Michael Johnson enjoys the Bounce effect with Gold Rush in running for Bookie prize

After the success of Bounce, the thesis on what makes a champion that won Matthew Syed the best new writer prize at this year’s British Sports Book Awards, another slice of analysis is in the running for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.

This time it comes from Michael Johnson, four-times Olympic champion turned commentator and motivational speaker, who has interviewed the collective winners of more than 50 Olympic gold medals in his search for the factors that set winning athletes apart from others.

Gold Rush, which draws on 400-metre star Johnson’s own career and on interviews with Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Seb Coe, Ian Thorpe, Steve Redgrave and Michael Jordan among others, is on a longlist of 14 for the award dubbed the ‘Bookie Prize’, which has a cash prize of £23,000, making it the richest award of its type in the world.

Competition for Johnson includes cyclist David Millar, for his autobiography Racing Through the Dark, and award-winning sportswriter Patrick Collins, whose Among the Fans, based on a year spent observing a range of different sports and their supporters, is a first offering from the new imprint, Wisden Sports Writing.

Other notable contenders include  A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng, which tells the tragic story of German national goalkeeper Robert Enke, who took his own life at just 32 years of age.

"Get in There!", the biography of the great England centre forward Tommy Lawton, co-written by his son, Tommy junior, with former Nottingham Evening Post editor Barrie Williams, joins Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius, among a strong football representation, and there is a place too for Babysitting George, journalist Celia Walden‘s recollection of an unusual professional relationship with George Best.

Journalist Bella Bathurst’s wide-ranging The Bicycle Book is a more left-field choice, as is Into The Arena, Alexander Fiske-Harrison’s portrait of bullfighting in Spain.

Congratulations are due to Bill Jones, whose biography of 'Ghost Runner' John Tarrant, the athlete who would gatecrash major road races after he was banned for professionalism, is deservedly on the list, and to Dave Roberts, a supporter of The Sports Bookshelf, after his 32 Programmes, about the survivors of the football programme cull he had to undertake when he and his wife upped sticks to move to America, was also chosen.

The longlist In Full:

Carlo Ancelotti: The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius by Carlo Ancelotti with Alessandro Alciato (Rizzoli International Publications)

The Bicycle Book by Bella Bathurst (HarperPress)

Among the Fans: From Ashes to Arrows, a Year of Watching the Watchers by Patrick Collins (Wisden Sports Writing)

Into The Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight by Alexander Fiske-Harrison (Profile Books)

Gold Rush: What Makes an Olympic Champion? by Michael Johnson (HarperSport)

The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop
by Bill Jones (Mainstream Publishing)

Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar by David Millar (Orion)

The Smell of Football by Mick Rathbone (Vision Sports Publishing)

A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng (Yellow Jersey Press)

32 Programmesby Dave Roberts (Bantam Press)

The Following Game by Jonathan Smith (Peridot Press)

Babysitting George by Celia Walden (Bloomsbury)

"Get in There!": Tommy Lawton - My Friend, My Father by Barrie Williams and Tommy Lawton Junior (Vision Sports Publishing)

Behind the Boundary: Cricket at a Crossroads by Graeme Wright (A & C Black)

The judging panel for this year's award consists of broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; broadcaster Danny Kelly; and columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.

The shortlist will be announced on October 28th and the winner will be revealed at a lunchtime reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookstore, on November 28th.



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