Sports book review: Books of the year
In the wake of many successful sporting events, publishers are often guilty of rushing out books which ordinarily may not have seen the light of day. As we complete the second half of our sports book review of 2012, however, honourable mentions are due to three Olympians whose autobiographies were far from bland, money-making opportunities.
Unbelievable by Jessica Ennis helped us relive one night in particular, August 4, 2012, quite possibly the greatest day in British sport, while Victoria Pendleton’s Between The Lines is a searingly honest memoir where nothing is deemed to be off limits. Bradley Wiggins’s My Time is what you would expect – a modest guy’s explanation of how he became a sporting superstar.
Aside from this trio, Steve James’s The Plan explained the reasons behind England’s cricketing success with an easy, flowing style, while Ed Smith’s Luck proved an excellent, thought-provoking book.
Our top five, however, are as follows:
Running with the Kenyans follows Adharanand Finn’s quest to unearth the secrets of Kenyan athletic prowess while improving his own running performance. Setting both pursuits against a backdrop where life changes dramatically for the Finn family makes for a compelling memoir.
Phil Hewitt is an ambitious runner, a man who, having accumulated a steady supply of life’s responsibilities (mortgage, work, family life etc) found his thoughts became increasingly focused on running, “an unspoken longing for that rush of energy you’re supposed to get as you hammer out the miles.” Hewitt’s Keep On Running is an account of self-motivation on an heroic scale.
Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle co-authored The Secret Race, a comprehensive revelation of what had been going on behind the scenes at many professional cycling teams for decades. Hamilton reveals where the drugs came from, how cyclists injected them, how they disposed of used syringes and the discomfort they felt when the sun tanned their arms and exposed their needle scars.
The Secret Race draws the curtain back on cycling’s cheating and corruption with admirable ferocity.
William Fotheringham has produced another outstanding cycling biography, Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike, which could easily have been another statistical reminder of Merckx’s greatness, but while the records are remarkable, Fotheringham chooses to add another dimension by investigating the Belgian’s ultra- competitiveness: his “absolute fury to win”.
Our top sports book, however, is the recently published Running My Life by Seb Coe, probably the best-written sports autobiography of the past decade, a fantastic story of a serial over-achiever which manages to engage the reader on every page. Ultimately, Lord Coe declares that he’s “not ready to slow down yet,” something for which we should all be thankful.
We’ve teamed up with Sports Book of the Month to offer the ultimate Christmas prize – all five of our top sports books of the year.
To win this week’s fantastic prize, go to their website (www.sportsbookofthemonth.com) and answer the following question:
For which consistency was Sebastian Coe an MP?