Team GB athletes to appear in fly-on-the-wall documentaries in build-up to Paris Games

Keely Hodgkinson - Team GB athletes to appear in fly-on-the-wall documentaries in build-up to Paris Games
Olympic and world 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson is one of the stars of the new Channel 4 documentary - PA/Martin Rickett

Athletics stars headed by Josh Kerr, Keely Hodgkinson, Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock will feature in a new Drive to Survive-style documentary series ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics.

With behind-the-scenes access over the coming months, the two-parter will screen on Channel 4 and peel back the curtain on the unique pressures during one of the most important and intense years in the lives of nine British hopefuls.

Kerr and Hodgkinson both won track medals in Tokyo while Cockroft and Peacock are seeking to add to a respective haul of seven and two previous Paralympic golds.

The fly-on-the-wall documentaries, which are being produced in partnership with the National Lottery, will also feature Kerr’s British 1500 metres rival Jake Wightman and high jumper Morgan Lake alongside 800 metres specialist Hodgkinson in a programme about the Olympic hopefuls.

As well as Cockroft and Peacock, the Paralympic-focused episode will focus on Zak Skinner, Funmi Oduwaiye and Nathan Maguire.

The documentaries will also feature the teams behind the athletes, their training regimes and the highs and lows as they strive first to secure their Team GB places and then hopefully win medals.

After the success for sports like Formula One, tennis, cycling and football with this style of documentary, athletics had been determined to shine a spotlight on some of their leading stars ahead of the Paris Games.

British Athletics has been in financial crisis for several years and raising the profile of some outstanding athletes is critical to their long-term plan.

Kerr recently added the 3,000 metres indoor world title to the outdoor 1500m crown he so memorably won last summer, but has highlighted the lack of prize money in athletics. Olympians and Paralympians are often hugely dependent on the funding they receive via UK Sport from the National Lottery.  Kerr’s two world titles, for example, were worth a combined $110,000 (£86,000).

The darts player Luke Littler recently picked up £250,000 for finishing runner-up in his world championship.

Hodgkinson, who won Olympic silver in Tokyo and world gold last summer, has the potential to become a major star this summer. “Getting to compete at an Olympic Games and representing your country is such a special feeling, but people watching from their TVs at home never see what it takes to reach the start line,” she said. “You don’t see the hours in the gym, the time spent with physiotherapists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning, and our coaches working through our training plans.

“This documentary will give people an insight into how we train, our day-to-day lives before a major competition and the challenges you have to overcome to race against the best in the world. I love my sport and I want to let people see what goes into those few minutes on the track in front of the world.” Peacock added: “This is an incredible opportunity for us as athletes to give people a behind-the-scenes look into what preparation for a Games looks like.” Buckner said that he was “thrilled” that the documentaries would “shine a light on our great sport” ahead of Paris.

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