Ex-professional runner Lauren Fleshman is crowned the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award winner 2023, taking home a £30,000 cash prize; in the award’s 35-year history, ‘Good For A Girl’ marks the first women’s memoir to receive the prize…
Lauren Fleshman’s book ‘Good for a Girl: My Life Running in a Man’s World’ has been crowned the 2023 winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.
Fleshman picked up a prize of £30,000 at an official ceremony on Thursday at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, in London.
The announcement makes history as it is the first book about women in sport, authored by a woman, to receive the world’s most prestigious sports writing prize.
The US champion’s part memoir, part manifesto documents Fleshman’s story of falling in love with running as a girl, battling devastating injuries and self-doubt, and daring to fight for a better way for female athletes.
Drawing not only on her own story, but also on emerging research on the physiology and psychology of young athletes, Fleshman gives voice to the often-silent experience of the female athlete and argues that the time has come to rebuild our systems of competitive sport to allow women to perform at their best.
A panel of independent judges from the world of sports and journalism, chaired by author and journalist, Alyson Rudd, undertook a rigorous judging process, reviewing more than 150 entries down to the winning book.
The Judges praised ‘Good for a Girl’ for its “heartfelt narrative” and “compelling writing”, as well as its crucial advocacy for reform in sports for young women.
Renowned sports broadcaster, Matt Williams, declared Fleshman’s book “not just one of the best sports books that I’ve read this year, but one of the best books full stop.”
Receiving the trophy and a £30,000 cash prize, Fleshman said: “Having a woman being elevated for telling her own story is rare, and we need a lot more of that. That’s why awards like this are so important. I came here optimistic, but then convinced myself I had no chance when I looked at the shortlist.
“I am delighted to be the winner of this prestigious award. I hope it makes sport better for the future of women and girls.”
Rudd, chair of the judging panel, said: “We had such an exceptionally high-quality shortlist this year, and selecting a winner was no small feat.
“For the first time, women’s books dominated, showing that more women are being commissioned to tell their stories, with many bravely tackling challenges within the sporting world.
“‘Good for a Girl’ is not only a must-read book on the challenges that women face in sport but a moving and informative memoir that will grip those who are not athletics fans.
“Lauren Fleshman exposes and shatters myths with disarming honesty and exceptional writing – it is a wonderful read and thoroughly deserving of the title.”
The New York Times Bestseller, and now William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award winner, highlights the challenges women face in competitive running, exposing the flaws in the sports structure that are failing young women as much as empowering them.
Through her drive for change, Fleshman confronts the misogynistic origins of sports, and even her sponsors, and addresses the concerning decline in girls’ participation once they hit puberty.
The narrative also explores the struggles faced by female collegiate athletes, such as injuries, eating disorders and mental health issues.
The five authors on the shortlist, alongside Fleshman, receive £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book. They are:
- Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson, by Sally H. Jacobs
- Concussed: Sport’s Uncomfortable Truth, by Sam Peters
- Kick The Latch, by Kathryn Scanlan
- Unbreakable, by Ronnie O’Sullivan
- Unfair Play: The Battle for Women’s Sport, by Sharron Davies with Craig Lord
Having secured the 35th winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, Fleshman joins an impressive list of previous winners, including last year’s champion Jeremy Wilson.
For the second consecutive year, a book centred on women’s sports clinches the award. Fleshman becomes the third woman to be awarded the prestigious prize, joining former winners Anna Krien and Laura Hillenbrand.
The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award first took place in 1989 and is now the longest-established competition in the industry. It is dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing and is the world’s most prestigious award in the sector.
Entry to the 36th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is now open.
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