Synopses & Reviews
The sensational story of the rise and fall of Reg Harris, Britain's first cycling hero.
Thanks to exhaustive new research and investigation Robert Dineen has unearthed a truly cinematic story. This epic account of Reg Harris's meteoric success takes you from his humble beginnings to his spectacular highs and his dramatic lows.
Born into a poor, working-class family during the Great Depression, Reg Harris left school early to help support his widowed mother working in a bicycle shop. But after winning a local cycling competition, Harris realised his natural abilities and began to train seriously. Working in a paper mill to fund his ambitions, Harris soon started winning enough races to leave the mill and went on to break the rules of amateurism and become the favourite for three titles in the 1948 Olympics. But Harris's dreams of gold were shattered when he was involved in a high-speed car accident that nearly left him paralysed. However, Harris's determination and drive meant he defied the odds and he went on not only to compete in the Olympics but to win two silver medals.
From there, Harris's career went stellar and he became one of the most famous sporting figures in the land, eclipsing even footballers. Winning five World Championships between 1949 and 1954, fame, money and adulation followed, and with it an insatiable appetite for beautiful women, fine wine and fast cars that all threatened to destroy him. After blowing all his money, two failed marriages and a disastrous business venture, Harris made a shock come-back winning the British Championship at age 54. But was there a dark side to this celebrated victory? Through interviews with those who knew Harris best, Robert Dineen reveals both the professional triumphs and personal tribulations of this sporting legend.
ROBERT DINEEN is a sports journalist with the Daily Telegraph. He has previously worked for The Times, The Sunday Times and GQ, and has won prizes in several prestigious competitions, including the Vogue Young Writer of the Year and The Irish Post Young Sports Writer of the Year. Robert, a keen cyclist, is 33 years old and lives in London.
Reg Harris, whose statue overlooks the Manchester Velodrome, is the legend who all track cyclists want to emulate. He was a poor, working-class boy born in the Depression who escaped the Lancashire mills to utterly dominate his sport. He triumphed as world champion an incredible five times between 1947 and 1954 and performed medal-winning heroics at the London Olympics. At his peak he was the most adored sportsman in the country attracting huge crowds, sponsorship, and the company of the rich and famous. But, fiercely driven and ruthlessly single-minded, Harris had a dark side. His was a sensational life fueled by an insatiable need for money, celebrity, fast cars and beautiful women that constantly threatened to destroy him. Following an exhaustive investigation, Robert Dineen has uncovered an epic sporting rise and fall—a story more astounding than anyone had known.
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