You might think an hour is too long to devote to an event that lasts just ten seconds but Monday’s opening episode of BBC2 series Faster, Higher, Stronger – Stories of the Olympics Games was a reminder that the history of the 100m has been a marathon not a sprint, with (if you’ll allow me to take this analogy slightly off-piste) more twists and turns than a downhill slalom course.
When current Olympic champion Usain Bolt arrived on the scene with utter disregard for the received wisdom about how a 100m runner should be built, and what he could achieve, it was only the latest in a long line of moments in time that saw records and preconceptions smashed.
Last night’s second instalment, focusing on gymnastics, contained more firsts – Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10 at the Montreal Olympics (which she followed with six more in the same Games) and the only triple backwards somersault in competitive history – as well as stories of genuine heroism, such as that of the last-minute replacement to the Japanese men’s team who helped them win gold by completing two events nursing a shattered knee.
Faster, Higher, Stronger turns its attention to two more big Olympic sports this week – the 1500m tonight, swimming on Thursday night – and is sure to uncover more of those stories you couldn’t make up, each worthy of their own Hollywood treatment.
The disappointingly short series is a reminder that so many of the events we’ll be watching at the London Olympics are the result of generations of athletes breaking records, laying milestones and achieving what was previously thought impossible – and that we’re bound to see history made several times over again this summer…
Faster, Higher, Stronger – Stories of the Olympic Games is on Wendesday and Thursday at 7pm on BBC2 and you can catch up with the episodes you’ve missed on BBC iPlayer