The 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year has announced it Shortlist, which consists of seven titles:
- Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zatopek by Rick Broadbent (Wisden)
- Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
- Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)
- Chasing Shadows: The Life & Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant Books)
- Mr Darley’s Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life – A History of Racing in 25 Horsesby Christopher McGrath (John Murray)
- Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life by Diana Nyad (Macmillan)
- Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster)
The winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday 24 November 2016.
While six sports are covered in the seven-strong shortlist, the majority of titles dig deep into their subjects’ psyches to reveal the inner sportsman or sportswoman, showing how their strengths and weaknesses helped and hindered them in the pursuit of their dreams. This is demonstrated in two memoirs set mainly amongst the waves: Barbarian Days by journalist William Finnegan and Find a Way by swimmer Diana Nyad. The elegiac Barbarian Days, surfing’s first appearance in the Bookie Prize and already a Pulitzer Prize-winner, tells the story of a restless young man whose sport both anchors him and takes him around the world as he becomes an adult. Diana Nyad’s inspirational memoir is a testimony to the indomitability of the human spirit: a world class swimmer at a very young age, Nyad first attempted to swim the 100 miles between Havana, Cuba and the coast of Florida without a shark cage aged 28. She finally became the first person to complete the treacherous crossing over three decades later, aged 64.
Oliver Kay’s Forever Young investigates the short life of eccentric football prodigy Adrian Doherty, who was offered a five-year contract with Manchester United on his 17th birthday, yet died in mysterious circumstances having never realised his true potential. Controversial cricketer, writer and broadcaster Peter Roebuck, another figure who died before his time, has his unpredictable character and sudden death examined in Tim Lane and Elliott Cartledge’s Chasing Shadows.
Rick Broadbent receives his third shortlisting for the Prize for Endurance, which looks at the life of Olympic track legend Emil Zatopek. The greatest runner of his generation, Zátopek’s character was sorely tested as he fell from favour with his country’s Communist rulers, suffering countless indignities before coming in from the cold following Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution.
Rounding off this year’s shortlist: Rory Smith’s Mister, which looks at how English football managers helped the ‘beautiful game’ become the global sport it is today; and Christopher McGrath’s Mr Darley’s Arabian, which tells the story of horse racing by following the bloodline of twenty-five thoroughbreds, from a colt bought from Bedouin tribesmen over 300 years ago, to the modern champion, Frankel.