Inspiring books to get you in the Summer Olympics spirit

Ahhh, the Olympics: the magical time of year when you're allowed to chant "USA! USA! USA!" unironically with your face painted like Old Glory.

But with the excitement of the 2016 Summer Olympics, this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro seem a little different, amid controversy about the water in Rio, concerns about the Zika virus, debates about nationwide bans due to doping and anxiety over event security, this installment seems more than a little hectic and apprehensive.

In the spirit of encouraging optimism about the 2016 Summer Olympics, here are four inspiring stories from real-life American athletes who persevered to find Olympic glory:

"Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption," by David Boudia with Tim Ellsworth

David Boudia, a diver from Texas, won the gold in 2012 for the 10-meter platform dive. He was the first American to win gold in diving since the 2000 Summer Olympics, and the first man to win since 1998.


However, before achieving his dream, he had to struggle with crippling failure. In the 2008 Olympics, he didn't even come close to winning a medal, let alone the gold. This memoir tells his story — one of persistence, determination and faith. This inspiring read will help you realize that when you put your mind to it, anything is possible.

(B O)

"Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games," by Lopez Lomong with Mark Tabb

If you're looking for a true inspiration, the buck stops at Olympic track and field athlete Lopez Lomong.

Born in South Sudan, Lomong is one of the "Lost Boys" of the Second Sudanese Civil War. As a child, he literally had to run for his life to escape imprisonment and captivity in Sudan, making it to Kenya on foot. Spending years in a refugee camp near Nairobi, he finally made it to the USA in 2001, becoming both an NCAA champion and citizen in 2007.

In 2008, he competed in the Summer Olympics and carried the flag for the USA in the opening ceremony. The American Dream doesn't get realer than this remarkable story of resilience and true tenacity.

(O L)

"The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics," by Daniel James Brown


Did you love "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand (or even just the movie version)? If your answer is "yes," then you'll probably love "The Boys in the Boat," too. It follows the 1936 U.S. Olympics rowing team, which, despite its unlikely collection of working-class athletes coming straight out of the American Depression, won Olympic gold.

A stirring story of eight improbable heroes coming together to make their country proud, Brown creates the narrative from the real-life journals of the teammates. Plus, the book has also been turned into a great documentary,

(B O L)

(Key: B=available at Barnes & Noble at Apache Mall; O=available through online booksellers; L=available at the Rochester Public Library)

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