Fantastically Great Women Sports Stars and their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Sports Stars and their Stories

By Author / Illustrator

Kate Pankhurst


Biographies & Autobiographies

Age range(s)



Bloomsbury Children's Books




Paperback / softback




Travel to Greece and watch Cynisca, a Spartan princess, become the first ever woman to win at the ancient Olympic Games. Or touch the heavens with Junko Tabei as she carves her path through history and mountain ranges with little applause but a lot of bravery.

In this book Kate Pankhurst, descendant of Emmeline Pankhurst, tells the fascinating stories of some of history's most talented female sports stars.  From football superstars to trailblazing Olympians, women throughout history have fought for the right to take part, win or lose, in sports across the globe. Whether they were making impassioned pleas for support on the football pitch, or working behind the scenes to set up rival games when the Olympics said 'NO', these women are all sporting heroes.

Including diary entries, postcard messages, maps and more, Fantastically Great Women Sports Stars and Their Stories is a celebration of just some of the women whose tenacity and skill have made a mark on the world. A fantastic gift for girls and boys alike!

Women featured includes: Cynisca, Charlotte 'Lottie' Dod, Alice Milliat, Junko Tabei, Derartu Tulu, Marta Vieira da Silva, Ellie Simmonds and Simone Biles.



Racial prejudice, stereotyping, parental or societal expectations, disadvantage, 'disability' - all these have presented obstacles to success to women down the ages. But there have always been those who have risen to the challenge; whose courage and determination is truly inspiring.

Fantastically Great Women Sports Stars and their Stories, Kate Pankhurst's latest in the 'Great Women' series, shines the spotlight on eight female sporting stars from Cynisca of Sparta 3,000 years ago to modern day celebrities such as Simone Biles and Derartu Tulu. Others are also given a shorter mention, whether in the main biographical chapters or at the end of the book (where there is also a glossary and list of further reading).

Things to love about this paperback: its easy-to-read style and presentation; its humorous text and equally humorous illustrations; the author's choice of subjects (not just well-known names, but those from the global south and Asia); and its honesty (the path to achievement isn't depicted as glorious, nor is award-winning claimed as the only worthy goal). I particularly enjoyed reading about the Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei.

Readers may not remember all the many facts contained in these pages, but they will retain an enduring sense that no girl, no woman, need think their dreams are beyond reach. Indeed, boys will find much here that will spur them on, even if they simply become their female friends' biggest cheerleaders.

A book to be used in assemblies and for displays (linking perhaps to school values), as well as to be enjoyed by individual borrowers in KS2 (ages 7+) . Highly recommended.

200 pages / Reviewed by Jane Rew, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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