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The Secret Olympian: The inside story of the Olympic experience [Kindle Edition]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 athlete
  • the pre-Olympic holding camp with its practical jokes, resentment and fighting, and freaky physiological regimes
  • the politicians' visits with their flirty spouses
  • the vast range of athletes with their odd body shapes and freakish genetics
  • the 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.

Product Description


Wonderful ... an Olympic-standard writer (Financial Times)

An irresistible proposition ... an insight into the life and mindset of a professional athlete. Anon shows us something more real: the myths, absurdity, frailty and futility that are the constant companions of the all or nothing, four yearly bid for sporting immortality (Guardian)

An interesting, insightful examination of the experience of being an Olympic athlete (Independent on Sunday)

A first-hand expose of the Olympic experience written in an enjoyable easygoing style (Sport)

A well written, thoughtful and constantly illuminating look at what it's like to take part in the Olympic Games (Daily Mail)

The beauty of this book is not in trying to unmask the writer but in becoming immersed in a journey usually taken by the privileged, and exceptional, few ... It's uplifting, sobering and often surreal (Evening Standard)

Reveals just how much fun goes on in the Games (Independent)

Compelling ... If you want to know what it's truly like to be an Olympic athlete, there has probably never been a better explanation (Sunday Express)

Book Description

The Secret Olympian exposes the truth of what goes on at the Olympic Games. Shocking, funny and slightly tongue in cheek, a former Olympian reveals the world of the Olympic athlete - and, behind the scenes, what a bizarre world it is....

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2644 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: A&C Black; 1 edition (10 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0085LUBLY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #150,679 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars where are the secrets ??? 28 July 2012
This book is a light and easy read, which I enjoyed. But I can't say I found any great revelations. I don't think too many readers would be the slightest bit surprised by anything in this book - indeed most of the contents are what most readers would assume.

Yes of course it is difficult to be selected for Team GB. (Does anyone like the label Team GB, although that isn't the fault of the author?) Yes there is a lot of GB kit handed out. Yes the run-up to the events is stressful for the athletes. Yes the atmosphere in the Olympic village changes - it is clear to anyone that 95% of the athletes have no realistic prospect of obtaining a medal and once your event is over there is nothing to do but support others and party. And yes of course the greatest fuss is made of those who win gold, or at least some medal.

The most interesting and thoughtful part of the book comes at the end, when discussing the post-Olympic blues (my description, not the author's) and the difficulty of deciding whether to retire. A person has to be unbalanced to a degree to have the necessary committment to be an Olympic athlete. I would have liked to read more on this complex topic, and how athletes cope post-Olympics.

I have not researched who is the author - it may be widely known - but there is nothing in the book which compels this to be a secret in any way. I suspect the secrecy is just part of the marketing hype, which irritates somewhat. I would like to know the sport of the author, to understand what may be bias in place, and I see no reason for the sport not to be revealed.

Based on some minor clues my guess is the author was a rower or sculler. But there are some indications to the contrary which I suspect are deliberate to put readers like me off the scent. My guess of a rower could be wildly out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not sure why this book's author wanted to remain anonymous. Perhaps he's a particularly shy individual. Perhaps he felt it would threaten his future career. Perhaps it was a marketing ploy. But it certainly can't have been because of any shocking revelations or accusations made in the book, because there simply aren't any. And, actually, the associated coyness around mentioning the sport in which he competes makes this book lack a little something. The anonymity is a shame.

That said, it does give a great insight into the life and psyche of an Olympian, much of it backed up by descriptions from named competitors. He describes sometimes a crippling doubt about sporting ability that apparently affects most Olympians; the challenge of a whole career resting on a performance lasting just minutes or seconds; the extraordinary commitment needed to reach the top in a given sport.

The Secret Olympian also gives a compelling description of how National Lottery funding has transformed professional sport in the UK, and peppers the early part of the book with the interesting descriptions of how Olympians found their sport.

