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5 greatest Olympic Games documentaries 

Jesse Owens Poses With Gold Medals
Jesse Owens Poses With Gold Medals
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Paul Thomas

The Olympic Games are unique and are one the oldest sporting events in the world. Although the modern Olympic Games were first held in Greece in 1896, the Games are as ancient as mythology.

The ancient Greeks held the Olympics in honor of their gods, especially Zeus. According to Aristotle, the first Olympic Games dates back to 776 BC.

READ: Simone Biles: 5 things you didn't know about the US gymnastics star

There is so much more that happens around the Olympics. There are stories surrounding each and every Games that have been held - stories about athletes, social and cultural narratives, about struggle and victory and much more.

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, we look at the five greatest Olympic Games documentaries to watch.

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Top five greatest Olympic Games documentaries

#1 ‘More Than Gold: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics’

The legacy of Jesse Owens transcends track and field. His story is not just about the sport but about racial discrimination, world war, a world threatened by Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, 'More Than Gold: Jesse Owns and the 1936 Berlin Olympics', it is an hour-long documentary on one of the greatest and most famous track and field athletes in the world.

Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but the documentary tells the story of the black athlete’s struggle back in the US, where he found himself running against race horses to make money.

The documentary stars his 1936 Olympic teammates Adolph Kiefer and Iris Cummings Critchell, canoeist John Lysak and Owens’ three daughters.

#2 The Stand

Fifty years after US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised the iconic fist salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, a 90-minute documentary narrated by none other than Serena Williams, shares the story of the gesture.

It was a politically charged and turbulent time in the US. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated almost five years after former President John F. Kennedy was. The Vietnam War was still on, Soviet Union troops suppressed the Prague Spring, and protests raged in North America and Europe. Ten days before the Games, government troops in Mexico City opened fire on demonstrators and protesters.

The 1968 Olympic Games became the centerstage for athletes not only from the US but Czechoslovakia. At the 200m victory ceremony podium, US athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved fists. It was a statement against racial discrimination. Smith and Carlos were later suspended and sent back home from the Games.


The forgotten story of Vera Caslavska and her protest against Soviet Union

Protesting against the Soviet Union invasion of Prague, Vera Caslavska stood looking away from the flag during the medal ceremony.

Ahead of the Olympic Games, Caslavska was forced into hiding when the Prague Spring was on. She was afraid that she would be arrested by the Soviet Union troops as she was vocal about her dislike of Soviet rule.

Not only that, two months short of the Games, Caslavska had to prepare ‘using a log as a makeshift balance beam and shoveling coal to toughen up her hands for the rigors of the apparatus’, according to BBC.

#3 'Nadia Comaneci: The Gymnast And The Dictator'

Nadia Comaneci became a household name when she scored the perfect 10, becoming the first gymnast to do so in Games history at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

However, not everything was perfect about her life. The documentary is about the former Romanian gymnast, a winner of three gold medals at 1976 Montreal Olympics, living under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu and abandoning her country for the US in 1989.

#4 Warrior Champions

The documentary is about four US soldiers - Iraq War veterans Kortney Clemons, Scott Winkler, Melissa Stockwell, and Carlos Leon - and their journey from losing limbs and paralysis to becoming Olympians and participating at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Made by Brent and Craig Renaud, the filmmakers follow the 39th Battalion from Arkansas and their journey as a unit at war — including their entire deployment period.

#5 I Am Bolt

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet and the documentary captures the Jamaican’s history-making story from the beaches to the Olympic Games. The documentary follows Bolt from nightclubs, his inner battles and struggles, his unguarded emotions and time spent at home, his time with coach and becoming the fastest man in the history games.

Viewers get to hear from his parents, agent, coaches, fellow athletes, and from the sprint legend himself.


Edited by Rohit Mishra
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