Anyika Onuora’s story of racism and sexual violence in athletics is among our top choices when it comes to reading material at the end of 2022
Anyika Onuora’s autobiography is such a powerful read that it is no surprise it was shortlisted for the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.
The retired sprinter recounts her ordeal with sexual violence, racism and attempted suicide during a track career that saw her win relay medals at the Olympics, world and European championships and Commonwealth Games.
My Hidden Race talks about the “brutal reality” of growing up on Merseyside in the 1990s. “Then there was stuff put through the letterbox,” says the 38-year-old. “We got robbed, the car got stolen and they basically put a firebomb in the car.”
In one terrifying incident in a hotel she had to fight off an athlete who tried to rape her. On another, she was physically assaulted by a physiotherapist.
Onuora considered suicide in 2012 and it was only when her room-mate, Perri Shakes-Drayton, accidentally interrupted her that she stopped short of trying to kill herself with scissors.
“I felt medals were the priority over mental health and wellbeing,” she remembers. “Nobody ever asked how I was. You were a cog in the wheel. I felt I had to go above and beyond and didn’t feel I had a chance to breathe.”
A sequel with a difference
First published in 2010, Born to Run became one of the most influential running books ever written, sparking huge interest in the “barefoot running” movement, exploring the secrets and remarkable endurance feats of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico.
Author Chris McDougall returns, in tandem with coach Eric Orton, with a sequel which draws on the experiences of those whose lives and running habits have been changed by the themes explored in that first book.
Its aim is to offer practical advice on everything from training to diet choices, footwear and running form. This will be of interest to anyone who enjoyed the original book.
» Born to Run 2 – the ultimate training guide is published by Souvenir Press for £19.99
Belgrave’s recent history
In 2006 Will Cockerell wrote the splendid 50 Greatest Marathons of All-time and has also written a number of times for AW over the years. Now he’s back with a book about his own athletics club’s recent exploits in distance running.
In Millennium Odyssey – a…