1. Mark Spitz
Before there was Michael Phelps, there was Mark Spitz: he broke seven world records while winning seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, having reached the podium four times during the previous games. “Mark Spitz: The Extraordinary Life of an Olympic Champion” sees the swimmer at his finest, but also addresses the difficulties he had being a teammate and his misguided career choices out of the water.
Do you believe in miracles? “The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team” goes behind the scenes of “The Miracle on Ice.” Writing a quarter century after the famous upset over the USSR in Lake Placid, Wayne Coffey reveals the secret to the Americans success (see: Brooks, Herb) and follows the post-medal careers of members of the team.
The 1936 Olympics were supposed to be a crowning achievement for Adolf Hitler’s Germany. An Alabama-born track star had other ideas. Jeremy Schaap’s “Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics” peeks into the scene behind the games, explaining how Owens prevailed in four events and what impact his victories had on Germany, the United States and the rest of the world.
In one of the great all-time upsets, wrestler Rulon Gardner defeated three-time Olympic champion Alexander Karelin during the 2000 Games. Gardener’s autobiography, “Never Stop Pushing: My Life from a Wyoming Farm to the Olympic Medals Stand,” tracks the path of the Greco-Roman champion from his youth to his gold medal and beyond, including a snowmobile accident that left him stranded in the woods.
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