This is is a fictional story set in the environment of international track athletics. The heroine is a talented young South African runner, Abby Dennison who, after a childhood tragedy, is motivated to become the world’s top-ranked athlete over the 1 500 metre distance.
James Selfe is an ambitious bank executive in London who organises the Roger Bannister Memorial Meeting, staged annually in the 2012 London Olympic stadium. To rekindle the fading memory of the great Roger Bannister, he decides to put on a mile race for women with the goal of breaking the long-standing world record for the distance and invites the best middle-distance runners in the world to compete. Abby is the headline competitor and the race becomes the talking point of the sporting world.
Deon Coetzee, three years ahead of Abby at school, studies journalism and, as she climbs the world rankings, he becomes his country’s top athletics writer. Selfe invites him to attend the Bannister meeting and he becomes immersed in her sporting journey.
The Bannister race is a watershed event in the sport and the excitement around the women’s mile distance, and Abby’s career after London, become headline news across the athletics world.
The reader is taken into the fascinating world of international sport where records, accolades, fame and fortune await those who reach the very pinnacle of success. At the same time, Abby and her small support team have to deal with challenges other than just the other athletes on the track: a lifestyle based on continual travelling, the relentless training regimen needed to stay at the top and the ever-present risk of injuries.
But there’s more: doping, intentional or accidental, can derail an athlete’s career in an instant. Abby also becomes aware that being a beautiful, iconic female role model attracts unwelcome and even dangerous attention. Criminality is the dark, hidden threat that she has to face.
In the end, a multi-talented woman such as Abby has to ask herself, “Is winning enough?”
Ian Laxton has been an international radio and television commentator, as well as a writer and print journalist in athletics for more than thirty years. He has worked at three Olympic Games, three World Athletics Championships, many other international events and numerous local South African track and road events, including 30 Comrades Marathons and 28 Two Oceans Marathons.
He is married to well-known, formerly world-ranked track, cross-county and road athlete, Sonja Laxton. The Final Lap is his first novel.
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