Surya Bonaly (born December 15, 1973) is a French-American former figure skater who competed for France. She is a three-time World silver medalist (1993–1995), a five-time European champion (1991–1995), the 1991 World Junior Champion, and a nine-time French national champion (1989–1997).
Bonaly was born in Nice, France on December 15, 1973. Initially named Claudine, she was adopted at 18 months old by Suzanne and Georges Bonaly, who gave her the name Surya. Suzanne worked as a physical education teacher and Georges as an architect for the government. The couple initially told the media that their daughter had been born on the island of Réunion because they thought this origin sounded more “exotic”. When Surya approached the age of 18 and began researching her birth history, her parents admitted that Surya’s biological mother had been from the island but that Surya herself had not been born there. Didier Gailhaguet, who was Bonaly’s first coach of her competitive career, admitted fabricating the story because he thought it would interest the press.
Bonaly was originally a competitive gymnast. She began skating in 1985 in Nice before relocating to Paris. Early reports said that Gailhaguet discovered Bonaly at a public session, but years later, she said she had wanted to skate in Gailhaguet’s competitive skating group and actually asked to participate.
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