Titles celebrating an astonishing range of sports - including football, cricket, long-distance running, cycling, TT racing, squash and the Ironman triathlon – will battle it out for this year's William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the richest and most prestigious prize of its type anywhere in the world.Squash and the Ironman triathlon are represented on the William Hill Sports Book of the Year shortlist for the first time, with Shot and a Ghost, the autobiography of British and World Number One squash player James Willstrop, and A Life Without Limits, the autobiography of four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion Chrissie Wellington.
Making the shortlist for the second time in four years is Rick Broadbent for That Near Death Thing, in which he follows the leading racers of the world's most dangerous race, The Isle of Man TT. If Broadbent goes on to win, it will be the first time a book about motorsport has ever claimed the title.
Other shortlisted titles include: Running with the Kenyans, in which the writer Adharanand Finn sets out to discover just what it is that makes Kenyan runners so fast; Be Careful What You Wish For, the story of Simon Jordan, the life-long Crystal Palace fan who bought the club with his self-made millions, only to lose nigh on everything when it went into administration in 2010; and Fibber in the Heat by comedian Miles Jupp, which follows the The Thick of It star as he bluffs his way into the cricket press corps during England's Test series in India.
The shortlist is completed by The Secret Race, in which former professional road cyclist, Tyler Hamilton and journalist Daniel Coyle expose the hidden world of doping and cover-ups in the Tour de France, claimed to be the most damning indictment yet of Tour winners such as Tyler's former teammate, Lance Armstrong.
The shortlist in full:
· That Near-Death Thing – Inside the TT: The World's Most Dangerous Race by Rick Broadbent (Orion)
· Running with the Kenyans – Discovering The Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn (Faber)
· The Secret Race – Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (Bantam Press)
· Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey)
· Fibber in the Heat by Miles Jupp (Ebury Press)
· A Life Without Limits – A World Champion's Journey by Chrissie Wellington, with Michael Aylwin (Constable & Robinson)
· Shot and a Ghost: A Year in the Brutal World of Professional Squash by James Willstrop with Rod Gilmour (James Willstrop / Rod Gilmour)
William Hill spokesman and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe said: "From a record entry of 165 titles, the judges have produced a magnificently varied list of seven readable, remarkable and worthy contenders. The subject matter encompasses the entire emotional gamut from comedy to tragedy."
Now in its 24th year, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £24,000 cash prize, the winning author will receive a £2,000 William Hill bet, a specially-commissioned hand-bound copy of their book and a day at the races.
The judging panel for this year's award consists of broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; footballer and chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, Clarke Carlisle, who joins the judging panel for the first time; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.
The winner will be announced at a lunchtime reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe's largest bookstore, on Monday 26th November.