"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Book Review: Kelly Holmes: Black, White & Gold - My Autobiography

I have recently read Kelly Holmes’ autobiography; ‘another’ Olympic star (though not a recent one) to make the most of their publicity following their gold medal success. Having read a few of these types of autobiography I wanted to put pen to paper (or should not be fingers to key board?!) about my (extremely high) opinion of it.

The version I’ve read is a slightly updated one, which was released in 2006. When I bought the book I knew that Kelly had won two Olympic gold medals, but that was about it.

The book starts off nicely with her going to collect her MBE to whet the appetite, before cutting that part of her tale short and moving on to her childhood and the beginning of her story proper.

I’ll not delve in to the story too much, as I’m not looking to give a watered down version of her life. However, where most athletes spend very little time on their early years as it wasn’t really that interesting, with Kelly’s book it is different. She spends plenty of time discussing her former years, as well as her teenage and early twenties before she really got in to the ‘Olympic’ years.

When the book does move on to her Olympic training and path, there is some very hard hitting content – particularly around the injury plagued chunks of her career. You really do feel like you are getting an insight view of a psyche when, by her own admission, he athletic career hit rock bottom.

Again, I don’t want to go into the detail of it (although if you’ve seen her interview with Piers Morgan you’ll know the gist of it) but I really connected with what she was saying. Perhaps that was because I was injured when I was reading it, but I think even if I had been flying in terms of my personal running I would have still felt her anger/depression/disappointment.

It would be easy to gloss over these bits of her story, and not open herself up to the criticism she could have potentially faced, so I applaud her for going into the detail she did – this is partly what makes her book so good. There are no holds barred, and her lows are very low…

(For more on being injured read my guest post 'What runners do when they're injured' ).

The book finishes off by returning to her receiving her (fully deserved) MBE and listing all of her race results.

There is some fascinating stuff about what she has been through in life, and the course she took in becoming a double gold medal winning athlete. I would implore anyone who runs, or likes watching athletics, heck, anyone, to read this book… It really is fantasic!

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