There is, as one would expect, detailed descriptions of the seemingly absurd excesses of life as an Olympian: the masses of free kit, the gallons of free Powerade, the inside-story (also well-described elsewhere) of life inside the Olympic village. Though, clearly, this book can't give the inside-track on London 2012, as it was written well before that got underway.

Still, it's a worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of hype, little substance 27 Sept. 2012
By TheMuir
I decided to purchase this book after hearing the 'Secret Olympian' on 5 Live prior to the 2012 games.

It promises much, but I am afraid it left me cold. Possible its best feature is that in being only 214 pages it doesn't take long to get through! All the promise of major revelations, etc just don't materialise in the book. Quotes focus on perhaps 10 former Olympians (of varying levels of ability and fame). The insight into the Olympic Village was dull.

On the plus point the book gives a decent overview of what Olympians put themselves through to reach the pinnacle of their sport and I found that part of the book interesting.

But if you are hoping for sordid tales, blockbuster revelations, intrigue and gossip - you'll be deeply disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Aeint what did you dooo?" 26 May 2013
"For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting." - Gen. George C. Patton

"'Aeint what did you dooo?' she asks politely, not looking that interested." - Anon in THE SECRET OLYMPIAN, quoting Queen Elizabeth's question to him during Her Majesty's post-Games audience with Team Great Britain

THE SECRET OLYMPIAN, written anonymously by a male member of Great Britain's national team in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, is a comprehensive account of what it's like to compete in the Games based on his own experience and that of many other former and current Olympians. Anon was, evidently, one of the runners in the track and field category. He didn't win a medal.

Anon takes the reader the full gamut of the Olympic experience from selection for the national team to the homecoming and ultimately de rigueur post-competition deflation. The author leaves no subject unaddressed, even if only superficially, and includes: in-country arrival, the Olympic village, the opening ceremonies, food, freebies, doping scandals, parties, sponsorships, skill practice, maintaining mental motivation, pre-event angst, event performance, uniform bartering for souvenirs, the closing ceremonies, the welcome home to a grateful nation, and much more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty to read, but I felt it needed selective refining.
The author has plenty to say about his subject, with some interesting snippets on the world of sport and the Olympics, revealing that although money is a dominant driving force in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by para3drop
4.0 out of 5 stars No need for the secrecy
Not entirely sure why this Olympian wanted to remain secret, it’s hardly as though he’s a whistleblower or purveyor or juicy gossip. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sport Nut
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 months ago by N. Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars A peek inside the mind of the pro-athlete
Subtitled 'the inside story of the Olympic experience' and anonymously written, this reveals the good, the bad and the ugly about the relentless and single-minded focus required to... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Kym Hamer
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight
There is so much hype regarding the Olympic Games and so little known about what it takes to be selected to be there for your country. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Stephen Sowerby
5.0 out of 5 stars Still can't work out who it is!
Very interesting insight to the the side of the Olympics we don't see. The sheer grit and detemination needed to reach the goal.
Published 18 months ago by Mrs Mary Tozer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
This book was a very interesting read. Quite the eye opener! You will specially like it if you into sports.
Published 21 months ago by N.+J.
4.0 out of 5 stars Back of house
This book is for anyone who has wondered what else happens at the Olympics. I really enjoyed a human perspective of what it was like in and around the games v for an athlete that... Read more
Published on 17 Jan. 2013 by Robert Owen Mace
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read with interesting thoughts to take away
This is a decent read and not at all heavy. However, there are insights into elite sport that can be applied to elite just about anything that give it an extra star in my book.
Published on 17 Jan. 2013 by Phillip J Apel
1.0 out of 5 stars Tediously superficial
When I bought this, I was after a light-hearted read and thus adjusted my expectations accordingly. Sadly, this book made the back of a cereal packet sound more in-depth. Read more
Published on 2 Nov. 2012 by L.B.
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