Jonathan Melville: This sporting life’s OK on screen

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IN case you hadn’t heard, it’s the Summer of Sport, with Wimbledon, the Olympics and the Paralympics just some of the events uniting 60 million Brits in support of world class athletes.

While I get the fact that they train hard and that people like to support them by buying bars of chocolate with Team GB printed on them, I personally have no interest in any of it.

The same doesn’t necessarily stretch to sports-related films, though it does take more effort than usual to make me watch one.

Take the recent documentary Senna, featuring footage of F1 racing driver Ayrton Senna up until his untimely death in 1994. I might not watch motor racing but Senna’s life was as interesting as any scripted drama, making it a worthwhile experience.

Another favourite of mine is 1962’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, which focuses on a young tearaway, Colin (Tom Courtenay), as he’s sent to a borstal and starts to use his athletic prowess for the benefit of the establishment...up to a point.

I recently discovered the 1986 Gene Hackman basketball drama, Best Shot, which follows an India High School team as they try to win the state championship. Hackman is as good as ever and watching the characters around him grow brought it to life.

On the big screen, this week sees the re-release of 1981’s Oscar winning Chariots of Fire in Edinburgh cinemas, while a number of sports documentaries are being shown at Filmhouse in their Let the Games Begin season.

So good luck to Team GB, I’m sure I’ll catch the highlights on the news when I emerge from a darkened cinema or switch the DVD player off. I can’t wait.

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