Olympics Channel announces new slate of sports docs

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After achieving one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, wrestler Rulon Gardner struggled with his newfound stardom amidst a constant battle with life’s struggles. In Rulon Gardner Won’t Die, Gardner shares his personal journey from his humble roots growing up on a Wyoming farm to finding fame at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 where he defeated three-time Olympic champion Aleksandr Karelin of Russia, and how his resilience has helped him to overcome adversity after the ‘miracle on the mat’ and multiple near-death experiences. Part of the award-winning Five Rings Films documentary series, the Olympic Channel original film will premiere digitally on Wednesday, 3 June at olympicchannel.com and on its apps for mobile and connected TV devices.

Following the release of Rulon Gardner Won’t Die, the Olympic Channel plans to release three additional documentaries over the next year from Five Rings Films, which is produced exclusively for the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) global media platform by Frank Marshall and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM). Marshall, whose producing credits include legendary titles such as “Jason Bourne,” “Jurassic World” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, serves as executive producer alongside MSM’s Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach whose recent credits include “The Last Dance”. Greg Groggel will serve as executive producer for the Olympic Channel.

Five Rings Films, the Olympic Channel’s signature documentary series, is a series of incisive and entertaining documentaries directed by some of the biggest names in film from around the world. In addition to depictions of iconic individuals and record-breaking teams, each feature length film showcases the incredible humanity, variety and achievements of the modern Olympic era.

The new slate of Five Rings Films feature documentaries currently in production for release in 2020 and 2021 includes:

  • Rulon Gardner Won’t Die: At the 2000 Olympic Games, Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner beat the world’s most dominant wrestler and three-time reigning Olympic champion, Aleksandr Karelin of Russia. But what came after the ‘miracle on the mat’ was even more unpredictable. Directed by Adam Irving (“Off the Rails”).
  • The Iron Hammer: How trailblazing volleyball icon Lang Ping brought gold to China, left home for adventures abroad, and then returned to save a struggling women’s programme and turn them into Olympic champions.
  • The Distance (Working Title): The story of an enduring Japanese running tradition and a humble Olympic champion named Naoko Takahashi who captured her nation’s imagination with a run for the ages at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000.
  • A Brilliant Curling Story (Working Title): Despite a lack of funding, five unassuming women from Scotland united for a shot at Olympic curling glory – and won the hearts of a nation in the process at the Olympic Games Salt Lake City 2002.

“Frank Marshall and Mike Tollin are among the world’s greatest storytellers and we look forward to sharing the stories of these incredible athletes with the world in the lead up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 hosted in 2021,” said Mark Parkman, general manager of the IOC’s global Olympic Channel. “This ambitious documentary series is a hallmark of our programming efforts to bring Olympic heroes to life outside of the Games themselves.”

“The Olympic Games have a rich history of memorable moments as well as controversial moments, so I’m very excited to be able to tell the incredible stories of Rulon Gardner and other Olympic greats through this inspiring series, which combines my passion for filmmaking with my passion for the Olympics,” said Marshall.

“We’re so proud of this slate,” said Tollin. “These are stories of determination and grit, of overcoming obstacles, and achieving against long odds. These heroes remind us of why we love sports and why the Olympics continue to inspire us.”

Previous released documentaries in the Five Rings Films series include The Nagano Tapes, the inspiring underdog story of the Czech Republic’s stunning gold medal win in men’s ice hockey in 1998 directed by Ondrej Hudecek; The People’s Fighter’s examines Cuba’s boxing culture and highlights the career of the legendary Teofilo Stevenson directed by Peter Berg; and The Golden Generation which spotlights the Argentine Men’s National Team’s historic gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Basketball Tournament directed by Juan Jose Campanella.


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