Surya Bonaly (b. 1973) is a French figure skater and Olympian often famous for her flips; she landed a backflip on one foot at the 1998 Winter Olympics – something never performed before in competition.

She was raised in Nice, France, and became a world champion in tumbling at 12, and said she was naturally gifted in sports – except those that involved catching a ball – and competed at a young age in diving, fencing, and equestrian.

Bonaly was the first woman to attempt a “quadruple” in skating, which is a jump that involves four revolutions/spins. She dominated the rink – and remained the European champion for five consecutive years and the French champion nine years in a row.  

She was also the three-time World silver medalist and 1991 World Junior Champion.

“I don't know why... a lot of people through my life said, 'No, you can't. Don't do that,'” she said. “Well, listen. I will.”

She retired in 1998 and eventually became a coach and spread the love of figure skating.

Learn more about Surya Bonaly:

Surya Bonaly on backflips, figure skating fashion, and discrimination

Former Olympian Surya Bonaly says don’t call her a rebel, call her fearless

Interview with RadioLab podcast

SURYA BONALY 1994 Olympics figure skating exhibition

Surya Bonaly TEDx Talk

Surya Bonaly on Wikipedia

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