Not all victories result in a medal. Indeed, at times we forget that in sport the most important award is shared values, such as a passion for a given discipline, the responsibility of daily commitment and fair play among athletes.
For us, the athlete who has won against the discrimination and prejudice that should never be part of the world of sport is Surya Bonaly, a French-American ice skater who never won an Olympic medal or World Championship gold due partly to criticisms of her acrobatic choreography, considered by the judges detrimental to her artistic interpretation, and partly because of her black skin.
How is it possible that one of the best ice skaters in history never won an Olympic medal or a World Championship gold?
Surya was born at Nice in 1973 and learned to ice skate from her adoptive mother, who for a long time was also her trainer. Her showpieces were acrobatics and contortionism, which were always criticised because they made her different from other athletes who displayed a more classical style.
This was due to the fact that Surya began competitive ice skating in the 1980s, a period in which those who starred in national and international competitions were known as ‘ice princesses’, with physiques and athleticism that were very different from those of a black athlete.
GETTING HER OWN BACK
Surya became famous for redeeming her position during the International Skating Union (ISU) competition in which she included a backflip in her performance, becoming the only athlete, males included, to do so landing on one foot.
From then on, her skills could not be questioned and Bonaly went on to become French champion from 1989 to 1997 and European champion for five consecutive editions from 1991 to 1995. However, in spite of these victories, she never won the ISU World Championships or the Olympics.
At the end of her professional career, after the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, she moved to America, where she performed in the Champions on Ice skating show.
HER STORY ON NETFLIX
Netflix has been instrumental in keeping alive in the public’s heart the commitment and difficulties experienced by Surya Bonaly, telling the ice skater’s story in the Judgement episode of Losers.
This docu-series, which came out in 2019, narrates the stories of eight athletes who transformed the agony of defeat into human triumph.
Stories that must be remembered and celebrated as they deserve: we suggest doing it with a toast, perhaps with friends, watching the series that tells the stories of these extraordinary athletes.
The right wine? Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut Nature by Serena 1881, decisive, but also fragrant and harmonious. Like the smooth movement of a figure skater.