I’m a runner, in the sense that I run regularly. I’m not particularly fast or particularly good at it, it’s just an easy way to exercise. When I received this book, I completely forgot that a review copy was coming, and I almost thought someone from my running club was pranking me.
Fire On The Track is about Betty Robinson, an Olympic gold medalist in track. As a slow runner, someone who’s been training since the summer and painfully working up to three-mile runs, I was extra impressed with her athletic ability. Robinson was seen running to catch a train, which led almost immediately to being tapped for the Olympics and then winning the Olympics.
Even that alone would have been a pretty great story. I love stories about someone discovering a hidden talent, or about having that talent recognized. But after that, though, she was in a plane crash, and was injured so badly she couldn’t walk. She began a long, slow recovery. These unlikely reversals, from student to fastest woman alive, and then from Olympics medalist to unable to walk, are true. This book reads like a novel, even though it’s a true story.
In addition to the biography parts, this book is about race and gender discrimination in sports. Readers see female athletes treated less seriously, earning less money, getting less press coverage, and just generally secondary to male athletes.