01/29/2010 at 01:00 AM EST
Diving legend Greg Louganis
has never backed away from a challenge.
He won four Olympic gold medals despite obstacles including a rough childhood, an abusive relationship, addictions to pills and alcohol and a devastating HIV diagnosis in 1988.
These days Louganis -- who turns 50 today -- is healthy, happy and ready for another kind of challenge: “I want to be on Dancing with the Stars
," he tells PEOPLE. “It would be such a blast.”
Known for his graceful dives (and the horrifying moment when he bashed his head on a diving board at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, requiring stitches), Louganis also danced as a child -- and was teased about it by other kids, who also taunted him over his dyslexia and dark skin tone (adopted by Greek-American parents, his birth father is Samoan).
Yet Louganis, who revealed his painful past and talked openly about his sexuality and HIV status in his 1995 memoir Breaking the Surface
, has thrived. Living in Malibu, Calif., with partner Daniel McSwiney, 46, his passion for diving has been replaced by his love of his dogs
, whom he trains for agility competitions.
Now what Louganis wants most is to dust off his Dancing
shoes -- and show off some moves of his own.
“I don’t know about the outfits, but I’ve worn worse,” laughs Louganis, who as a child wore “sequins, headbands and poofy sleeves” for jazz routines. “I’ve never done ballroom but I want to try ... Dance really captures something you just can’t put into words.” -- Alexis Chiu
For more on Louganis -- including how he stays healthy, his struggles with addiction, and his devotion to his dogs -- check out the issue of PEOPLE on stands now.
Tell us: Do you think Louganis would be a good addition to the show?