ENTERTAINMENT SPORT — 03 October 2013

Sebastian Coe’s Irish roots were confirmed with a Certificate of Irish Heritage presented by President Higgins in London last year

Shelley Marsden

Lord Sebastian Coe’s Irish roots were confirmed with a Certificate of Irish Heritage presented by President Higgins in London last year

Lord Sebastian Coe has been longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2013 for his autobiography Running My Life.

Joining him on one of the most internationally high-profile longlists in the prize’s 25 year history are: Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp, for Stillness and Speed: My Story; rower Katherine Grainger, who finally scooped her long-awaited Olympic gold in front of a home crowd at London 2012, for Dreams Do Come True; Jimmy Connors, the most successful tennis player of his generation, for his autobiography, The Outsider; and Zlatan Ibrahimović, for I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović, which documents the Swedish footballer’s journey from poverty to top-scorer at Paris Saint-Germain.

Other titles making the grade include Philippe Auclair’s acclaimed biography of Thierry Henry and Immortal: The Approved Biography of George Best by William Hill Sports Book veteran Duncan Hamilton. Winner of the Award in both 2007 and 2009, if Hamilton goes on to win again this year, he will make history by becoming the first writer to win the Award three times.

A truly international collection of titles, this year’s 17-strong longlist represents writers and sportspeople from France, the Netherlands, America, Britain, Spain, Italy and Sweden. Though football titles dominate, taking up over a third of the longlist, eight other sports, including tennis, rowing, horseracing, ping-pong and cycling, also feature.

William Hill spokesman, and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe, said: “As befits the 25th anniversary of the world’s undisputed finest award for sports books and their authors, I do not believe we have previously seen a year produce such an abundance of top quality titles. The judges face their toughest task yet in initially creating a shortlist then deciding on a winner – which will have beaten a classic field to be declared champion”.

The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world’s longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £25,000 cash prize, the winning author will receive a £2,500 William Hill bet, a hand-bound copy of their book, and a day at the races.

The judging panel for this year’s Award consists of: broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the Award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.

The shortlist will be announced on October 25. The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, at an evening reception at The Hospital Club in central London, on Wednesday November 27.

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