Going for Gold: Olympic-Inspired Books and Film


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

It’s been four years since the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, and now the world has travelled to Sochi, Russia for the games.

Regardless which flag you bear, which country you call home, which event you favour, or which athletes you cheer on—as a global community, the Olympics represents a healthy dose of sport, competition, and camaraderie.

But, we aren’t all raised to be Olympians. Nor can we all make it to the games as spectators. And with the diversified time zones, we certainly can’t always witness our favourite athletes winning gold in real-time.

We can, however, celebrate the spirit of the Olympics by also complementing it with Olympic-inspired books and film.

Here are a few of my recommended books and movies about the fierce and gracious experience of the Olympics we have all come to appreciate:

Unsinkable by Silken Laumann


Just ten weeks before the 1992 Olympic Games, Silken Laumann, the reigning world champion in single sculls rowing, suffered a brutal accident that left her right leg shattered and useless. Doctors doubted that she would ever row competitively again. But twenty-seven days, five operations and countless hours of gruelling rehabilitation later, Silken was back in her racing shell, ready to pursue her dream. When the starter’s pistol rang out on August 2, she made the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history, rowing to a bronze-medal finish while the world watched, captivated by her remarkable story. Silken became one of Canada’s most beloved Olympians and has continued to inspire, encouraging people to dream, live in the moment and embrace life’s unexpected, difficult, and  amazing journey .

But there was a massive barrier in her path that she has never before spoken about, a hidden story much darker than the tale of her accident. Now, Silken bravely shines a spotlight on all the obstacles she has encountered-and overcome-in Unsinkable, a memoir that reveals not only new insights into her athletic success and triumph over physical adversity, but also the intense personal challenges of her past and the fierce determination she applies to living a bold, loving and successful life today.

Time after time, this courageous champion has proven to be unsinkable. Silken’s extraordinary story offers us an intimate look at the complicated woman behind the Olympic hero, showing how perseverance and optimism can allow anyone to embrace the incredible opportunities that often go hand in hand with adversity.

– From Chapters-Indigo website


Gold by Chris Cleave


Gold is the story of two women, Zoe and Kate, world-class cyclists who have been friends and rivals since their first day of elite training years ago. They have loved, fought, betrayed, forgiven, lost, consoled, triumphed, and grown up together. Now, on the eve of London 2012, their last Olympics, the two must compete for the one remaining spot on their team. In doing so, the women will be tested to their physical, mental and emotional limits. They will confront each other and their own mortality, and be asked to decide: What will you sacrifice for the people you love?

– From Chapters-Indigo website


The Cutting Edge directed by Paul Michael Glaser, starring D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly

cutting edge

At the 1988 Winter Olympics at Calgary, we see Doug Dorsey battered in a vicious hockey game against West Germany. We then see Kate Moseley doing her program and falling when a lift goes bad. Both have fought all their life to get to the Olympics and suddenly the dream has been shattered. The movie then follows Kate, a temperamental but talented figure skater, through many partners until finally her coach resorts to recruiting a hockey player. Through the difficult training of 15 hours of skating a day they finally prepare for Nationals and the Olympics. A romance is budding and their final show could bend or break them as they try to achieve their dreams of an Olympic Gold medal.

– From IMDb website


Nadia directed by Alan Cooke, starring Marcia Frederick as Nadia Comanici


The true story about Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci from her childhood beginning as a gymnast and how she was discovered by Belya Karolyi. Nadia received seven perfect 10’s in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

– From IMDb website


What has been your favourite moment in the 2014 Sochi Olympics so far?

Have you read or seen any of the books/movies listed above? Which one is your favourite?

Do you know any other Olympic-inspired books or movies that aren’t on this list that you’d recommend?


zara cat stamp

2 thoughts on “Going for Gold: Olympic-Inspired Books and Film”

  1. A lot of bloggers have recommended The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown about the U.S. men’s rowing team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It looks good, but I haven’t read it! The ones you mention sound good, too. I’ve seen Cutting Edge; it was pretty unrealistic, but a nice romance!

    1. Hey, Laurie! Yes, I’ve heard of “The Boys in the Boat,” but haven’t read that one yet. And perhaps what I really enjoyed about “Cutting Edge” was that it was unrealistic! Romantic, too. Hope you continue to enjoy your blogging.

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