Gold is the third novel from British journalist Chris Cleave. It is a story about courage, determination, sacrifice and compassion.
The story centres around three elite cyclists – Kate, Zoe, and Jack – who are vying for gold at the London Olympic Games. The three athletes first met thirteen years agao at an Elite Prospects Programme in Manchester. The friendship and rivalry that ensues, particularly between Kate and Zoe, is intense to say the least. When the Olympic Committee changes the rules, only one rider from each team is allowed to compete in London. In a tense showdown, Kate and Zoe compete against each other for that place.
Gold shows us how driven elite athletes can be in the pusuit of gold, but it also focusses on the sacrifices athletes can sometimes be forced to make; either to be the best at something, or to have the courage to walk away.
As part of his research, Chris Cleave trained as a cyclist, and the sections of the novel which focus on the training and the competition of bike racing are brilliantly researched and written.
The other part of the story is about 8-year-old Sophie. As the daughter of Jack and Kate, Sophie is also driven in her own way, but she is using this drive to fight against leukaemia. Cleave visited Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as part of his research for the book, and as a result, Sophie’s story is written with tremendous love and compassion. Cleave often writes about children remarkably well, and Gold is no exception.
I absolutely loved Gold, and I think it is my favourite of Cleaves’ novels so far.