- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Rodale (June 5, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1623365244
- ISBN-13: 978-1623365240
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Golden Girl Paperback – June 5, 2014
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From Publishers Weekly
This story of professional swimmer and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin personalizes an athlete's strife on her way to the top, her fight against those predicting her fall and her internal struggles against illness, injury and the pressures of the sport. Perhaps "the most talented woman swimmer of her generation," Coughlin found herself facing questions from the press like, "How does it feel to dishonor your country?" following her harsh defeat in the 2003 FINA World Championship preliminaries-brought on by illness-that immediately preceded her Olympic victory. Tracking her progress from college on, the book has a scenic, nonlinear organization that makes it a bit confusing, but includes fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of Coughlin's coach Teri McKeever, her competition, her actor/football player father and his twin, and the training strategies involved in making a world-class athlete. Rich in detail, this a dramatic and humanizing portrait of an iconic American athlete.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
MICHAEL SILVER, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, is a highly respected sportswriter and coauthor of several bestselling sports memoirs. He lives in Northern California.
NATALIE COUGHLIN has built a reputation as the most versatile, dominant swimmer in the world. Seizing five medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens--two gold, two silver, and one bronze--Natalie's performance is considered the best in Olympic history by any American woman.
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Natalie becomes a supporting character in what is supposed to be her book, with the notable exceptions of when Silver expresses a somewhat creepy fascination for her (whenever they meet for lattes), or when he's explaining why Natalie is ALWAYS right: Natalie chooses a school her parents don't like: she's right; Natalie feels she was over trained at Terrapins: she's right; Natalie blows up at McKeever over swimming the 200 back; she's right. Natalie breaks the rules and physically strikes out at her teammates during a training exercise: she's right; Natalie nearly gets the team disqualified because of a superstition: she's right. I dare say that if Natalie committed a felony, Silver would detail why she was right.
So therein is the problem: the book doesn't focus on Natalie nearly enough, and when it does, it's so worshipful of everything she does it's off-putting. As a reader, I felt I was drowning in her superiority.
I regret reading Golden Girl because the things I like about Natalie - she is eco-conscious, she participated in "Project Believe" (an anti-doping initiative), she competed on Dancing with the Stars - are now overshadowed by Silver's smug portrayal of her. If you are and want to remain a fan of Natalie, I would recommend her twitter feed and facebook posts before I would recommend this book.
However, the book was falsely billed, perhaps in an effort to boost sales, as a Natalie Coughlin biography. What it really was about was the Cal swimming program and Coach Teri Keever -- a topic that is well worth the ink, but it's not what buyers of the book were led to expect. A true Natalie Coughlin biography would have included interviews from her parents, siblings, boyfriend and former coaches. There were some quotes from her teammates, but even those were too few. It would have been nice to have more on-the-scene reporting from practices and meets rather than after-the-fact summaries.
On the plus side, Mr. Silver covered the important issue of overtraining in young swimmers, as well as pressures for young female swimmers to stay thin. He shows why so many swimmers burn out by the time they get to college, and discusses some alternative training methods that are yielding great success.
I wish that he or someone would write a more ambitious book about the world of elite competitive swimming. It's a great sport, and there is much more to be said. Whether the book is about an Olympian, a successful and inspiring coach such as Ms. Keever, or about training techniques, bring it on. I would like to read a book that takes a deeper dive into one of these topics.
Most recent customer reviews
And given that Natalie swam for the Cal Bears, the
coach and her program had to get a lot of story time.Read more