World champion famous Surya Bonaly was the only female figure skater in history to do a backflip, a move which had been banned from competitions since the 1970s.
Bonaly said that always going the extra mile is a rule she stuck by since she first began figure skating as a young child in France.
She had a strong work ethic and passion for skating. Being a woman of color in figure skating also formed part of her “motivation and determination to excel,” Bonaly said, in feeling like she had to “do more than OK to be accepted.”
Bonaly added that perseverance is crucial even for those with “natural talent,” particularly as someone who found she could easily pick up most sports as a child. At age 12 she was a world champion in the gymnastics discipline of tumbling.
She would practice her routines until she felt they were perfect. Having a “rock solid” routine, she argued, was the best way to avoid the fear of failure.
Bonaly is a three-time World Cup silver medalist, five-time champion of Europe and a nine-time champion of France.
Bonaly’s story actually featured in the Netflix series “Losers,” released earlier this year, which focused on athletes who had turned “agony of defeat into human triumph.”
“Sports, especially figure skating, kind of taught me how to get up and go (despite) falling … it’s all about keeping a positive attitude and trying and going back until you succeed,” said Bonaly.
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