olympics after the Trials because we had so much depth in this country for diving. There were only two spots available in the sport.,” says Merriott.
Greg Louganis had a lock on one of those U.S. diving spots leaving Merriott battling everyone else in the Trials for the other one.
“The Trials was a lot of pressure,” says
But Merriott pulled through and then it was on to Los Angeles where he realized his Olympic dream. First came the opening ceremony.
“The opening ceremony was just, it was spectacular! I didn’t know what to expect and being in the United States we were the last team to walk out and the roar of the crowd and just the pageantry of it…it was beautiful,” says Merriott.
Then came the diving competition.
“I was actually pretty relaxed and I think what really helped me was the fact that I was in my own country,” says Merriott. “It’s a true statement home field advantage. It’s very important and I felt very much at home there.”
Louganis earned the gold medal as expected. A diver from China took the silver. Merriott won the bronze. Merriott and Louganis had competed against each other several times before. Though they always tried to beat each other, they pulled for each other in Los Angeles.
“When you represent the United States it’s all about Team USA, so we were all supporting each other. I was lucky I dove in that era because the sport of diving was huge and he’s a huge legend in of our sport. We both pushed each other.”
Tune in to Eyewitness News Tuesday for more with Merriott. He discusses the injury that he competed with in Los Angeles, plus the dive that clinched his medal and where that medal is now.