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Inspirational memoirs: These sportswomen beat all odds and became role models

Indian players’ fierce battle at the Women’s Cricket World Cup has left us all proud, and inspired. Get your hands on these books for more such motivational tales.

books Updated: Jul 26, 2017 22:36 IST
Lakshana Palat
Lakshana Palat
Hindustan Times
Maria Toorpkai Wazir,Squash,Sasha Cohen
Here are some books which tell the stories of these sportswomen who overcame all odds.

India may have lost the Women’s Cricket World Cup finals, but the passion and grit of our women on the field sure won hearts. Their journey, all the way to the final match against England, is nothing short of an inspirational tale for many — one with many hurdles, but exuding that never-say-die spirit.

In this vein, how about a look at more sportswomen who overcame obstacles to become powerful names in the field of sports, and a shining beacon of inspiration for women around the world? Here are some books which tell the stories of these female warriors:

1) A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid From the Taliban in Plain Sight by Maria Toorpakai: Maria Toorpakai Wazir hails from Pakistan’s violently-oppressive northwest tribal region — a place where it’s even forbidden to think of girls playing sports. Armed with just a squash racket and determination, Maria disguised herself as a boy, and went ahead to fulfil her dream of becoming a squash player. She became the number one female squash player in Pakistan. However, as Taliban wanted her dead, she left the country and went to train in Canada, under Jonathon Power, the first North American to earn the title of top squash player in the world. Today, she is well on her way to become a world-champion, and is a voice for oppressed women everywhere. As of May 2016, she is ranked 56th among female players in the world.

2) Fire on Ice: Autobiography of a Champion Figure Skater by Sasha Cohen: With her outstanding layback spin at 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, US, Sasha Cohen caught the world’s attention. Later in 2006, she triumphed with a silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games. In this moving memoir, Sasha tells the story of her journey and her comeback from an injury which almost ended her career — and how her faith and determination kept her going.

3) Blakwidow: My First Year as a Professional Wrestler by Amanda Storm: Amanda quit her job of writing computer manuals and moved to train at Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school near Boston. Just a year later, she became the proud holder of championships in three different federations. Today, Amanda wrestles and bodyslams men who outweigh her by a 100 pounds — this has earned her the name, “Blakwidow”. Her memoir tells the story of how she battled and wrestled with all obstacles to reach where she is today — one of the dominant female wrestlers in Canada and Eastern Europe.

4) Kicking Up Dirt: A True Story of Determination, Deafness and Daring by Ashley Fiolek and Carolyn Ryder: Motorcross is one of the most dangerous and extreme sports. However, this clearly didn’t dampen Ashley’s spirits. At 19, she is one of the top female competitors in motorcross. She has twice won the American Women’s Motocross Championship, and become the first woman in American motocross history to be signed to a factory team — the highest echelon of industry backing. Racing with number plates 67 and 1, she won the Women’s Motocross (WMX) Championship in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012.What makes her success even more overwhelming? She was born profoundly deaf, and that’s life-threatening on the track. Read and get inspired by her moving story.

5) A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball by Jennifer Ring: The book relates the history of women’s baseball in the US — something which has gone unnoticed by the world — and offers an account of the 2010 Women’s World Cup Tournament, where women were selected to play for the Baseball Cup. Ring has anecdotes and from all the eleven female players — from the time they first held the bat to the various taunts and jibes they faced by people around them, to become outstanding baseball players today.

6) In My Own Words by Nancy Kerrigan: The journey to become one of the most popular and admirable skaters was no easy task for Kerrigan.Even her skating outfits inspired trends. In her own words, she tells the story of her love for the sport, which began in childhood, and the Detroit attack (1994) that left her injured and pushed her further into the spotlight.

7) In the Water They Can’t See You Cry: A Memoir by Amanda Beard: At the age of 14 in 1996, Amanda walked to the pool deck at Atlanta Olympics. She left with two silvers and a gold medal. Today, Amanda is an international swimming star. Read about her journey, and the demons she battled along the way, and how she triumphed all odds. Not just that, she even had a successful modelling career on the side!

8) The Great Swim by Gavin Mortimer: It was a time, when the world was still recovering from the aftermath of the First World War. However, amid these tensions, one rainy day in 1926, the battle between four young women— Gertrude Ederle, Mille Gade, Lillian Cannon, and Clarabelle Barrett — to conquer the difficult and brutal waters of the English channel, became a tale of inspiration and courage for women around the world. This is a tale of perseverance, strength and sheer will.

9) The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team: An American Success Story by Clemente A. Lisi: Lisi takes a look at how women’s soccer has steadily gained popularity over the last few decades, and how it became a model for women’s teams around the globe. The book also describes the development of the women’s team, highlighted by their two first place finishes in the Women’s World Cup (1991 and 1999) and four Olympic women’s gold medals (1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012).

10) Just Another Hurdle: An Autobiography by Jana Pittman: Two times World Champion and four times Commonwealth Champion athlete Jana has been thrust into the limelight, owing to her personal life, be it her marriage, divorce, and her constant battles with fellow athlete, Tamsyn Lewis. However, this time, get around to read about Jana’s life — in her own words, the real athlete behind all the sensational headlines. This determined athlete won a lot of praise for swapping the racing track with ice in 2014, and became the first woman to represent Australia in both a Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

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First Published: Jul 26, 2017 22:11 IST