Harper Collins, £6.99stg
This authorised biography of Britain's Olympic triple jump champion is an updated edition of last year's publication and includes a new chapter on Sydney 2000, where Edwards finally won Gold in his fourth Olympics. Edwards leapt to fame when he broke a 10-year-old world record for the triple jump in 1995, but Olympic gold had always eluded him. That begs the question, why was the book originally published only months before Sydney? It would have made a fitting finale – as it does in the 2001 edition. A second round of cash tills ringing, no doubt, will be music to the ears of some.
Born into a devoutly Christian family - his father is a Reverend - Edwards' path has been one that is committed to God. To him the meaning of life has always extended beyond jumping into a sandpit. "It is more important to me to be a faithful follower of Christ than an all-conquering sportsman," writes Edwards. Indeed for the first decade of his career Edwards refused to compete on a Sunday, which even involved refusing to compete in a trial for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Dedicated Christian though Edwards is, this is no simple biography of a goody-two-shoes. The book unravels contradictions in both his person and faith. Edwards and author Malcolm Folley cover, among many things, allegations of Edwards being motivated by money, his love of fast cars – he spent £60,000 on a new Porsche – and the guilt it brought. He also writes about reversing his conviction not to compete on a Sunday.
A chapter is devoted to the subject of Edwards maintaining his business relationship and loyalty to maligned promoter, Andy Norman. Controversy has often been hot on the heels of one of Britain’s most popular sporting heroes, Edwards mostly puts this down to being misunderstood. Folley includes Edwards' wide but close network of family, friends, advisers and fellow athletes to elaborate upon this and on the man himself. They provide a sturdy foundation to the introspection Edwards offers on himself as the man and the athlete. Edwards' integrity is reflected in the obvious honesty of this 400-page account, as well as the candour of those interviewed by Folley, which leaves no stone unturned. The reader is given a rare insight into the insecurities that can beset an athlete and upset the equilibrium. Insecurities Edwards was eventually able to master at the fourth time of asking last September in Sydney.
It is a pity it took two publications in quick succession, rather than one, to read the final outcome. Despite that, this an enjoyable and informative read which stands out from the run-of-the-mill sports biographies that have flooded the bookshelves in recent years.