As an avid fan of the Olympics, even if not so much track and field, I was glad for the chance to read Sanya Richard-Ross's autobiography. I really knew very little about her beforehand, but she covers everything from her childhood to her retirement before the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Sanya was a fast-rising track star in Jamaica before her family realized they would have more opportunities if they immigrated to the United States. The Richards family settled in Florida, and Sanya ran her way through school and on to her collegiate career at the University of Texas.
I especially enjoyed the parts about the three Olympics at which Sanya competed - Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008, and London in 2012. She goes into details like who always travels with her, what her race day routine is like, etc. One of the things to which Sanya credits her success is surrounding herself with a good group of coaches and supporters. I liked this quote from Chapter 10: "In the end, it won't be the medals or the promotions that mean the most; it will be the people and the memories you create along the way."
The most heartbreaking portion of Sanya's story comes in 2008, when shortly before the Beijing Games she found out she was pregnant. She chose to have an abortion literally days before flying to China for the competition, and was still suffering the physical effects during her disappointing 400m race there. Sanya does not glorify this choice, and she talks about how it has affected other parts of her life, including her marriage. It does seem that in seeking spiritual healing for this devastating time Sanya really and truly encountered God's love for her. It was after this part of the book that the spiritual insights seemed to become deeper and more authentic.
Another part that spoke to me was towards the end, as Sanya was dealing with injuries and having to consider retirement. "Just taking the next step, I realized, is an act of hope as you trust God to see you through," she said in Chapter 13. That could apply to all uncertain times we find ourselves in.
I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading about athletes - their story, their faith, the way our lives are similar or different. Thank you to the publisher for my copy of the book. All opinions in this review are my own.