Olympians provide an inside track to gold trail

Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins
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After such a spectacular sporting summer its perhaps no surprise that Waterstones’ top 10 sporting Christmas gifts includes a triumphant trio of books from Olympic stars.

London 2012 gold medallists Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton have all produced compelling and often emotional accounts of their glittering careers, each providing a real insight into what it takes to be the best.

For football fans, there’s much to enjoy including Be Careful What You Wish For, Simon Jordan’s cautionary tale of the perils of owning your own football club and The Secret Footballer lifts the lid on the ‘Beautiful Game’.

Winner of this year’s prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the controversial The Secret Race from cyclist Tyler Hamilton is a must-read for all fans of the sport, as he gives his explosive account of the doping system in Lance Armstrong’s US Postal team.

Here is Waterstones’ selection of some of the best gifts for sports fans this Christmas and your chance to win a great prize.

The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton (Bantam £18.99)

On a fateful night in 2009, Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle met for dinner in Boulder, Colorado. The two had met five years before while Coyle was writing his bestselling book, Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force. But this time, Tyler had something else on his mind. He finally wanted to come clean, about everything: the doping, the lying, his years as Lance Armstrong’s team-mate on US Postal, his decade spent running from the truth. Over the next 18 months, Hamilton would tell his story, and his sport’s story, in explosive detail, never sparing himself in the process. In a way, he became as obsessed with telling the truth as he had been with winning the Tour de France just a few years before. The truth would set Tyler free, but would also be the most damning indictment yet of Tour winners such as Armstrong. The result of this determination is The Secret Race, a book that pulls back the curtain and takes us into the secret world of professional cycling like never before. A world populated by unbelievably driven – and some flawed – characters. A world where the competition used every means to get an edge, and the options were stark. A world where it often felt like there was no choice.

Unbelievable by Jessica Ennis (Hodder £20).

On August 4, 2012 Jessica Ennis kicked off what some described as the greatest night in British sporting history. For her, it was the end of a long, winding, and sometimes harrowing road. Unbelievable is a candid account of Jessica’s rise to fame in a highly charged world in which body image issues and drug abuses lurk. From the unique pressures facing her, to behind-the-scenes glimpses into the greatest show on earth, and a revealing account of her love-hate relationship with her long-term coach, Jessica reveals the truth behind the smiles. This is the story of how the girl next door became London’s poster girl, and how an ordinary woman from Sheffield used an extraordinary talent to claim the title of the world’s greatest all-round female sports star. Jessica is pictured, top right, with her BBC Sports Personality of the Year runners-up award.

Fibber in the Heat by Miles Jupp (Ebury £11.99)

Fanatical about cricket since he was a boy, Miles Jupp would do anything to see his heroes play. But perhaps deciding to bluff his way into the press corps during England’s Test series in India wasn’t his best idea. By claiming to be the cricket correspondent for BBC Scotland and getting a job with the (Welsh) Western Mail, Miles lands the press pass that will surely be the ticket to his dreams. Soon, he finds himself in cricket heaven – drinking with David Gower and Beefy, sharing bar room banter with Nasser Hussain and swapping diarrhoea stories with the Test Match Special team. Amazing! But struggling in the heat under the burden of his own fibs, reality soon catches up with Miles as he bumbles from one disaster to the next. A joyous, charming, yet cautionary tale, Fibber in the Heat is for anyone who has ever dreamt about doing nothing but watching cricket all day long.

My Time by Bradley Wiggins (Yellow Jersey £20).

On July 22, 2012 Bradley Wiggins became the first British man ever to win the Tour de France. In an instant ‘Wiggo’ became a national hero. Ten days later, having swapped his yellow jersey for the colours of Team GB, he won Olympic gold in the time trial, adding to his previous six medals to become the nation’s most decorated Olympian of all time. Outspoken, honest, intelligent and fearless, Wiggins has been hailed as the people’s champion. In My Time he tells the story of the remarkable journey that led to him winning the world’s toughest race. He opens up about his life on and off the bike, about the personal anguish that has driven him on and what it’s like behind the scenes at Team Sky: the brutal training regimes, the sacrifices and his views on his team-mates and rivals. He talks, too, about his anger at the spectre of doping that pursues his sport, how he dealt with the rush of taking Olympic gold and above all what it takes to be the greatest.

Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey £18.99)

Ever dreamed of owning your boyhood football club? Simon Jordan grew up a stone’s throw from Crystal Palace Football Club. As a boy he used to break into the Palace ground for a kick-about on the hallowed turf. On leaving school he entered the mobile phone business. By the age of 32, he’d built a company from nothing, sold it for £75m and bought his childhood club. By the age of 42, Palace was in administration and Jordan had lost nigh on everything. Be Careful What You Wish For lifts the lid on the owner’s story and reveals for the first time how the national game really works. Jordan spares no one, least of all himself, as he takes us inside a world where hopes and aspirations sit alongside greed, self-interest, overpriced players, dodgy transfers and top-level incompetence. He doesn’t hold back. Breathtakingly honest, highly controversial, humorous and full of jaw-dropping anecdotes, Be Careful What You Wish For is far more than a football book. It is a social commentary on the culture of great wealth and ambition; a Shakespearean tragedy that exposes the dark side of chasing a dream.

Between The Lines by Victoria Pendleton (HarperSport £20)

Victoria Pendleton MBE is not your typical female athlete. Admired as much by the weekly glossies as she is the newspaper back pages, she transcends her sport. In 2005 she became first British female to win gold at the cycling World Championships in 40 years. She followed it up with gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and another World Championship in 2007. Arriving in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, Pendleton was on top of the world. She didn’t disappoint. In an enthralling example of track cycling, Pendleton took gold and joined the ranks of British Olympic heroes. And then it started to go wrong. Feted by the press and the public alike, behind the scenes the cracks and strains started to show. Between the Lines documents the considerable lows as well as the well-known highs and reveals why Victoria almost turned her back on cycling before rediscovering her Championship winning form in 2011, the day after suffering one of her most humiliating days on the track. Written with Donald McRae, two time winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, Between the Lines promises to be the most honest and emotional book from an Olympian to date.

An Open Book: My Autobiography by Darren Clarke (Hodder & Stoughton £20)

A golfer loved for his courage and charisma, Darren Clarke has the crowds behind him. They know he is a warm, funny raconteur who likes a Guinness, who both works hard and plays hard. More important, they know that this man pulled himself up by his bootstraps, having lost his wife Heather to cancer, to triumph at the 2006 Ryder Cup. Born in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Darren caddied for his golf course greenkeeper father, turning pro in 1990. He has played in four victorious Ryder Cup sides and in 2002 he became the only player to win the English Open three times. In An Open Book he speaks candidly about fellow-players, coaches and golfing psychologists; about how he was bullied at school, narrowly missed an IRA bomb and how he set up a foundation to develop junior golf in Ireland.

I Am The Secret Footballer (Guardian £12.99)

Who is The Secret Footballer? His identity is jealously guarded by just a handful of people. But whoever he is – and whoever he plays for – he is always honest, always fearless and always opinionated. This genuine story of one player’s career is a unique combination of considered analysis, tell-all gossip and the joys and frustrations that only someone who plays the game at the highest levels can really feel. From the realities of racism and depression, to the pleasure and pain of sky-high salaries and the scandals of Christmas parties, The Secret Footballer reveals everything you need to know about the beautiful (and not so beautiful) game.

The Inside Track by Jake Humphreys (Simon & Schuster £18.99)

Jake Humphrey has one of the best jobs in the world. Flying around the world presenting Formula One to six million people is not a bad occupation. And there is plenty that the viewer doesn’t get to see, quite a lot of it rather surprising, too. Travelling around the globe in the F1 bubble, Jake brings you close to the action. With his unique access to the key characters in the sport, he reveals a side of figures such as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton rarely seen before, as well as showing what it is like to work with F1 legends David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan. From techie heaven driving the Red Bull simulator to witnessing moments of great sporting triumph, Humphrey takes the reader behind the scenes in the paddock to unveil the changing face of F1, as well as recounting the pitfalls faced by a TV presenter permanently walking the tightrope of public humiliation.

A History of Football in 100 Objects by Bill Mann and Gavin Mortimer (Profile £9.99)

What does a grapefruit have in common with a pair of £500 sunglasses? They’ve both played a pivotal role in football history. Following on from Neil MacGregor’s groundbreaking The History of the World in 100 Objects, Bill Mann provides a quirky and unique take on the beautiful game told through its defining objects. It begins on the momentous day in October 1863 when several men in frock coats formed the Football Association. Ever since, the sport has evolved – and created new ways to thrill and infuriate its billions of followers along the way. If you’ve ever wanted to know when footballers started to feign injury, why an old sock helped Pele become a global legend or how a draper’s letter changed football, you’ll find the answer in this fascinating history of invention, ingenuity, indiscipline – and sometimes inebriation. From the inaugural red card to the ubiquitous mock Tudor mansion, each of the objects selected gives us an intimate glimpse of an unexpected truth behind footie mythology – and together they relate the larger history of the world’s biggest and most-loved sport.

All books are available from local Waterstones bookshops and online at www.waterstones.com