I am Bolt: the inside track

  • Film
I am Bolt: the inside track


Thu, 24/11/2016 - 17:20


Usain Bolt in I Am Bolt, made by Camden Town-based Ben and Gabe Turner.
Usain Bolt in I Am Bolt, made by Camden Town-based Ben and Gabe Turner.
24 November, 2016

Certificate PG

SUPERMAN really does exist. He is not the figment of a comic book creator’s imagination. He is alive and well and we are lucky enough now that two brothers who grew up in Belsize Park have managed to persuade this extraordinary person to let them hang out with him and share with the world what makes Usain Bolt such a superb athlete.

Ben and Gabe Turner, of Fulwell 73, a Camden Town-based film company, have previous: they were behind the extraordinary social documentary In The Hands Of The Gods, the story of the football freestylers who busked their way to Argentina to meet their idol Diego Maradona, and The Class of ’92, the story of how a group of youngsters matured into the triple-winning Manchester United team of 1999.

Now they tell the story of Bolt, charting his rise as the most complete athlete in the history of sprint events, and give us a brilliantly watchable insider’s view of the work he does, building up to the record-smashing third Olympic Gold he won in Rio.

Packed with brilliant one-to-ones with the fastest man on the planet (and a wicked soundtrack), we see his early years, and frank talking from his coach, Glen Mills: “He’s a nice guy, a good guy, but I have to let you know he’s not always easy to coach. Sometimes I have to say, I am in charge!”

We discover Bolt had a serious ankle injury in the build-up to Rio, which meant he couldn’t train for two months – something kept secret at the time, and that for other athletes would have been a disaster. Mills’ response is laced with humour. “I have a fat athlete here,” he says.

“You have to work off your belly fat...you’re there, laying on your back – you’re going to have to reduce your meals and it’s time to say: no party-going.”

We’re also treated to walk-on parts by the likes of Pele, Neymar, Serena Williams, Ziggy Marley and the Reggae star Chronixx.

The Turners are film-makers extraordinaire: their trick is to take such a sporting tale and make it something more. It helps, of course, that Bolt himself is a hugely likeable character, and the people around him are great interviewees. It also helps that he has a fascinating backstory set in Jamaica. But they also bring us a parable about human attainment, about what motivates, inspires and, above all, about how talent reaches its pinnacle through sheer bloody hard work. With exclusive access – Bolt was seen pointing directly at Gabe in the Rio stadium as he crossed the line to win the 100 metres gold, which shows how he considered these two film-makers – you get the impression this is as far removed from a PR-guided documentary as you could want. 

Hats off to them. 

This will be seen as an important story up there with David Remnick or Norman Mailer’s books on Muhammad Ali. 

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