Sports Legends: 50 Inspiring People by Rick Broadbent

Sports Legends: 50 Inspiring People – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: hearts, feelings, drama, passion & joy.
Children’s book title: Sports Legends: 50 Inspiring People to help you reach the top of your game.
Children’s author: Rick Broadbent.
Children’s illustrator: James Davies.
Genre: nonfiction: sport, biography.
Published by: Walker Books.
ISBN: 9781406397123
Recommended for children aged: 8-14.
First published: Paperback June 2021.
This children’s book is ideal for: all preteens, teenagers and anyone who wants help reaching the top of their game.


Sports Legends: 50 Inspiring People by Rick Broadbent

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Our review:

“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.”

– Tennis legend Arthur Ashe.

Rick Broadbent is a sports journalist at The Times and is the author of books on a range of sports. In his introduction to his 50 Sports Legends, he explains why sport matters:

“…it can get you in your heart and in the pit of your stomach…people think it is about being physically brilliant but that’s just one part of it …the best thing about sport is how it makes you feel.”

The organisation of the book is important as it acts rather like a carefully worked out training schedule for the reader.

  • It opens with – Why does sport matter? and closes with – You can do it too!
  • The sporting legends are grouped together in six chapters: Facing Fear, Overcoming Failure, Dare to be Different, Growth Mindset, The Confidence Trick and Never Give Up.
  • Teams, as well as individuals, are included.
  • Relevant questions and comments introduce each of the chapters and these lead into the stories and pen–portraits of the individual legends.
  • There are lessons and headlines that neatly summarise things as we work through our programme.

This arrangement works so well because it is clear and simple and the sporting legends are carefully selected for their positive character traits in addition to their sporting prowess.

Sports Legends by Rick Broadbent inside spread

This great book is all about hearts, stomachs and feelings. It is about drama, passion and joy rather than a list of achievements recorded by medal collections. It is about learning from, and being inspired by others, rather than hiding your potential and giving into fear and it’s great because it makes the reader think and invites you to confront your own doubts and prejudices.

Rick Broadbent writes with a teenage audience in mind but anyone with an interest in sport will enjoy this book and you don’t need a degree in Sport Psychology to understand the points he is making as he engages and communicates in a straightforward and down to earth way. Although many of his legends are global sporting superstars his analysis and guidance is full of common sense and is never condescending or preachy in tone.

What I particularly liked was the variety of sports embraced by the book. In Chapter 3 – Dare to be Different – we have detailed encounters with Marc Marquez (Spanish, motorcycle racing), Tom Daley (British, diving), Bryony Frost (British, horse racing) and Usain Bolt (Jamaican, athletics) and we have brief encounters with Megan Rapinoe (USA, football), Khadijah Mellah (British, horse racing), Niki Lauda (Austria, motor racing) and Martina Navratilova (Czech / USA, tennis). I learned something from each of these encounters and Usain Bolt’s Legend Lesson worked well for me:

“If we get too stressed it increases pressure…so be different…make it fun…take deep breaths, relax. You don’t have to take things seriously just because everyone else does. If you are under pressure think about random things to relax – think about your dinner!”

I loved reading, and learning from, this excellent book. It’s full of fascinating facts and valuable life lessons and, perhaps most important, it is hugely enjoyable to read.

Many thanks to Walker Books for the review copy.

If you like Sports Legends: 50 Inspiring People by Rick Broadbent you might also like: The Young Cyclist’s Companion by Peter Drinkell, The Truths We Hold – An American Journey by Kamala Harris, Ronaldo Rules by Simon Mugford & Dan Green, Happy Healthy Minds by The School of Life and Challenge Everything by Blue Sandford.


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About Patrick Sanders

Photo of author
Patrick is a former secondary English teacher and headteacher with over 35 years of experience. He is a husband, father and grandfather.