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The history of sport is littered with tales of exemplary courage: sportsmen and women pushing their bodies through the pain barrier, or defying career-threatening injuries, in quest of victory. From the goalkeeper who played in a FA Cup Final with a broken neck to the batsman who saved a Test match with his arm in plaster, their heroics have inspired generations of schoolchildren.

But courage is as much a moral as a physical attribute. Some of the most inspiring chapters in sport feature men and women of principle who have challenged authority, fought prejudice or simply had the guts to confess to weaknesses that went against the grain of their profession. Ben Hogan, Jackie Robinson, Marcus Trescothick, Billie-Jean King, Eric Lidell . . . Max Davidson's cavalcade of sporting heroism celebrates virtues that transcend winning and losing -- and explains why sport at its best is so inspirational.

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