BBC World News Examines Athletes' Quest For Perfection in Faster, Higher, Stronger: Stories of the Olympic Games
World premiere of new four part series beings on 30th June 2012
PROGRAMME ONE: THE 100 METRES
The 100 metres final is the history of the most anticipated and hyped event in any Olympics. Telling the story of a hundred years of sprinting it reveals how this must see event of the Games has been run faster and faster – from a time of 12 seconds in 1896 to Usain Bolt's world record winning time of 9.69 in 2008.
The programme breaks the 100m final down into phases to reveal the challenges there are to winning the race from start to finish. First how runners come out of the blocks after the starting gun, then the skills needed to sprint at speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, and how the greatest champions negotiate the drama of the finishing line.
Combining vivid eyewitness testimony and analysis from expert commentators such as Michael Johnson, the programme uses cutting edge filming techniques with a brilliant archive of historic races to show how the greatest sprinters have made the 100m the most electrifying event in any sport.
Included are interviews with gold medal winners over the past 60 years. Eighty-seven year-old Harrison Dillard tells the story of winning gold at the last London Games, Wembley Stadium in 1948. Jim Hines explains how he ran the first 100 metres under ten seconds in Mexico City. And Donovan Bailey reveals how he broke the world record at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
PROGRAMME TWO: GYMNASTICS
This programme tells the history of extraordinary Gymnastic genius at the Olympics from the Melbourne Games of 1956 to the Beijing Games of 2008. It is an exploration of how the greatest of gymnasts have used each Olympic Games to search for ever greater daring, danger, skill and beauty in their ambition to win Gold medals. This is the story of a never ending pursuit of perfection during Olympic competition -on the floor and high on the apparatus.
The programme includes interviews with gymnasts who have provided the most magical and memorable moments in Olympic history. Olga Korbut reveals the pleasure and the pain of becoming a television star at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Nadia Comaneci explains how as a 14-year-old she achieved the first ever ten out of ten at an Olympics during the 1976 Montreal Games.
It also includes contributions from those whose brilliance defined Gymnastics both before and after these iconic performers from the 1970s. Gymnasts from the former Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, Japan and China remember their experiences of winning gold at the Olympics and how they pushed their sport further and further to greater technical difficulty.
One Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska relives the protest she made at the invasion of her country during the 1968 Olympic Games. Another Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto recounts the extraordinary story of how he competed with a broken knee to ensure his team won gold at the 1976 Montreal Games.
PROGRAMME THREE: 1500 METRES
Since the modern Games began in Athens in 1896, the 1500m has always been the “Blue Riband” event of any Olympics. It is also this compelling race which provided Great Britain with its finest hour on the athletics track. During the 1500 final at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 three British legends competed for Gold – Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram. Over three and three quarter laps of the track, Coe battled to reclaim the gold medal he had first won four years earlier. He became the only man in history to win this event twice.
The programme tells not only the drama of LA in 1984 but the fascinating history of the 1500m at the Olympics. It reveals the extraordinary demands and skills needed to win this celebrated track event. And shows how great 1500m gold medal winners have always had the stamina of marathon runners, the explosive speed of sprinters and astute tactical brains.
The Olympic 1500m has always had a worldwide appeal, attracting the most creative, innovative and exceptional athletes. This episode explores the many and varied environments that have helped to shape the greatest 1500m runners – from the forests of Finland to the beaches of Australia, from the back streets of the UK to the high altitude training camps of Kenya and Morocco.
The programme combines unique archive footage, period reconstruction and stunning location filming from across the World with exclusive interviews with the greatest Olympians to run the 1500m. Former champions Kipchoge Keino, Herb Elliot, Peter Snell, Sebastian Coe and the current world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj, all give vivid first-hand accounts of winning 1500m gold at the Olympics.
PROGRAMME FOUR: SWIMMING
This programme tells the story of how four strokes came to dominate competitive swimming at the modern Games and allowed races to be won with faster and faster times. In telling the evolution of the front crawl, back stroke, breast stroke and butterfly, the programme tells the history of Olympic swimming from its beginnings in chilly outdoors waterways to the warmer controlled environment of the London 2012 Aquatics centre.
Over 100 years of Olympic Games, the story reveals the surprising and unknown history of the swimming strokes we now take for granted. How the front crawl was first developed in Australia after a Solomon Islander first introduced the stroke from the rough seas of the Pacific. How the Butterfly grew out of the breaststroke but only after swimmers began swimming the older, more sedate stroke with a double over arm action to go faster.
The programme combines cutting edge filming techniques, period reconstruction and unique archive footage from the very earliest Olympics onwards. It includes interviews with great Olympic champions such as Mark Spitz, Dawn Fraser and Ian Thorpe and contributions from British medal winners Sharron Davies, David Wilkie and Adrian Moorhouse.