A Few Defining Stories from Olympic Games’ History

As the Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad) rapidly approaches from Tokyo, Japan, we’re looking back on historic and defining moments throughout Olympics history — stories of hope, perseverance, bravery, and strength. The Summer Olympics begin July 23rd!


All of the titles featured here in this booklist we have in our collection or are available via SWAN! To see if an item is available to check out or to place a hold, click on the cover image or button to the right of the description.

Chariots of Fire


In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian born to Scottish missionaries in China, sees running as part of his worship of God’s glory and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) overcomes anti-Semitism and class bias, but neglects his beloved sweetheart Sybil (Alice Krige) in his quest.



This excellent bio-drama based on true events focuses on legendary black athlete Jesse Owens and his inspiring journey to overcome racism at home and abroad, culminating in his triumphant track-and-field performance at the 1936 Berlin

The Best of Men


The story of one remarkable doctor as he transforms the standards of care for paraplegics. Arriving at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1944, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann reinvigorates the lives of his staff and patients : he introduces athletics into the rehabilitation plan of his patients, paralyzed soldiers who have been cast-off and are facing death from neglect. Using sports, his patients learn to build not only physical strength, but self-respect and a sense of fulfillment. Dr. Guttmann established the Stoke Mandeville Games, the sporting event for the disabled that evolved into the Paralympic Games.

Triumph: the untold story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics

Book by Jeremy Schaap

In 1936, against a backdrop of swastikas flying & storm troopers an African-American son of sharecroppers won a staggering four Olympic gold medals and single-handedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy. The story of Jesse Owens at the 1936 games is that of a high-profile athlete giving a performance that transcends sports. But it is also the intimate and complex tale of the courage of one remarkable man.

The boys in the boat: nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Book by Daniel James Brown

Traces the amazing story of the rowing team that defeated elite rivals at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics, sharing the experiences of their enigmatic coach, a visionary boat builder, and a homeless teen rower.

Fire on the track: Betty Robinson and the triumph of the early Olympic women

Book by Roseanne Montillo

The inspiring and irresistible true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic Gold.

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