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Sprint on Netflix: Interesting But...

Updated: Jul 6

By now most Netflix subscribers have seen the notification about a new six-part docuseries on "elite" sprinters. The new docuseries was created by the team behind Drive to Survive (another docuseries on Netflix), SPRINT follows the lives of selected top athletes such as Sha'Carri Richardson, Fred Kerley, Gabby Thomas, Noah Lyles, Marcell Jacobs, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson as they navigate their private and public lives – on and off the track – as never seen before.

Unveiling the drama behind the dash for glory, this series dives deep into the world of elite sprinters. Witness the intense rivalries, grueling training, and personal struggles as they vie for global dominance in the 100m and 200m. Every millisecond counts in this exhilarating realm where the journey unfolds across prestigious Wanda Diamond League meets, all culminating at the pinnacle event: the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. There was also occasional commentary by the coaches and other legends like Micheal Johnson, Allyson Felix and others.

Granted it was an interesting series and very much American top-tier entertainment reality television with all the hype and drama. Great quality and a captivating storyline. What intrigues me is how much mental gymnastics is involved before the sprinters hit the tracks. It seemed as though the races were won in their minds and to be such a star athlete on the world stage, you needed to be mentally fit as much as the physical training. That was particularly a challenge for Zharnel Hughes and Marcell Jacobs. Evidently, these athletes were physically on par with the Americans, but the mental belief remained a challenge relative to the Americans, namely Sha'Carri Richardson and Noah Lyles.

Credit to the Jamaicans and the MVP club which had fewer training resources compared to Americans but nobody could ever doubt the level of sprint excellence these Jamaicans brought to the tracks. We have grown to love Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah as much as love Usian Bolt but there is Shericka Jackson (never forget that name). The other thing was the remarkable journey of Zharnel Hughes after the first false start incident which impacted subsequent events that followed but credit to him for how much fight he put in.

To an extent, I agree with Usain Bolt that Lyles would need to work harder to beat the world record and Noah also admitted that his goal was eventually to win because it was evident that the pressure to break a standing record could be mentally demanding as Shericka Jackon also admitted in attempt to break Flo Jo's 200 meters.

That being said I am wondering why this was only focused on selected elite athletes when it was clear even from the series that there were other global stars on the track who deserved a spot in that docuseries. There is Ferdinand Omanyala from Kenya, Andre DeGrasse from Canada, Letsile Tebogo from Bostwana and Marie-Josee Ta Lou from Ivory Coast. Since it was about sprinting, where are the hurdle champions? Why was Nigeria's Tobi Amusan missing from those in the series? Why was only a single male British athlete featured? or how about the likes of Yohan Blake? Fred Kerley, who was unimpressed by the docuseries already called it a "YouTube doc".

I expected more from the series to include athletes from all over the world because if this was released on the heels of the coming Paris 2024 Olympics, then, this was just too narrow a casting to feature. The stakes at the Olympics are higher and including more athletes in the cast would have given the series more credibility instead of just a select few who clearly understand what is ahead on such a world stage. Some of those featured are first-time Olympians and no one would deny the hard work they constantly put in to be top of this game.

Well, my eyes will be peeled and stuck to my TV for all the sprinting events at the Paris Olympics. I will be on the lookout for every star featured in that series as well as other good sprinters who were left out of this docuseries. To be fair, whoever funds these docuseries dictates the tone. No arguments here.

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