Two-time Olympic ice skater Meryl Davis has made a name for herself across the world as being one of the best in her sport. However, what most people don’t know about Davis is that she also has dyslexia. This learning disability has drastically affected her confidence, although you would never be able to tell watching her perform. Ice skating has always been an escape for Davis- a place where she isn’t defined by her dyslexia.

Now 30, Davis started her skating career at the age of 5 on a small patch of ice on a small lake in the suburbs of Detroit where she grew up. 18 years later, she competed in her first Olympic Games with long-time partner, Charlie White. They won silver at the 2010 winter games and competed again in the 2014 games. During these games, Davis and White achieved a nearly perfect score in ice dancing, giving the gold medal to the United States for the first time ever in history.

Despite her success, Davis has struggled with her self-image because of her dyslexia ever since she was diagnosed in the third grade. She had problems reading all throughout her schooling, and says that her dyslexia causes her to take a long time to decode what she reads. Due to this, she had to find different ways to study and complete her work, staying up into the late hours of the night with her parents by her side. Although perpetually frustrated by school, everything changed when Davis hit the ice. She became confident and graceful, but her dyslexia didn’t totally disappear. She admits that her dyslexia has affected her ability to process choreography and presents her with a consistent fear of being unprepared and not good enough. Throughout the years, she has gained her confidence and knows everything she is capable of- even winning the 18th season of Dancing with the Stars!

Davis currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is studying cultural anthropology and Italian at the University of Michigan.

Watch Meryl Davis talk about her life with dyslexia in this TEDx Talk. Also, explore more dyslexic athletes here.

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