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O'Brien Retires From Coaching
July 7 1996
Asso. Press

Eight-time Olympic diving coach retiring

ATLANTA - Con O'Brien is ready to take weekends off.

The eight-time U.S. Olympic diving coach planned to end his career Wednesday night - 34 years and six Olympic champions after he first began coaxing athletes to take a plunge from the heights.

"This is my last day of coaching, but I'm not real sentimental about it," said O'Brien, 58. "I had a good 34 years of doing it, and I feel happy about it, and I feel that it's the right time for me to move on."

It's fitting that America's greatest diving coach is retiring at the Olympics. Over the years, the games have been the stage for O'Brien's biggest successes.

Under O'Brien's tutelage, Greg Louganis pulled off a rare sweep of the gold medals on platform and springboard in the 1984 and '88 Olympics. O'Brien also coached Jennifer Chandler, the 1976 springboard gold medalist.

Jenny Keim will be the last diver coached by O'Brien at the Olympics. She advanced to Wednesday night's springboard final, although she was a longshot to earn a medal.

O'Brien had no special plans after his final competition. "I'm going to be here until about 11:30 or 12 o'clock," he said. "Probably go get something to eat and go to bed." He needs the sleep.

For years, O'Brien has gotten up before sunrise to supervise workouts at his training base in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His days in the sun show on his tanned and weathered face.

As long as O'Brien's been around the pool, he still gets a charge from watching one of his divers teeter on the edge of the board.

"If you don't get some butterflies then you're not ready, even as a coach. If you feel flat standing on the deck, something's wrong," he said.

"If you get too nervous, though, you can make your divers nervous, so you have to get somewhere in between." Perhaps mindful of that recent stress, O'Brien is happy to be leaving.

"I don't think I'll miss it. I did my time in the coaching arena and I'm going to do some other things that I think will be exciting and challenging," he said. "I'm looking forward to that and having a little more flexibility in my life. Might even have a two-day weekend for a change."

By The Associated Press Edited

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