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Amazing Women Athletes

by Jill Bryant

What special qualities, besides talent, go into the making of a world-class athlete? Young readers will discover the answer in Jill Bryant’s Amazing Women Athletes, the latest title in The Women’s Hall of Fame Series published by Second Story Press. The 10 women profiled represent different countries, time periods, and sports, but the common theme is the accomplishment they earned. Even when faced with the challenging hurdles of prejudice, financial hardship, self-doubt, and physical injuries, these athletes maintained the necessary self-discipline, determination, and never-give-up attitude.

Annie Smith Peck (1850-1935) shocked the world by tearing off her cumbersome skirts to climb the Matterhorn. Canadian sports-wonder Bobbie Rosenfeld set three world records at the 1928 Olympics, at a time when doctors proclaimed track-and-field events “unsuitable” for women. Chantal Petitclerc turned tragedy (an accident that paralyzed her legs) into opportunity as she trained to become a Gold medal Paralympian. African-American sisters Venus and Serena Williams courageously persevered in the white-dominated world of tennis, and are now internationally admired for their bold, unique style.

These athletes’ accomplishments extend beyond the sports arena as well. Hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser is studying to become a doctor, Venus Williams is launching her own line of clothing and footwear, and Australian runner Cathy Freeman, whose ancestry is aboriginal, is using her fame to promote aboriginal rights. These athletes are excellent role models for children – focused but well-rounded, believing that family, friends, and education are important as well as sports.

This well-written collection, which includes photographs, informative sidebars, and a bibliography of sources, web sites, and suggested further reading, will be a valuable addition to school library collections.