From track to triumph: ex-professional runner Lauren Fleshman’s good for a girl takes gold as best sports book of 2023

From track to triumph: ex-professional runner Lauren Fleshman’s good for a girl takes gold as best sports book of 2023

Lauren Fleshman’s book, Good for a Girl: My Life Running in a Man’s World has been crowned the 2023 winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, picking up a prize of £30,000 at an official ceremony today (30 November), at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, in London. 

The announcement makes history as it is the first book about women in sport, authored by a woman, to receive the world’s most prestigious sports writing prize. 

The US champion’s part memoir, part manifesto documents Fleshman’s story of falling in love with running as a girl, battling devastating injuries and self-doubt, and daring to fight for a better way for female athletes. Drawing not only on her own story, but also on emerging research on the physiology and psychology of young athletes, Fleshman gives voice to the often-silent experience of the female athlete and argues that the time has come to rebuild our systems of competitive sport to allow women to perform at their best.

A panel of independent judges from the world of sports and journalism, chaired by author and journalist, Alyson Rudd, undertook a rigorous judging process, reviewing more than 150 entries down to the winning book. 

The Judges praised Good for a Girl for its “heartfelt narrative” and “compelling writing”, as well as its crucial advocacy for reform in sports for young women. Renowned sports broadcaster, Matt Williams, declared Fleshman’s book “not just one of the best sports books that I've read this year, but one of the best books full stop.” 

Receiving the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award trophy and a £30,000 cash prize today, Lauren Fleshman said: "It’s a huge honour to receive recognition for my book which lives in the nexus of two male dominated fields: sports and sports writing. We are still in the early stages of women telling their own stories, and books written by women in all genres are still widely put in a cultural box of ‘women’s books’ making it difficult for them to get more widely platformed."

"It's thrilling to be part of this moment in women’s sport history. We are experiencing growth in every meaningful way, across every sport, yet the problems I talk about in this book will persist and expand through that explosive growth unless we change how we approach and respect the athletes who play. I hope the win helps break the barriers surrounding the struggles of women in sport systems and institutions built around men, and raise the bar for how women are coached, triggering a shift in cultural thinking and societal perspectives, to both protect and empower girls to thrive in sport."

Alyson Rudd, Chair of the Judging Panel for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, said: "We had such an exceptionally high-quality shortlist this year, and selecting a winner was no small feat. For the first time, women’s books dominated, showing that more women are being commissioned to tell their stories, with many bravely tackling challenges within the sporting world."

"Good for a Girl is not only a must-read book on the challenges that women face in sport but a moving and informative memoir that will grip those who are not athletics fans. Lauren Fleshman exposes and shatters myths with disarming honesty and exceptional writing – it is a wonderful read and thoroughly deserving of the title William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2023."

The New York Times Bestseller, and now William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award winner, highlights the challenges women face in competitive running, exposing the flaws in the sports structure that is failing young women as much as empowering them. Through her drive for change, Fleshman confronts the misogynistic origins of sports, and even her sponsors, and addresses the concerning decline in girl’s participation once they hit puberty. The narrative also explores the struggles faced by female collegiate athletes, such as injuries, eating disorders and mental health issues.

The five authors on the shortlist, alongside Lauren Fleshman, receive £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book. They are:

  • Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H. Jacobs
  • Concussed: Sport’s Uncomfortable Truth by Sam Peters
  • Kick The Latch by Kathryn Scanlan
  • Unbreakable by Ronnie O’Sullivan 
  • Unfair Play: The Battle for Women’s Sport by Sharron Davies with Craig Lord

Having secured the 35th winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, Lauren Fleshman joins an impressive list of previous winners, including last year’s champion Jeremy Wilson. For the second consecutive year, a book centred on women’s sports clinches the award. Fleshman becomes the third woman to be awarded the prestigious prize joining former winners Anna Krien and Laura Hillenbrand.  

The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award first took place in 1989 and is now the longest-established competition in the industry. It is dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing and is the world’s most prestigious award in the sector. 

Entry to the 36th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is now open. For more information about the Award and to enter, please visit:



About Lauren Fleshman  

  • Lauren Fleshman is one of the most decorated American distance runners of all time.
  • Throughout her 13-year professional running career, she competed in various events, ranging from the 1,500 meters to the 10,000 meters.
  • She excelled in the 5,000 meters, where she represented the United States in international competitions.
  • Following her professional career, she spent eight years coaching athletes. 
  • Fleshman is known for her competitive spirit, versatility, and dedication to the sport. 
  • Apart from her athletic achievements, she is recognised for her advocacy and involvement in promoting a healthy and balanced approach to sports, particularly for women. 
  • She has been an advocate for body positivity, addressing issues relating to body image and eating disorders in the world of athletics. 
  • Fleshman is a brand strategy advisor for Oiselle, a fitness apparel company for women, and the cofounder of Picky Bars, a natural food company. 
  • Fleshman has shared her experience and insights through writing and public speaking. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and Runner’s World. 
  • She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, triathlete Jesse Thomas, and their two children.



Press: Media enquiries for William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award: Umpf, on 0800 4 10 20 10

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30 Nov 2023



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