Sports Legends: 50 Inspiring People To Help You Reach The Top Of Your Game by Rick Broadbent

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

The Blurb

Get inspired to reach the top of your game with 50 incredible true stories of sporting legends.
Award-winning journalist Rick Broadbent has interviewed some of the greatest sporting legends of our time. In this gripping collection of 50 true stories, he shares the most exciting and jaw-dropping accounts of success, failure, injury and bravery in sport, which will in turn inspire kids to find the confidence and resilience they need to reach the top of their game. An ideal book for any young sports fan who enjoys reading about their favourite heroes, such as Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt and Serena Williams.

The Review

Whether it’s facing your fears, overcoming failure or building confidence, Rick has met sports legends who have conquered them all and them some.

Split into six sections, this is great to dip in and out of to help overcome different challenges children may face in life. From overcoming serious injuries, battling on when it seemed all hope was lost, learning from mistakes, standing up and being themselves, and even escaping a war-torn country, the stories Rick has chosen to highlight are all inspirational, as well as being utterly riveting. Whether you are a sports fan or not, there is something for everyone to take away from this fantastic book.

Perfect for PSHE lessons and assemblies investigating character traits, it has been given a huge thumbs up from the children in Year 5 who have already read it for pleasure:

  • It’s so exciting. I loved reading the different stories about the challenges the sports stars have overcome.
  • I learned so much about different sports people and how I can learn from my mistakes
  • Everyone should read this whether they like sports or not.
  • The stories are inspirational. Bayan Mahmud shows us that whatever life throws at us we just have to keep reaching for our dreams.

The Guest Post by Rick Broadbent

I have been lucky in my job as a journalist for The Times and author to watch, meet and interview some of the greatest sports stars in the world. It has been fun, dramatic and emotional, but the one thing I have learnt along the way is that they are ordinary people who just happen to do extraordinary things. That’s why I wanted to write a book for children which has turned into Sports Legends – 50 inspiring people to help you reach the top of your game. Yes, I wanted to tell these stories for the sheer drama and fantastic plots, but also to show what the legends can teach us. So as well as writing about the thrill of watching people like Usain Bolt, Serena Williams, Lionel Messi, Jonny Wilkinson, Simone Biles, Anthony Joshua and others – I wanted to show what they had overcome.

I split the book into sections – overcoming failure, facing fear, building confidence and a growth mindset, daring to be different and never giving up. A trait that many of the legends shared is that they used “failure” as a positive thing. One person I write about is Derek Redmond. He was running in the most important race of his life at the 1992 Olympic Games. As he lined up for the 400 metres, he was in the shape of his life, but a few seconds after the gun had sounded he felt his hamstring snap and he plunged to the track. In tears, in pain and in disbelief, he knew his dream had gone at that moment. It was four years to the next Olympics and his one golden chance had gone. What happened next was remarkable.

Derek got up and started hobbling. His father broke through the security cordon and helped him. The other runners had already finished by now. Derek could have given up, but something drove him to carry on. The crowd in Barcelona stood as one and the roars for the man who finished a distant last were far louder than the ones for the winner.

When I interviewed him years later, he told me he had been bitter at first, but came to realise it was not the fact that he had lost that mattered – it was how he lost. There are things you can’t control and things don’t always go to plan, but it is how you react to perceived failure that really counts.

I mention the attitude of Michael Jordan, the great NBA basketball player, in Sports Legends. He estimated he had missed a staggering 9000 shots in his career. In effect, he had failed 9000 times. Yet he is one of the most famous sportsmen that ever lived because he also scored 32,292 points. “I’ve failed over and over in my life which is why I succeed,” he said.

It is not easy to become resilient and the people in Sports Legends have had to work at it. The most important thing, though, is to learn from your mistakes and reframe it. Hopefully, there is comfort in knowing everybody fails and everybody makes mistakes.

From the TV, web and media, it’s easy to believe that famous sports people are almost mythical beings and I have seen first-hand how young and old regard them in awe. I feel fortunate to have seen their frailties, too, and think it is important to know about that side. If children know Adam Peaty, a world-record swimming champion, used to be afraid of water it might help them deal with their own fears. If they see how some of these stars have been abused and written off, it might provide a boost as they face their own hurdles. I hope, in some small way, that this book, as well as telling fascinating stories, might help children to take one small step towards doing their best and realising their potential. The overriding message is that you don’t need to play in a World Cup Final or stand on the Olympic podium – everyone can be a legend in their own way.

Huge thanks to Rick for such a fascinating guest post and to Walker Books for inviting me to host it.

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