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Great Olympic Moments by Sir Steve Redgrave

Release date: 11th October, 2011
Publisher: Headline

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £12.49
You Save: £7.51 (37%)
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There's little doubt that the definitive Olympic tome is the brilliant Athens to Athens written by David Miller, published prior to the 2004 Games, which also enjoyed an 'official' epithet. This enormous book provided chapter and verse on Olympic history and rapidly became the first port of call for those researching virtually any aspect of the Games.

By contrast, Sir Steve Redgrave offers us a more personal, subjective selection of moments which ultimately inspired him to reach unprecedented levels of Olympic achievement. In fairness, he devotes one section to the gold medal tally won by the German canoeist, Birgit Fischer, who collected an astonishing eight gold medals at five consecutive Olympics between 1980-2004: "Makes my haul look pretty small by comparison," adds Sir Steve.

Where Miller's enormous volume offers an abundance of detail, Sir Steve provides bite-size snippets and observation more suited to the twittering age. Where Great Olympic Moments really scores, however, is in the quality of its photography, a feature enhanced by the book's larger-than-usual dimensions.

While it probably could have done with a modicum of Miller's descriptive scene-setting and some background explanations, Great Olympic Moments cannot be accused of falling short when it comes to capturing the Games' most dramatic flashes in photographic format.

We see a battling, open-mouthed, Mark Spitz en route to seven golds at Munich in 1972; there's the beautiful Nadia Comaneci dismounting the asymmetric bars to record an unprecedented perfect score at Montreal in 1976 and there's that fantastic photograph of a delighted, arms-outstretched, Kelly Holmes winning the 1,500 metres at Athens in 2004. Each one of these wonderful pictures ignites equally precious Olympic memories, though perhaps the most outstanding one remains Bob Beamon soaring through the thin Mexican air to establish a long-jump world record of 8.90 metres in 1968.

Beamon's leap was quite remarkable for several reasons, not least because he was nearly eliminated from the competition after two foul jumps in the opening round. The photograph of his world-record jump reproduced here is equally remarkable. The American appears to have lost hold of an invisible horse; even after all of these years, you half expect him to shout, 'Whooaah there' as he careers an unprecedented distance.

We can expect a steady flow of Olympic-related books over the next 12 months, but few will equal the photographic excellence on display inside Great Olympic Moments.

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