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Tough Girl: An Olympian's Journey ISBN: 978-0-9977828-0-6
Carolyn Wood, author
In 1960 fourteen-year-old Portlander, Carolyn Wood, won an Olympic gold medal in Rome in swimming. Her memoir, Tough Girl: An Olympian’s Journey, tells her story of learning to swim, compete and ultimately train at the highest levels, as she negotiated the social norms of adolescence while hiding her sexual identity. Fifty-two years later, at the end of a long relationship and marriage, she looks back to find the toughness of childhood and discovers the more mature strength of adulthood as she solo hikes along the Camino de Santiago. Forty days alone allow emotions and memories to arise and dissipate, illuminating events from the past. This memoir provides an insider’s view of swim training and age group competition in the late 1950s and of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome woven together with a participant’s view of walking the Camino de Santiago. Within these stories lie details of growing up in mid-century Portland, of being a closeted athlete, of coming out and fighting for Gay Rights, of coping with grief. It is a story of youthful dreams and exuberance, of struggle and loss, as well as a celebration of the wisdom that comes with age and practice.