This is where having friends comes in handy! Brandon so kindly lent me his Olympic movies several months ago, and when I realized he has an entire bookshelf of almost nothing but Olympic books, I quickly informed him that I needed to borrow them. So he picked some books he thought I should read, and I set to work! (Clearly I'm just using Brandon for his Olympic things. LOL, I kid.)
"Part 1" because I'm pretty sure Brandon has my next book or two picked out already.
On The Right Track by Marion Jones: This book is pretty fascinating, and it's a really quick and easy read. Marion Jones won five medals at the Syndey 2000 Olympics, but was later stripped of them when she was found guilty of lying about taking a performance-enhancing drug. The book focuses heavily on her six months in prison, and the conditions she describes are appalling. It's kind of amazing how she managed to rebound from such a catastrophic fall and build a new life for herself. The book is several years old so I don't know what she's doing now, but at least for a while she did motivational speaking, telling kids not to do what she did. It's an interesting lesson to get from a book!
American Victory by Henry Cejudo: Oh, Henry. :P I've actually met him, and knew basically nothing about him, so it was interesting to get the inside scoop. That being said... wow. He grew up with essentially nothing and learned to wrestle basically as a means of survival. And that rough life really made him... uh, an interesting character. Haha, I'm trying to figure out how to say this without being unnecessarily judge-y or rude. But basically, he sounded like he was a really difficult guy to handle. It's funny, because I just knew him as the guy whose Olympic team ring I complimented! But his journey from being basically homeless to winning Olympic gold is really amazing, and just goes to prove that absolutely anything is possible.
In The Water They Can't See You Cry by Amanda Beard: Amanda's swimming career was primarily before my time, so this book was an entirely unknown quantity to me going in. When you look at her you see a successful athlete and model, but sheesh, did she have her demons. Her parents divorced when she was young; she was a cutter; she was bulimic; there was a period of some pretty intense boozing and drug use; and she was in a really toxic, long-term relationship. I mean, dang girl. It's crazy to think that all that was going on even while she was so successful in the pool! Nothing is as perfect as it may seem.
Age Is Just A Number by Dara Torres: It was kind of neat to read Dara's book right after Amanda's, as they were both on the Olympic team in Beijing together! And I definitely remember following Dara's results in 2008, so learning the story leading up to that comeback was really cool. I was expecting this to be more of a motivational book, like the title suggests, but it's a memoir. And a slightly confusing one at that; the timeline wasn't really linear, and she would just kind of throw in relevant anecdotes as necessary. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, probably because Dara herself is just so fascinating. She's the complete antithesis to the athlete that peaks as a teenager. The more she learned about herself, the more she was able to fine-tune her life and her swimming and make everything work to her benefit. It's really incredible, actually, and it made me really sad that she didn't qualify for London 2012! Is that weird, to get retroactively sad about something I actually remember happening? She's just such an inspiration. (An interesting thing to note is that she, like Amanda, also suffered from bulimia. I didn't realize that was such an issue in swimming.)
Now that I'm back to the 8-5 work grind I have significantly less time to read, but here's hoping I can continue working it into my schedule. 'Cause I still have a whole lot of books to get through! :)