From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-- Connolly recounts the nine years she worked with Evelyn Ashford prior to the sprinter's winning two gold medals for the U. S. in the 1984 Olympics. Both women mature individually and as a team before reaching this goal. The first-person narrative gives texture to the story and includes issues concerning the coach/athlete relationship as well as providing information about training and racing strategies, which broadens the book's appeal. Some readers will be fascinated with details of illegal payoffs and contract negotiations with sports-shoe companies; others will enjoy considering the dynamics of an athlete balancing her career, her education, and her interpersonal relationships. The down side of Connolly's effort is apparent too. She lacks experience as a writer and is, of course, less than objective about her subject. The result is artificial dialogue and important issues that seem to spring from nowhere (e.g., Ashford's seemingly abrupt accusations of racism on her white coach's part) and are then left unresolved. Despite these shortcomings, Connolly provides an insider's view of some exciting years of track history, including the U. S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics, the emergence of respect for female athletes, the evolution of new rules governing the payment of athletes, and the controversy over steroid use. Plagued by poor focus and busy backgrounds, the black-and-white photographs aren't of star quality. Even so, they are useful for identifying unfamiliar objects and drills for readers. All photos of Ashford in motion illustrate, far better than words ever could, the fine-tuning and grit of athletic determination. --Liza Bliss, Leominster Public Library, MA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
An unusual, coach's-eye view of small, shy Evelyn Ashford, the dominant sprinter of the late 70's and early 80's. Despite the sometimes awkward prose (``Eugene was a dangerous place for anyone who was allergic to the numerous pollens in the air''), Connolly has a gift for making even the most routine workouts sound intriguing and gives a clear idea of a coach's multiple roles: not just physical and psychological conditioner but parent, buddy, even business manager. Herself a former Olympian, Connolly describes her innovative training techniques in general terms, plus giving many instances of sexism, racism, and financial irregularity in the world of ``amateur'' track and field; she also takes a passionate stand against drugs and steroids. Ashford comes across as rather passive and biddable off the track but totally different in competition: a day after miscarrying, she won an important race and later (1984) earned a gold medal despite a massively torn muscle. Ashford and Connolly severed formal ties after those games; aside from a very short epilogue, that's where this frank, engaging book ends. (Biography. 13-16) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.