5 Olympian Autobiographies for the Opening Ceremony

Because if we can’t compete in the Olympics ourselves, we can at least read about it, right?

Author's Corner Black Voices Book Culture Diverse Voices Female Authors Female Voices Memoirs & Biographies On This Day Recommendations

Today marks the start of the Tokyo Olympics, with none other than the Opening Ceremony. And after being rescheduled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the energy for the Games is at an all-time high. Fans and families of the athletes are gathering everywhere to cheer on their team, even if remotely. So while this year’s event is different from previous ones, audiences can still expect a nice change on their screens.



In honor of this kickoff, we’ve gathered a list of autobiographies written by past Olympians who share their experience in the spotlight. Because if we can’t compete in the Olympics ourselves, we can at least read about it, right?


Letters to a Young Gymnast by Nadia Comaneci




In Letters to a Young Gymnast, Nadia shows what it takes to achieve athletic perfection and become the best. With inspiring and dramatic stories from her own experience, she tells us how the young girl that Bela Karolyi discovered in a Romanian elementary school found the inner strength to become a world-class athlete at such a young age. This collection of Nadia’s memories, anecdotes, and advice grants unique insights into the mind of a top competitor.


Silent Gesture by Tommie Smith




At the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and his teammate John Carlos came in first and third in the 200-metre sprint. In this text, Smith explains why, as they received their medals, both men raised a black-gloved fist, creating an image that has symbolized the conflicts of race, politics, and sports.


Gold in the Water by P.H. Mullen Jr




In California, a team of talented young men begin pursuing the most elusive dream in sports: the Olympic Games. The pressure steadily increases as two best friends (a mentor and his protégé) reach the top of the world rankings and unexpectedly find themselves direct competitors. Their teammates include an emerging star methodically plotting to retrace his father’s path to Olympic glory, as well as a super-extraordinary athlete desperate to walk away from it all. Led by one of the most passionate coaches in sports, a brilliant and explosive strategist on a personal quest for redemption, this team of dark horses and Olympic favorites works through escalating rivalries, joyous triumphs, and heartbreaking setbacks.


My Life: Queen of the Court by Serena Williams




Williams’ 2009 autobiography covers everything from the start of her life, which involved her father setting his eyes on having his daughter become a tennis sensation early on, to multiple Olympic wins that made her career soar. Whether you’re a long time fan of the Olympics or Williams alone, this story is a must-read.


Heart of a Champion by Michelle Kwan




This autobiography presents the incredible California skater Michelle Kwan, who claimed the women’s World Champion crown for figure skating at the age of sixteen, profiling her as a role model for today’s young people and describing her hard work and personal achievements.