Christina Loukas: diving for gold
By Kathy Tzilivakis
As a child, Christina Loukas would do flips off the couch for fun. Today, she’s diving off a springboard going for Olympic medals.
What’s it like training for the Olympics?
I’m training in Woodlands, Texas, just outside Huston. I actually moved down here about a year and a half ago to train with the coach Kenny Armstrong [a three-time Canadian Olympian]. I am training twice a day, Monday-Friday. I am also doing other things like palates and yoga outside of practicing. I’m training about 5 or 6 hours each day. Training gets more intense and more focused the closer the Olympics come.
What’s the hardest part of diving?
I would say the fact that you are trying to get perfection. This can be very frustrating because you have put in so many hours of training and then you go to a competition and it’s just five dives. All this time and energy spent and you only get five chances to get everything right. It’s a very mental sport. It’s not only physically draining but definitely mental. But that’s also what makes it fun and competitive.
You made your Olympic debut in Beijing. What was that like?
It was an amazing experience and I am so glad I was able to do it. This is what is motivating me to go to London. In Beijing I finished 9th. I want to go back and do a lot better.
What’s changed since Beijing?
I am doing the same dives that I did in 2008. But I think the biggest change for me has been switching coaches. In 2010, I decided I needed to make a change if I wanted to take my diving to the next level. I guess I wanted a new set of eyes to watch my diving. That’s why I moved to Huston to train with the coach there. I’ve changed my technique a lot.
Tell me about your Greek background?
My father was born in Greece. My whole family, my cousins, aunts and my whole Greek side is so close to me. They are my biggest supporters. I think you get that in the Greek community – this sense of togetherness. I really feel that a lot, especially when I went to the Olympics in Beijing. Everyone at my church was so supportive of me and they wanted the best for me and they followed my competitions.
For me it was really helpful knowing that I had a big support group back home. And, my family travels everywhere with me. When I went to a world cup in London, I think I had 10 people there with me. They had come all the way from Chicago.
Have you thought about what you would like to do when you retire from diving?
Career-wise, I would like to work with elite athletes.
Do you have any advice for an athlete who is just starting out?
I think the hardest part for me was that when I was younger people would say ‘Oh, wow you’re so good!’ and they used to tell me that I could make it far –to the Olympics. I just never believed them. I had no confidence in my ability.
I think my advice would be that if you are passionate about something, you should really go after it. And make it your priority. If you set a goal, just go after it and things will happen.
Nine-time national champion (1-meter 2007, 2008, 2009 x2; 3-meter 2010, 2011; synchronized 3-meter 2009, 2010; synchronized 10-meter 2006)
Won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on 3-meter
2008 U.S. Olympic Team member (3-meter)
Finished as high as second on 3-meter three times at national championship meets before winning her first title on that event in 2010
Silver medalist on 3-meter synchro at 2012 FINA Diving World Series (Dubai, Tijuana), bronze medalist on 3-meter (Tijuana)
Fourth on 3-meter at 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai (first top-four finish by a U.S. woman on 3-meter at Worlds since 1994)
Eighth on 3-meter at 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome
Ninth on 3-meter at 2008 Olympic Games
Fourth on 3-meter at 2008 FINA World Cup in Beijing
Silver medalist on 3-meter at 2007 World University Games
Silver medalist on 3-meter synchro at 2007 Italian Grand Prix, Comunidad de Madrid