Study Guide

Olympics Books No Limits: The Will to Succeed

By Various Authors

No Limits: The Will to Succeed

Maybe Some Limits Would Be Better?

When you think about your typical sports memoir, you tend to think in terms of stereotypes. Does the book say somewhere "overcame all obstacles?" How about "against all odds?"

Well, we're happy to inform you that Michael Phelps' No Limits exceeds expectations within this genre. In fact, this book could really be titled "No Limits: How Many Sports Clichés Can Fit into One Book."

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Clichés are clichés for a reason, after all.

If anyone deserves the right to write a truism-filled book, it's Michael Phelps. He's gone down in history as the first person to ever win eight—eight—gold medals in one Olympics, beating the legendary Mark Spitz's record by one impressive award. That's not an easy feat to accomplish, and his book provides a first-hand account of all the sacrifices and hard work that went into becoming one of the greatest swimmers of all time.

Even though many athletes have overcome far worse ordeals (check out Running For My Life, for example) to be fair, it's not like the medals were handed to him. He struggled as a kid with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), and then went through some very normal—though devastating to an athlete with Olympic aspirations—teenage mistakes that, because of who he was, were broadcast on a national stage.

In a state of mind that was "not clear" he punched a wall and broke his hand during training…which threatened to derail his whole plan. (You kind of need your hands to swim, after all.)

After the Athens games, he stupidly thought it'd be okay to drive some buddies to get food after he'd had a few beers, and was arrested for DUI. He learned the hard way at the age of nineteen how to live alone (wait… you have to buy dishes? change batteries in the smoke alarms?). And the whole time, his greatest supporters—his mom, his sisters, and his coach Bob Bowman—were there for him, through thick and thin.

Written in a conversational tone that makes the pages fly by almost as fast as a Michael Phelps 100 meter butterfly, No Limits traces his beginnings as a young kid with big dreams, to setting a World Record at the age of fifteen, to the Olympics that earned him celebrity status, and then becoming the world's most decorated Olympic athlete.

Sure, it's filled with platitudes, but as we said earlier, the most decorated Olympian ever has totally earned it.