Chris Cleave

Kate and Zoe are friends but also ardent rivals - athletes at the top of their game, fighting to compete in the world's greatest sporting contest. Each scarred by tragedy, and each with a great deal to lose, they must choose between family and glory and ask themselves: what will I sacrifice? Gold captures the extraordinary effort and dedication that go into the pursuit of victory. But this life-affirming novel is about more than sport. It is about human endurance, motherhood and love, and what enables us all, in our different ways, to achieve the remarkable. Once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish...

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Richard and Judy ask Chris Cleave

Gold - writing diary



Chris Cleave sat down to write Gold a year before the 2012 London Olympics. He researched it for many months before that.

Rarely has a novelist more cannily predicted a public mood; obsession even. As the afterglow of those historic Olympics continues to warm hearts, Gold delves into the inner lives and minds of those who would strive for glory.

His chosen arena is the Velodrome, which in Gold assumes the status and importance of the ancient Roman Coliseum. What drives young people to cast aside almost every aspect of normal life – social, sexual, recreational – in pursuit of what at times seems like an impossible dream? What keeps their hopes of glory burning bright during gruelling training rides in the foulest weather, far from the prospect of deliriously cheering crowds and a global audience of billions?

During his research, Cleave tried to simulate some of what the would-be Olympic cyclists do. He cycled and trained with them, on the road and in the Velodrome.

‘With every turn of the pedals I was more and more in awe of the champions,’ he says. ‘There are barriers of physical and emotional pain which they can push through and I cannot. They are extremely brave people, and I feel it is important to record some of their real achievements here.’

He has done so, in a thrilling and quite literally heart-pounding story. The drive to succeed demands many sacrifices, with no guarantees at the end of them. The single-mindedness required to qualify for an Olympic games, let alone stand on the winners’ podium, is almost superhuman.

You’ll never look at an Olympic champion in quite the same way again.


Kate and Zoe are friends. They are also rivals. Both are world-class racing cyclists, who have devoted years of training and dedication to their sport. Both are potentially gold medal winners.

But only one of them falls pregnant.

Gold is a fascinating examination of how real life intersects with a champion’s life; especially a woman champion’s life.

Kate has been preparing for Olympic glory for eighteen years. Since she was six, she dreamed of winning gold. Her training partner is Zoe, and as the pair of them approach the Athens Olympics of 2008, it is Kate who has the edge. She has beaten her friend in almost every major competition.

And then Sophie arrives. Sophie, the result of Kate’s slowly developing pregnancy that will rule her out of the biggest game of them all. Sophie, whose father is one of the fastest five male cyclists in the world. Sophie, who by the time the London Olympics are approaching, has been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of leukaemia.

This is the backdrop against which Chris Cleave’s muscular, dynamic tale unfolds. It is about passion and obsession and jealousy and commitment and shines a revealing light into the usually enclosed, shrouded world of the Olympians.

The pace of the book is fast and furious, and emotions and adrenalin levels run high throughout. We guarantee that when you reach the final page, you’ll cross the finishing line thoroughly out of breath.

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  • Not my favourite Chris Cleave book, I would give it 6 out 0f 10

    Karen L S

  • Loved this book. So much more than a story of Olympic athletes. I have read The Other Hand and Incendiary and by far thought Gold superior. The final chapters were thrilling, emotional and unforgettable. A great read


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