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Filmed over four years, PERSONAL BEST follows up-and-coming British sprinters on their journey from the grassroots of athletics to the international stage. The film is both a gripping portrait of the athletes in training and competition, and a deeply personal account of their lives unfolding – revealing victory, defeat, agony, ecstasy and the simple trials of growing up.
On the eve of the 2012 Olympics, this film tells the stories of Britain's young sprinters as they strive towards their dreams. This is an inspiring but genuine portrait of Britain's youth and a penetrating study of the art of sprinting, peeling back the layers so we can finally understand everything it means to them as they wait on the start line for the gun to fire.
Starring James Ellington, Richard Alleyne, Jeanette Kwakye & Omardo Anson.
Watch James compete for TEAM GB at
the LONDON 2012 Olympic Games.
Reviews of PERSONAL BEST
Personal Best manages that rare feat of being socially conscientious yet also artistic, and unafraid to posit huge questions about destiny and the capacity for human change... Beautifully observed, elegantly shot and carefully paced, Personal Best is a powerful documentary debut.
Motivational viewing... This documentary captures the blood, sweat and ceaseless commitment needed to compete at the highest levels of a sport.
Allan Hunter, The Daily Express
An elegant and moving sports documentary on the eve of the Olympics, Personal Best is also an unflinching look at the devotion that defines and creates ambitious homegrown athletes today.... Sam Blair's film balances gritty back stories with slow-mo' transcendence and a quiet sense of wonder.
Kevin Maher, Saturday Times
One of several Olympic-related films being given a cinematic release this summer. On a formal and intellectual level it's easily the most interesting of the batch... Sam Blair treats competitive running with artistic gravitas... Without overloading on biographical details, Blair succeeds in presenting an intimate portrait of his subjects.
Thomas Dawson, Sight & Sound
Perfect timing pre-Olympics for this gripping and fascinating documentary.
Mark Adams, The Sunday Mirror
The film, much like sprinting itself, is a story of humanity operating at its very peak... this is empathetic documentary film-making of a very high caliber, and comes highly recommended to sports-phobes and sports fans alike.
Paul Martinovic, DocGeeks
A stunning new documentary film about the agonies and ecstasies of the athletics world. Four years in the making, it's not a film about running so much as a human study in focus and sacrifice. With grace and tenderness, it gets inside the headspace of four young Olympic hopefuls who spend their whole lives training for those crucial few seconds on the track.
Ruth Saxelby, Dummy Magazine
A Unique film, truly about achievement over success.
Antonia Quirk, The Financial Times
With the film dedicated to the youth of Great Britain, its message is one of inspiration, ardent determination and radical self-belief... Sprints are shot at high-frame speed to stunning effect; the images of straining muscles, astonishing poise and otherworldly speed make for beautiful scenes almost depicting scientific diagrams. Personal Best's cinematography is consistently precise and shows the intimate detail of the competitor's passion and struggle so closely you can almost feel the lactic acid. Blair's film is intentionally left open ended as, on the eve of the London Olympics, the runners train to the limit and nervously wait to see if they qualify.
Alexandra Hayward, CineVue
How nice to see a pre-Olympics project so willing to cut through follow-your-dream guff. And how nice to have such lovely individuals to root for in July.
Charlotte O'Sullivan, The Evening Standard
No small part of the film's compulsive hold is that these are British athletes: not the swaggering superhuman likes of Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell, but individuals prone to doubt and self-deprecation... Highlighting the hard work and genuine human achievement waiting to be discovered and properly celebrated, once all of the hoopla and flagwaving has subsided.
Mike McCahill, Cinestasia
London 2012 agnostics looking for reasons to tune in are urged towards this stirring home-grown doc... The richly ambient score and sound design, over brooding shots of London's tower blocks, knit it hypnotically together.
Tim Robey, The Telegraph
Stylish, revealing, in-depth.
Laurence Phelan, The Independent Radar