Jeremy Wilson’s book, Beryl: In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete, Beryl Burton, has been crowned the 2022 winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award at an official ceremony on December 1, at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, in London.
Wilson, whose book pays homage to the remarkable life of champion cyclist Beryl Burton, capturing her life through family, friends and fellow competitors to reveal an incredible story about one of the greatest cyclists of all time, collected the Award trophy and a £30,000 prize.
A panel of judges from the world of sports and journalism, chaired by author and journalist, Alyson Rudd, concluded a four-month judging process, whittling a record 158 entries down to the winning book.
The Judges praised the book for its “exhaustive research” and “superb writing” including its opening paragraph “laced with righteous fury” on why the public has not heard more about Beryl Burton. The cyclist dominated her sport as much as her male contemporary Eddy Merckx, but with added longevity that surpasses sporting legends like Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams and Sir Steve Redgrave.
On receiving the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, Jeremy Wilson said: “I followed this award in the 1980s and 90s and must have half the previous winners on my book shelves. It’s inspired me to read sports books and write one. I felt such a responsibility to tell this story, Beryl made history and delivered this incredible story and I was fortunate to tell it. I share this award with her.”
Alyson Rudd, Chair of the Judging Panel for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, said: “Too few biographies focus on sports women, but this book helps to alter the balance. It is quite simply a tour de force and leaves the reader emotionally drained but also uplifted. Beryl deserved for her story to be told in style and Jeremy Wilson achieves that while also charting the more controversial elements of her extraordinary life.”
“This was a tough year for the judges, having had a record 158 entries. We had five incredible books on the shortlist, and selecting a winner was no mean feat. Congratulations to our other shortlisted authors and everyone who entered.”
The four authors on the shortlist , alongside Jeremy Wilson, receive £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book. They are:
• Be Good, Love Brian: Growing Up with Brian Clough by Craig Bromfield
• God is Dead: The Rise and Fall of Frank Vandenbroucke, Cycling’s Great Wasted Talent by Andy McGrath
• My Hidden Race by Anyika Onuora
• Expected Goals: The Story of how Data Conquered Football and Changed the Game Forever by Rory Smith
Jeremy Wilson is the 34th winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and joins an impressive list of past winners, including last year’s champion Michael Holding, three-time winner Duncan Hamilton, as well as the likes of Nick Hornby, Brian Moore and Marcus Trescothick.
The Award, which first took place in 1989 and is now the longest-established competition in the industry, is dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing, providing authors and publishers with a platform to showcase and promote their books.
Entry to the 35th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is now open. For more information about the Award and to enter, please visit: https://news.williamhill.com/sport/sports-book-of-the-year/
About Beryl Burton
- Beryl Burton was an English racing cyclist born in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
- From the 50s to the 80s, Beryl dominated women’s cycling racing in the UK, winning over 90 domestic championships and seven world titles, setting numerous national records.
- For 25 successive years (between 1959 and 1983), Burton was the British Best All-Rounder.
- Beryl broke numerous records throughout her career. She was the first woman to go under the hour for 25 miles and subsequently broke the two and four-hour barriers for the 50 and 100’ mile durations.
- One of her main achievements was setting a women’s record for the 12-hour time-trial which exceeded the men’s record for two years. Beryl still holds the women’s record which was set in 1967 (over 40 years ago).
- Beryl Burton died at the age of 58 from a heart attack whilst riding her bike close to her Yorkshire home.