Released: January 11, 2005
The vast majority of us can only dream of being an Olympic-level athlete - but we have no real idea of what that means. Here, for the first time, in all its shocking, funny and downright bizarre glory, is the truth of the Olympic experience.
It is an unimaginable world:
the kitting-out ceremony with its 35kg of team clothing per athletethe pre-Olympic holding camp with its practical jokes, resentment and fighting, and freaky physiological regimesthe politicians' visits with their flirty spousesthe vast range of athletes with their odd body shapes and freakish geneticsthe release post-competion in the Olympic village with all the excessive drinking, eating, partying and sex (not necessarily in that order)the hysteria of homecoming celebrations and the comedown that follows - how do you adjust to life after the Games?
The Secret Olympian talks to scores of Olympic athletes - past and present, from Munich 1960 right through to London 2012, including British, American, Australian, Dutch, French, Croatian, German, Canadian and Italian competitors. They all have a tale to tell - and most of those tales would make your eyes pop more than an Olympic weightlifter's.
During the Olympics I heard this book mentioned, so I figured I would give it a try. It describes the Olympics seen through the eyes of an Olympic athlete, from the point where they get told they are competing, to the point where they are done competing and don’t know what to do with the rest of their lives. It’s based on the personal experiences of the author, as well as on interviews with other Olympians. The story is told well, and general Olympic history and trivia is interjected at appropriate places. There’s a good combination of interesting technical details relating to athletes and Olympic behind-the-scenes stuff, as well as plenty of personal emotions and anecdotes. The sum total becomes a read which is at times really interesting, at times rather emotional, and overall rather enjoyable. The main problem with the book is that it seems to have been marketed as a tell-all tabloid tale of sex and scandals. That’s not what it is, and thank God for that.