For the second time in as many weeks, the inspiring story of a Bahamian girl who ran sideways to guard against trouble lurking in bushes and sprinted her way all the way to two Olympic gold medals has captured the top spot in memoirs for 2023.The Track and Field Writers of America just announced it has awarded Running Sideways, The Olympic Champion who Made Track and Field History, its TAFWA Coogan’s Book Award for best biography of 2022.Davis will receive the latest award at the World Athletics Championship in Budapest in August.In words that rise and fall with the fast pace of a track star and details the stumbles and recoveries, the book details the life of world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Pauline Davis.
It lays bare the highs and lows of her life on and off the track, the determined rebounds, the wisdom and motivation she shares with young athletes today and her experiences as the unofficial dame of track taking the stories of The Bahamas to 177 countries.Earlier this month, Running Sideways took top place in the biography category of the International Book Awards, one of the most prestigious and coveted awards in publishing. That award was announced in Los Angeles in June. Written with ghost writer and well-known Canadian author TR Todd with interviews over a year, the award places the track star alongside previous International Book Awards winners including Pope Francis, Amy Tan, Vanessa Williams and Julie Andrews. And in the latest accolade from track and field writers, Davis stands side by side with the winner of Track and Field Writers choice for best film, Mo Farah, the Somalian sensation four-time gold medalist in the 5,000 and 10,000-metre, and ambassador for Save the Children.Davis, one of the original Golden Girls who won the 4×100 relay in the Sydney Olympics 2000 and the individual 200m during the same Games, was the first woman of colour to serve on the World Athletics Council. She was re-elected for 16 terms and is now an honorary member for life.
Lord Sebastian Coe, who chaired World Athletics, wrote the foreword to the story of her journey.Davis said she is stunned and humbled by the attention and praise Running Sideways has received. “I am shocked if I am being honest with you,” she said, “that this little Bahamian Girl who didn’t write her book for honours but to simply tell her story of her journey to the World and to encourage other persons who may have a similar journey to never quit and for them to understand that it is not how you start in life it is how you finish won such a prestigious award. Many, many thanks to you and your Team for honoring the Girl who ran Sideways.”Her ghost writer, TR Todd, said he met Davis when he was working in The Bahamas and asked her to be a patron of a race that he and a friend were starting in Exuma called Run for Pompey. The event was new, he said, and there was no guarantee it would attract a lot of runners, but Davis said if it would help provide a scholarship for a student in need, she was in.“Her enthusiasm was unbelievable, she brought such joy, I just knew there was a story there,” said Todd, when the two decided to collaborate.
At the time, he was just wrapping up his previous work, Pigs of Paradise, The True Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs. “Every aspect of Pauline’s life is incredible and defies expectation. I hope this book is something the entire Bahamas can be proud of. But beyond that, it’s an opportunity for the whole world to know The Bahamas on a more intimate level, through the eyes of the original Golden Girl. In these challenging times, this is a story of perseverance that we all need.”The book is available on Amazon.com, at the UB Bookstore or at the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays on Gladstone Road, Nassau.