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Seven Of The Most Inspirational Sports Documentaries

When you need that extra push to keep going...

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1. Senna

A story about legendary Brazilian motor-racing champion, Ayrton Senna, captures his monumental life and tragic death. The film follows his arrival into Formula 1 racing, his greatest wins, and his struggles with his nemesis, Alain Prost, a French motor-racing world champion. Privately, Senna was known to be humble, almost shy, and fiercely patriotic; he donated millions to his country. He even thought about live beyond racing, however his life was cut tragically cut short at the age of 34 in a fatal car accident during a race which was being watched by 300 million people. He is remembered as one of the greater Formula 1 drivers and a saint in Brazil.

2. Murderball

This documentary film is about the courage of wheelchair bound athletes who stand up against the odds to fulfill their dreams. As competitive and relentless as any other athletes, the players are awe inspiring. The documentary focuses on the athletes of the quad rugby US team who took part in the 2004 Paralympics. It follows the athletes from their training till they make their appearance in the event. The reasons for their disabilities are varied but they are united by the passion for the sport. Having high spirits they go against all odds to attempt victory. The game shows the rivalry, competitiveness and bravery of the players. Although they are wheelchair bound but their spirits soar high and they put on a courageous battle at the hard court.

3. Hoop Dreams

Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominately white suburban school well-known for the excellence of its basketball program. Unable to pay an unexpected bill for tuition fees, Arthur has to withdraw and go to the local public high school. The film follows them through their four years of high school and their trials and tribulations: injuries, slumps and the never ending battle to maintain their grades. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship.

4. Undefeated

Since its founding in 1899, Manassas High School in North Memphis has never had a football team win a playoff game. In 2004, former high-school coach Bill Courtney offers to help turn the Manassas Tigers around. When Courtney arrived, the Tigers were accustomed to timeworn equipment and a sorry patch of lawn as a practice field. Nurturing his players' physical and emotional strengths, Courtney's efforts pay off in 2009, when the Tigers, led by their star player O.C., seem to have a chance to break their school's 110-year losing streak and finally win a playoff game.

5. The U

The image of the University of Miami, a predominantly white school, was forever changed when coach Howard Schnellenberger scoured some of the toughest ghettos in Florida to recruit mostly black players for his team. With a newly branded swagger, inspired and fueled by the quickly growing local Miami hip-hop culture, these Hurricanes took on larger-than-life personalities and won four national titles between 1983 and 1991.

6. When We Were Kings

This documentary showcases one of the most famous boxing events – the heavyweight fight between champion George Foreman and contender Muhammad Ali. At this time, Ali had not reached the peak of his popularity. Meanwhile, George Foreman was seen as fearsome and formidable. No one believe that Ali stood a chance. However, Ali relied on his classic ‘Rope-a-Dope’ strategy, where he essentially waited and took punches for most of the fight. By the eighth round, Foreman was tired and exhausted, at which point Ali exploded and aimed for the head. The result was astonishing – an exquisite victory that nobody expected. It also focuses on Ali’s persona and resolve. He was the heavyweight champion when the USA were fighting in Vietnam. He refused to join the war and paid a heavy price for it: he was stripped of his title and lost his boxing license. He was referred to as a coward, but he stuck to his convictions. Despite everything, Ali maintained his joy and charisma and became a world renowned activist.

7. At All Costs

This documentary explores how the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball machine has professionalized youth basketball in America. As the business of youth basketball balloons into a multi-billion dollar industry, the stakes for finding “the next big thing” have never been higher. The film follows blue-chip high-school recruits, their families and their AAU programs as they travel the country playing in marquee tournaments, competing against top-tier athletes, all fighting to make it to the next level.

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