Sports-Former U.S. athlete Fleshman wins sports book of the year prize

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - Samsung Diamond League 2011 - Aviva London Grand Prix - Crystal Palace, London - 6/8/11 USA's Lauren Fleshman celebrates winning the women's 5000m Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Peter Cziborra

LONDON (Reuters) - Former U.S. distance runner Lauren Fleshman's "Good for a Girl: My Life Running in a Man’s World" was crowned winner of the 2023 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award on Thursday, earning her 30,000 pounds ($37,920) and a huge publicity boost.

Fleshman, perennially successful in the U.S. where she was twice the national 5,000m champion, raced in three world championships but missed out on the Olympics. She went on to have a successful coaching and punditry career.

The book, part-memoir, part-manifesto, tells the story of her development, her battles against injury and her fight for better treatment for female athletes both at junior and professional level.

In the 35-year history of the award it is the first women’s memoir to receive the prize and was one of four female-written books on the six-book shortlist.

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.

“Having a woman being elevated for telling her own story is rare, and we need a lot more of that," Fleshman said after receiving the award in London.

"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.”

Alyson Rudd, chair of the judging panel said: "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."

($1 = 0.7911 pounds)

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis)

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