Review Blog

Jul 18 2012

Going for gold: Australian Olympians and other champions by Loretta Barnard

cover image

Ill. by Gregory Rogers. Random House Australia. ISBN 9781742755656.
(Age: 9+) This book appears to have been published in anticipation of Australia's participation in the 2012 London Olympics. There are 178 pages in hard copy, and it has also been published as an ebook. Of special note are the illustrations of Gregory Rogers - delicate, shaded b & w line drawings. The writing style is less notable with occasional flippant comments, which do not add to the overall quality or humour of the text.
There is an attractive, uncrowded, inviting layout. Similar sports are logically grouped together in sections eg In the pool, Ball games, On the track. There are good-sized sub-headings within each sport. Page numbers, sports and sections are clearly marked at the bottom of each page. The reader can explore the history of each sport, athlete profiles, clear explanations of how each sport is played, and Did you know? fact and trivia boxes.
Contents (sports only), Introduction and Index (athletes only) are included. There are lists of sports played at the Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and also Australia's medal tallies from each of the above.
There are some amazing stories of Australian Olympic participants eg Snowy Baker (1908), the only Australian to have competed in 3 different sports (swimming, diving, boxing); Shirley Strickland (1948), the photo of the finish line in the 200 metre final shows her in 3rd place, but without reference to the photo, the judges placed her 4th; and Steven Bradbury (2002), Winter Olympics gold medal, when he was the only man left standing in the final of the 1000 metre speed skating.
It is pleasing to see Louise Sauvage and Michael Milton in the Paralympics section, but a shame that current, outstanding Australian paralympians, shooter Libby Kosmala and swimmer Matthew Cowdrey were omitted. Conversely, it seems strange to include some Australian sporting champions eg. in tennis and soccer, who did not compete in the Olympic Games, as this book is ostensibly about the Olympic Games.
This book is appropriate for readers of 9+ years, but will have wide audience appeal. It is suitable for simply dipping into or for research purposes.
Margaret Strickland

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