8 Documentaries About Olympians To Watch Before Paris 2024

By Alizeh Khatau

2 weeks ago

Thrilling watching for sports fans


Whether you are an athlete, a games enthusiast or just an idle watcher every four years, the Olympics is a riveting time for all. With the world’s most talented individuals gathering to represent their countries and fight for a medal after four years of gruelling training, it’s almost time to see the best of the best compete in history’s most prestigious sporting competition, kicking off in Paris on Friday 26 July 2024. Until then, why not brush up on your knowledge with some documentaries about Olympians? We’ve gathered eight of our favourites, giving you an insight into the rise of the legends, the fall of others, and some of the sad truths about the Olympics.

8 Best Documentaries About Olympians

1.  

Mo Farah: No Easy Mile (2016)

This 2016 documentary delves the life of national treasure, Mo Farah, analysing how his extreme talent, hard work and determination lifted him out of war-torn Somalia to not one but four Olympic wins. Through intimate interviews with family and teammates, Mo opens the door to his life, narrating his emotional journey from devastation to a gold medal win.

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2.  

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (2016)

If you’re looking for a deep dive into American prejudice in the Olympics, this is the documentary to go for. This documentary offers a unique look into the lives of the 17 Black American athletes who competed alongside Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, but who are often forgotten by history. In 1936, these talented athletes were overlooked, receiving very little coverage – and, unfortunately, none of the men were alive at the time of the documentary’s production, so cannot speak for themselves. Instead, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice draws on conversations with the athletes’ family members as well as audio footage from historical interviews and articles from the time to tell their story.

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3.  

Icarus (2017)

Fancy delving into the truth behind Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping? This 2017 documentary apprises the story of Bryan Fogel, a filmmaker who initially set out to investigate performance enhancing drugs in cycling, but instead ended up uncovering a major international scandal.

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4.  

The Simone Biles Story: Courage To Soar (2023)

This film chronicles the sacrifices Olympian Simone Biles has made and the obstacles she has faced on her journey to becoming the most decorated American gymnast of all time. In the pursuit of her dreams of becoming an elite gymnast, Biles surrenders the life of a normal teenager, saying goodbye to parties, prom and football games.

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5.  

Oscar Pistorius: Track Star On Trial (2023)

Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius gained worldwide attention and praise for his athletic achievements that all came crashing down in 2013. Oscar Pistorius: Track Star On Trail presents the story of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot by boyfriend Pistorius on Valentines day. The South African sprinter was arrested and charged with murder the following day, and what followed was a polarising trial. Track Star on Trial also explores the couples’ personal lives and exposes the possible underlying issues that may have led to her tragic murder.

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6.  

The Wall: Climb For Gold (2022)

This documentary focusses on four female climbers desperate to compete in their first ever Olympic climbing competition. Janja, Shauna, Brooke and Miho battle through tough qualifying events to earn their place in Tokyo, then watch as the Covid-19 pandemic brings their dreams crashing down. The gruelling season of training and competition is interrupted, forcing the four women to confront their own physical and mental demons. The Wall: Climb For Gold offers a confounding and inspiring insight into the reality of what it means to be an Olympian and, ultimately, what it means to be human.

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7.  

Underwater: Federica Pellegrini (2022)

Underwater documents Olympic swimming Frederica Pellegrini speaking candidly about her life as she strives for her fifth Olympics, spanning the rudimentary moments of her early life and career to working tirelessly to become the first female swimmer to qualify for five consecutive finals in the same speciality.

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8.  

Waterman (2021)

Five time Olympic medalist and native Hawaiian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku disintegrates records and introduces surfing to the world in a whole new light in Waterman, all the while prevailing over a lifetime of personal changes. Waterman spans Kahanamoku’s journey and legacy as a swimmer, trailblazer and father of modern day surfing, culminating in the sports’ debut in the Olympics.

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