Faster, Higher, Stronger: 5 Documentaries To Learn More About The Oympics, its History and its Controversies - Arts & Culture

From Hidilyn Diaz’s journey to the last the games were held in Tokyo—here are five Olympic-themed documentaries to help you kickstart the events from home.

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After a year of pandemic-related delays, the Tokyo Olympics is finally commencing today. But beyond watching your favorite sporting events, you might want to ride the wave by looking into what the games is all about.

Here are five Olympic documentaries you can watch while you wait for your next anticipated match. From films that capture real issues athletes face like illegal doping and sexual harassment to docuseries that capture Hidilyn Diaz’s preparation despite the pressure on her shoulders, you can immerse yourself in these narratives to amplify the Olympics high.

Tokyo Olympaid (1966)

With Tokyo being this year’s Olympic Games host, you might want to watch the story of how the events went the last time the Japanese capital welcomed the world. In Tokyo Olympaid, award-winning director Kon Ichikawa follows events from opening to closing ceremonies. Periodically, he focuses on an entire race, as athletes prepare for a game until we see who wins the gold. In other emotion-fueled scenes, you’ll see spectators cheering as athletes pass by with focus and concentration. 

The documentary offers a holistic view of what goes on during the Games. With that, Ichikawa encapsulates the quote that begins the two-hour film, “the Olympics are a symbol of human aspiration.”

You can watch Tokyo Olympiad on the Olympic’s official Youtube channel here.

Icarus (2017)

If Super Size Me was a first-person investigation of fast food’s impact on Morgan Spurlock’s heath, Bryan Fogel probes illegal doping in sports through Icarus. Fogel, the documentary’s director, and an amateur cyclist go on rounds of PED and testosterone injections similar to Lance Armstrong’s porhibited doping program.

At the beginning of the Oscar-winning documentary, Fogel is filmed experimenting with doping to see if the drug would increase his agility, stamina, and cycling abilities. As the investigative story progresses, Fogel begins exploring Russia’s doping scandals, their new anti-doping protocols and talks to the head of the Soviet country’s anti-doping program Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov.

You can stream Icarus on Netflix.

Let’s Go HD! (2021)

Our very own Hidilyn Diaz shares the highs and lows of her preparation for this year’s Olympics in the four-part docuseries. The weightlifting champion won the Philippines a historic silver medal at the 2018 Rio Olympics and set her sights on winning gold in the Tokyo 2020 event. However, the idea of achieving such a goal comes with pressure from a whole nation.

In the first episode of the series, Diaz says, “kinakabahan ako na everytime na narinig ko na ‘gold na yan’ – naisip ko na kailangan ko embrace na ito ang destiny ko, kailangan ko i-claim para manalo ako.” 

You can watch Let’s Go HD to see how the 30-year-old athlete trained amidst the pandemic, what keeps her motivated, and boost support for our Filipino Olympic representative.

You can watch Let’s Go HD on Facebook here.

Athlete A (2020)

From 2020, the USA women’s gymnastics team boasts 32 bronze, 38 silver, and 34 gold Olympic medals. However, shockingly, 500 of these young athletes are also survivors of sexual abuse. In the documentary directed by Bonni Cohen and John Shenk, Athlete A follows the reporters of Indianapolis Star as they break the news on offender Dr. Larry Nassar.

You can stream Athlete A on Netflix.

First (2017)

The official film of the London 2021 Olympics follows the journey of 12 first-time Olympians. From a Judo fighter to a cyclist and a boxer to a BMX rider, you can know stories from being young student-athletes to finally achieving their goal as athletic representatives of their respective countries.

You can purchase to watch First here.

Banner photo from @hidilyndiaz on Instagram.

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