More recognition for Rhinos legend Burrow

Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow has received even more recognition for his efforts to raise awareness and funds for those suffering from motor neurone disease.

The BBC documentary Rob Burrow: My Year with MND, which was recently nominated for a National Television Award, picked up the award for Best Single Documentary at the RTS Yorkshire Awards at a special event at the Queens Hotel in Leeds. The award was accepted on Rob’s behalf by BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent.

The award came on the same day as Burrow’s autobiography Too Many Reasons to Live has been nominated for long list for the prestigious 33rd annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards – the world’s oldest and richest sports writing prize – with him up against other amazing stories and memoirs that reflect the landscape of sport over the past year.

This year’s list has been carefully chosen from 143 entries and includes a diverse mix of 15 male and female authors from across a wide range of sports including tennis, football, rugby league, cricket, cycling, athletics, boxing, rugby, mountaineering and, for the first time in the awards’ history – flying.

Following Grigory Rodchenkov’s win in 2020, organisers are looking forward to naming a new winner and will have their work cut out with a stellar line up of talented authors making the longlist.

Judges will now get to work deciding on a shortlist to be announced on Thursday 28th October, ahead of the official awards ceremony at a London venue on Thursday 2nd December.

The impressive longlist comprises hard-hitting autobiographies and heartfelt memoirs, remarkable tales of courage and defiance, feats of incredible endurance, as well as revealing accounts of racism in sport and accounts from huge sporting icons.

Two of this year’s longlisted authors focus on racism and discrimination in sport. One is a powerful look at the history of racism through the prism of sport, showing how we can change things through education and understanding. The other highlights the additional challenges that black cyclists have had to overcome to succeed in the sport over the years.

There are a healthy number of female authors this year with three strong contenders, including Claire Smith, who became the first British athlete ever to complete a continuous Double Deca Iron Distance triathlon, Sue Anstiss, who established fearless women in 2020 – a company with a powerful ambition to drive positive change for women’s sport, and Elise Downing’s fantastic account of running 5,000 miles around the coast of Britain.

WHSBOTY review panellist and renowned sports broadcaster Matt Williams says “I’m delighted to have been involved in selecting the longlist for this prestigious award for a second year alongside Molly and Neil. The bar was set so high by last year’s entrants but it has been cleared this year. The number of celebrated and talented writers who missed out is testament to the strength of the longlist. Yet again, they demonstrate how lucky we are to be living in a golden age of sport writing.”

Last year’s grand prize winner, Grigory Rodchenkov took the top honours for his memoir The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire. The former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory was in hiding since his participation in Bryan Fogel’s documentary “Icarus”, in which he revealed the true extent of the Russian doping scandal.

Other famous authors to have won the award include Duncan Hamilton, Nick Hornby, Brian Moore, Marcus Trescothick, and two-time winner Donald McRae.

The 2021 shortlist will be announced on Thursday 28th October. The winning author will take home the £30,000 cash prize and trophy, while shortlisted authors will each receive £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book.