This week one of the best sports docu-series ever made released its final episode. The Last Dance, which streamed on Netflix, told the story of the Chicago Bulls team that won six NBA championships in eight years. Michael Jordan was the central figure of this documentary, but his story was told through the progress of his team. The Last Dance was so successful because it featured an iconic team and arguably the best person to ever play the sport. Jordan said things like, “Why would I worry about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet?” It’s that kind of confidence and poise that people admire. Inspired by The Last Dance, we narrowed down the top five runners we’d like to see given similar treatment.
Usain Bolt – The fastest man in the world
There have been documentaries made about Bolt, but not in depth. Bolt remains one of the few runners who’s a household name, and he remains the fastest person ever to run the 100m.
Storylines could include: his life growing up, training with Yohan Blake (his friend and greatest competitor), when the Jamaican team he was on was stripped of a medal due to a positive drug test, his failed attempt at a soccer career and the birth of his first child.
Eliud Kipchoge – The man who redefined human capability
Like Bolt, Kipchoge has travelled a particular distance on foot faster than anyone else. The difference between the two is that Kipchoge did something previously considered impossible for human beings. And it resonated with a massive number of people, because they themselves had tried their hand at a marathon and understand just how insanely difficult it must be to cover the distance in under two hours.
Storylines could include: his track career, the years-long battle on the track between him and Kenenisa Bekele, his first road marathons, the failed Nike Breaking2 attempt, carbon-plated shoes, his NN teammates and his relationship with coach Patrick Sang.
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Mary Cain – The woman who changed running culture
Cain was a child prodigy. By 17, she was known to almost every runner on the planet as one of the greatest runners in the business. She would go on to become the youngest American runner to make a world championship team. After a few years of massive success, results went quiet. In 2019, Cain spoke to the New York Times about her experience in the sport and what needed to change.
Storylines could include: her relationship with Alberto Salazar, leaving the Nike Oregon Project, her childhood, her take on the pressure runners feel to be thin, her new beginnings in the sport and her new partnership with Tracksmith.
The Canadian men’s sprinting dynasty – the team that won Olympic gold
The Canadian men won the 1996 Olympic 4 x 100m, just days after Donovan Bailey became the world’s fastest man, winning the Olympic 100m in world-record time. The team of Bruny Surin, Glenroy Gilbet, Robert Esmie and Bailey still hold the Canadian record.
This victory brought the 100m title back to Canada, three Olympics after Ben Johnson was the reigning 100m gold medallist and world record holder for two days. Roughly 48 hours after his 1988 win, Johnson tested positive for the steroid stanozolol, and he was asked to return his gold medal.
Storylines could include: the Bailey win, the team dynamic, Johnson’s reaction and the new Canadian stars in Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown.
Caster Semenya – The woman who was removed from track and field
Semenya, one of the fastest 800m runners ever, was disqualified from running distances of 400m through 3,000m by the then-IAAF, which argued that she was “biologically male,” and therefore ineligible to compete in the women’s field.
Last year, Semenya ran two 5,000m races, posting a PB of 16:05.97, but in 2020, she took to shorter events, opening her season at a 300m race at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Her time of 36.78 seconds was a national record. In March, she competed in the 200m at another race in South Africa, which she won in 23.49. She needs to run a 22.80 to qualify for the South African Olympic team.
Storylines could include: her rise to success, the controversy over her biology, her appeal, the final decision, her soccer career and her return to the track.