Run Like a Girl

Run Like a Girl
Danielle Brown, illustrated by Robin Shields
Button Books

With an illustration by Robin Shields on every spread, 2x Paralympic Gold Medallist, able-bodied Commonwealth Games medallist and champion of inclusion, Danielle Brown presents a look at the lives and achievements of 50 incredibly talented women from around the world of various ethnicities, ages and abilities.

No matter the sport, what these women all have in common is passion and perseverance and these qualities are what matter most of all. Resilience too is key, for success doesn’t come without something of a struggle.

Some of those featured have been honoured by their countries. For instance Olympic gold medal winning boxer Nicola Adams has an OBE,

while hockey player, captain and Olympic gold medallist Kate Richardson-Walsh has received an OBE and carried the TeamGB flag at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Triathlete, cyclist and rock climber Karen Darke not only has an MBE and a paralympic gold medal, but she also studied the gold content in rocks for a geology doctorate. She’s never let a fall down a cliff while climbing that left her paralysed and unable to walk again, hold her back. ‘Ability is a state of mind, not a state of body’ is her mantra.

Defying both terrorist threats and cultural restrictions, squash player Maria Toorpakai from Pakistan dressed like a boy when she was four in order to play outside and when she began playing squash she was often bullied and bruised by other players, received death threats from the Taliban at sixteen but has now, thanks to support from Canadian squash player Jonathon Power, become Pakistan’s top female squash player. She’s also set up a foundation that aims to create opportunities for children in remote communities to reach their potential: “I want to tell girls that fear is taught. You are born free and you are born brave,” she says.

Tracey Neville has been a netball player and England coach; Stephanie Frappart a soccer referee of women’s and men’s matches, and the first woman to officiate at a major European men’s match are also featured.

No matter the sporting interest of the young reader, they’ll likely find it represented in this inspiring book that is essentially all about following your dreams and exceeding expectations and goals. With the Olympics just over and Paris 2024 to look forward to, youngsters can browse the narrative information and biographical details of the spotlighted women herein. Never say never … for as swimmer Yusra Mardini who became a member of the 2016 Refugee Olympic team says, “I want everyone not to give up on their dreams. Even if it’s impossible, you never know what will happen.”