While most of the publishing industry was getting ready for the penultimate early weekend of the summer, Free Press announced that it had signed a deal with Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps to publish Built to Succeed, a memoir offering “the secrets of his success and… his approach to training, competition, and winning,” according to the announcement in Publishers Marketplace.

Considering this deal, and the news from across the Atlantic about possible book deals for British medalists, another potentially attractive possibility presented itself: What about a memoir by American marathoner Ryan Hall?

Hall had already gotten significant attention from the media, including Peter Hessler‘s New Yorker profile and Michael Perry‘s Runner’s World cover story. Enough of the runner’s personality comes through in both articles to suggest that he could tell his own story in an equally compelling manner if he chose to do so, and his pre-Olympic blog offers further evidence. The more you learn about Hall’s strong Christian faith and his participation in Team World Vision, an organization that helps poverty-stricken communities raise themselves to self-sustainability, it’s easy to see him writing a book that combines the best elements of Tony Dungy‘s Quiet Strength and John Woods‘s Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. Hall’s home page already had the perfect title, one with extra poignancy following his tenth-place finish: More Precious Than Gold. If you want to understand how powerful this story could be, watch the following video.

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