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Ten unmissable long reads from 2017

My idol turned out to be my sister

Jennifer Bricker, image courtesy of Baker Publishing Group; Dominique Moceanu, Getty Images

Aerial performer Jennifer Bricker was born without legs, but she never let it stop her. By the age of 11 she was a gymnastics champion - having fallen in love with the sport after watching Dominique Moceanu win a gold medal for the US at the 1996 Olympics. And it turned out the two had a lot more in common than athletic talent.

Read: My idol turned out to be my sister

Listen: The secret link between two gymnasts

The dog who saved my life and came to live with me

Jeff De Young served in Afghanistan with a bomb-detection dog named Cena N641, a black Labrador. In the intense atmosphere of war the two developed an unbreakable bond. This is the story of how Cena helped Jeff survive not only war, but also life after war.

Read The dog who saved my life and came to live with med

Listen: 'When the days got really tough, I would cry into him'

I was a neo-Nazi until I fell in love with a black woman

Angela King Credit: Mark Seliger / Life After Hate

She was a violent white supremacist. But an encounter in prison changed her life forever.

Read: I was a neo-Nazi. Then I fell in love with a black woman

Listen: Covering my racist tattoos

The extraordinary life of a 91-year-old beauty queen

Krystyna Farley Credit: Brian Finke

Krystyna Farley is a 91-year-old beauty pageant queen in the US state of Connecticut, but her life was not always this glamorous. Although she grew up in a loving home in rural Poland, her childhood was cut short by the outbreak of war.

Read: The extraordinary life of a 91-year-old beauty queen

Listen: The senior beauty queen who survived a labour camp

The horse that saved his own life by painting

Metro in his studio Credit: Zach Young

He was once a well-known racehorse, but it looked as though ill health would soon mean the end for Metro. Then his artist owner, Ron, had an unusual idea.

Read: The horse that saved his own life by painting

Listen: How a horse learned to paint

How an autistic child became world pinball champion

Robert Gagno

Pinball champion Robert Gagno says having autism has made him a better player. But it's also true that playing pinball has helped him live with autism.

Read: How an autistic child became world pinball champion

Listen: The pinball champion defying expectations

How one man built a $51m theme park for his daughter

Morgan and Gordon Hartman Credit: Gordon Hartman Family Foundation

A father from Texas realised there were no theme parks where his disabled daughter could play. So he decided to build one.

Read: How one man built a $51m theme park for his daughter

Listen: What made us build our own waterpark

How I saved big cats by introducing ‘magic dogs’

Amy Dickman with two of her big cats Credit: Amy Dickman

My son died in 1994 but his heart only stopped beating this year

Nicholas Green, a few days before he was murdered in a case of mistaken identity Credit: Reg Green

On the night of 29 September 1994, seven-year-old Nicholas Green was fatally shot during a family holiday in southern Italy. The death was a tragedy for his parents, Reg and Maggie, but their decision to donate his organs caused organ donation rates in Italy to triple in a decade - a result dubbed the "Nicholas effect".

Read: My son died in 1994 but his heart only stopped beating this year

Listen: My child's heart stopped beating decades after he died

The jockey who raced again after reading his own obituary

Declan Murphy riding for the first time after his near fatal accident. Credit: Phil Cole/Getty Images

When National Hunt jockey Declan Murphy suffered a disastrous fall at Haydock Park in 1994, after winning all the major races that season, the Racing Post published his obituary. But as he explains here, a furious determination got him back in the saddle.

Read: The jockey who raced again after reading his own obituary

Listen: The jockey who cheated death