The story begins with Lionel Sanders (CAN), Sebastien Kienle (GER) and Heather Jackson (USA) giving the Noah Media production team unfiltered access to their training and personal lives as they end a challenging year with the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona.
Produced by Noah Media Group, the long-form film will lift the lid on what it takes to be the very best in long distance triathlon. Noah Media Group is the award-winning production company behind many critically acclaimed sports feature documentaries including Finding Jack Charlton – the documentary portrait of one of football’s most cherished heroes and his experience with dementia, which was launched in late 2020 in partnership with BBC & Virgin Media Ireland.
Beyond Human follows the three elite athletes on their day-to-day lives and training, including injury mishaps and mental hurdles. Despite being from different countries, the three have one thing in common; they like to suffer. At elite level, triathlete generally becomes synonymous with masochist, and no one personifies this better than ITU Long Course World Champ, Lionel Sanders, who says: ‘I want to inflict pain, I like crushing people’. Equally, Ironman World Champ Sebastien Kinele says, ‘the pain you feel, it’s something I look forwards to’.
Follow the trio through some hardcore training, watch them fight through injury and, like the rest of the world, see how they adapt to the global Coronavirus pandemic derailing future plans and ambitions. The documentary peeks deeper into the lives of the athletes, gaining insight on their childhood and the development of their professional athlete mindset, Jackson defining as ‘do or die’. Begin to understand just what it takes to be top in the world in such a gruelling sport. The link between mental health and sport, particularly racing, is touched upon as Sanders admits that ‘triathlon saved my life’. Watch the triathletes’ performances along the world-famous international speedway at Challenge Daytona, and get a grasp of that much-missed race feeling, which Kinele describes as ‘that pressure, when it really matters, it makes me feel so alive’.
The athletes are documented on their journey to qualify and train for the PTO’s flagship race, the Collins Cup. A spin off of golf’s Ryder Cup, this innovative new event will see the top triathletes in the world competing in three teams across a middle-distance multi-race format.The innovative Collins Cup is inspired by Judy and John Collins, who were instrumental in establishing the sport of ironman triathlon in Hawaii 40 years ago. The PTO is a non-profit organisation that focusses on supporting athletes and offering equal opportunities across gender and nationality.
Top image of Lionel Sanders at Challenge Daytona, by Tommy Zaferes