William Hill Sports Book of the Year longlist reflects pivotal year of sport across the globe


  • The rise of female sport showcased & female trailblazers celebrated

  • Michael Holding’s Why We Kneel, How We Rise gives message of hope tackling racism in sport

  • Rob Burrow inspirational memoir on amazing career and brave battle with Motor Neurone Disease

  • Awards ceremony to be held on 2nd December in London

Today marks the release of the longlist for the 33rd annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards – the world’s oldest and richest sports writing prize – with amazing stories and memoirs that reflect the landscape of sport over the past year.

This year’s list has been carefully chosen from 143 entries and includes a diverse mix of 15 male and female authors from across a wide range of sports including tennis, football, rugby league, cricket, cycling, athletics, boxing, rugby, mountaineering and, for the first time in the awards’ history – flying.

Following Grigory Rodchenkov’s win in 2020, organisers are looking forward to naming a new winner and will have their work cut out with a stellar line up of talented authors making the longlist.

Judges will now get to work deciding on a shortlist to be announced on Thursday 28th October, ahead of the official awards ceremony at a London venue on Thursday 2nd December.

The impressive longlist comprises hard-hitting autobiographies and heartfelt memoirs, remarkable tales of courage and defiance, feats of incredible endurance, as well as revealing accounts of racism in sport and accounts from huge sporting icons.

Two of this year’s longlisted authors focus on racism and discrimination in sport. One is a powerful look at the history of racism through the prism of sport, showing how we can change things through education and understanding. The other highlights the additional challenges that black cyclists have had to overcome to succeed in the sport over the years.

There are a healthy number of female authors this year with three strong contenders, including Claire Smith, who became the first British athlete ever to complete a continuous Double Deca Iron Distance triathlon, Sue Anstiss, who established fearless women in 2020 - a company with a powerful ambition to drive positive change for women’s sport, and Elise Downing’s fantastic account of running 5,000 miles around the coast of Britain.

Rugby League legend Rob Burrow also makes the list. His extraordinary story documents his battle with Motor Neurone Disease and the incredible courage and resilience he has shown to keep fighting to the very end. It tells the story of a man who is channelling all his determination and positivity into his biggest battle yet.

WHSBOTY review panellist and renowned sports broadcaster Matt Williams says

“I'm delighted to have been involved in selecting the longlist for this prestigious award for a second year alongside Molly and Neil. The bar was set so high by last year's entrants but it has been cleared this year. The number of celebrated and talented writers who missed out is testament to the strength of the longlist. Yet again, they demonstrate how lucky we are to be living in a golden age of sport writing.”

Last year’s grand prize winner, Grigory Rodchenkov took the top honours for his memoir The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire. The former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory was in hiding since his participation in Bryan Fogel’s documentary "Icarus", in which he revealed the true extent of the Russian doping scandal.

Other famous authors to have won the award include Duncan Hamilton, Nick Hornby, Brian Moore, Marcus Trescothick, and two-time winner Donald McRae.

The 2021 shortlist will be announced on Thursday 28th October. The winning author will take home the £30,000 cash prize and trophy, while shortlisted authors will each receive £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book.