The Ultimate Prize The Ultimate Prize
Great Christian Olympians

Stuart Weir
ISBN 0340862254
Hodder & Stoughton, 2004
£8.99

Published to coincide with the Athens 2004 Olympics, this is the perfect book for anyone who wants to know what makes an Olympic participant tick, what's behind the Olympics or would like a reminder of some of the best moments in sporting history.

The book starts with a historical perspective on the Olympics – and if, like me, you were under the impression that the Olympics have always been there, an unbroken line of tradition from ancient Greece to today, you'll be in for a few surprises. The modern international Olympics started up only just over a hundred years ago, founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1896 after a break of well over a thousand years (discounting the British "Olympicks" that ran from 1612 - 1852). As for the Olympic Flame – that didn't appear until Amsterdam's 1928 games.


"Whether you're going to Athens or watching the games from the comfort of your own home, make sure you have a copy of this book handy for maximum enjoyment"

A brief resume of each year's games highlights key events, followed by a chapter dedicated to "Memorable Olympic Moments" with a roll of honour – and dishonour. The mainstay of the book, however, comes in Chapters 3 - 11, which recount the personal stories of a number of Olympic champions whose Christian faith has given them the strength and determination to give the games their best. No book on the Olympics would be complete without a chapter on Eric Liddell, made famous by the film Chariots of Fire, then we have – amongst others – chapters on Kriss Akabusi, Jonathan Edwards, Steph Cook and Michelle Akers. Each chapter is based on a combination of meticulous research alongside personal conversations, exclusive interviews and individual correspondence with the author – who happens to be the General Secretary of Christians in Sport – giving him a unique insight into their lives and faith.

The book closes with a fascinating collection of "Olympic Trivia" (can anything be trivial about the Olympics?), perfect ammo for that quiz evening that's inevitably going to come up before the year's over, followed by a set of appendices giving us the 100m Men's and Women's Gold Medallists from 1896 - 2000, a comparison of results for 1896 and 2000, and a full list of Sydney 2000's Gold Medallists.

All in all this is – as the publishers have described it – "The perfect armchair companion to the Olympic Games." Whether you're going to Athens or watching the games from the comfort of your own home, make sure you have a copy of this book handy for maximum enjoyment – and a spare copy to give to a friend or neighbour.

Christians in Sport

Phil Groom, July 2004

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

 


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