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14 of the best sporting films and documentaries to watch

Who doesn't love watching a good sporting film? With many stories based on dramatic real life events they never fail to inspire. Here are some of our favourites...

Best sporting films

Best sporting films on Amazon Prime

Building Jerusalem

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Remember when England won the World Cup? No not the 1966 World Cup, the 2003 one for men’s rugby. This film charts their journey to success, exploring the human stories and training techniques behind that famous victory.

Sean Conway’s Europe or Bust

Follow endurance athlete and serial adventurer Sean Conway as he attempts to break the world record for cycling across mainland Europe unsupported. Travel with him as he cycles 6,000km over eight countries and follow his ups and downs as he he faces adventure, adversity and hardship.

Running for Good

A true tale proving anything is possible. When world record holder Fiona Oakes was 17 years old she was told she would never walk properly again, never mind run, due to a tumour forcing the removal of her kneecap. Well that was 35 years ago and since then she has won the Antarctic Ice Marathon, the North Pole Marathon and holds four world records for marathon running. Not bad for a woman who was told she wouldn’t be able to run.

This film charts her journey as she takes on the iconic Marathon Des Sables, a 250km race through the Sahara Desert.

Finding Traction: The Ultra Marathon Documentary

Follow runner and ultramarathon runner Nikki Kimball as she not only aims to run America’s oldest hiking trail, the 273-mile Long Trail, but also to be the fastest person ever to run and complete it. Get insights into her training schedule, mindset and the life of one of the world’s most extraordinary ultra runners.

The Dawn Wall

As a climbing film The Dawn Wall is extraordinary, telling the story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s incredible ascent of an impossible multiday climb on El Cap in Yosemite National Park. Only, it’s not impossible, and this isn’t just a climbing film.

In addition to the captivating footage of these two climbers tackling a 900m vertical rock face, the film also tells the harrowing story of how Caldwell was taken hostage on a climbing trip to the Middle East as a teenager.

Best sporting films on Disney+

Cool Runnings

You can’t fail to be inspired and smile at Cool Runnings, the Jamaican bobsleigh team who defy the odds to race at the Winter Olympics. Enjoy plenty of sun and laughs as a group of unlikely winter Olympians overcome prejudice and adversity, and try not to shed a tear when they carry the bobsleigh along the track and earn the respect of their sporting contemporaries.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

Born poor, if not quite poverty-stricken, this film charts Francis Ouimet’s rise from an impoverished beginning to becoming the first amateur to win the US Open, taking on the wealthy classes as he did so.

Queen Of Katwe

Alright, you might not think of chess as a sport but this film is definitely worth your consideration and has all the elements of a good sporting film with competition and triumph in the face of adversity. It depicts how chess turned Ugandan Phiona’s life around. Born in the slums of Katwe, Kampala, her world expands as chess takes her from the poverty-ridden streets to the national championships and beyond.

Free Solo

Need a dose of adrenaline from the comfort of your sofa? This Academy Award-winning film is the answer. Free Solo follows one of the world’s best climbers, Alex Honnold, as he attempts to scale all 975m of Yosemite’s El Capitan without a rope and harness.

The tension is palpable throughout this documentary, with every hand and foot placement potentially being Honnold’s last. The footage is mind-blowing, the scenery is stunning and it’s fascinating to get an insight into an athlete operating at the edge of human and sport’s limits.

Best sporting films on Netflix

Coach Carter

A classic. A feel-good film that warms the cockles and reignites the faith that good people are out there. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of basketball coach Ken Carter (played by Samuel Jackson), who puts academic results and behaviour before sporting success, and as a result changes the lives of those he coaches for the better.

Moneyball

Young Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) persuades the manager of baseball team Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) to take a chance on him, promising he can turn his team’s results around using Sabermetrics (a system that selects players based on their on-base percentage). The scheme faces hostility and scepticism from players, but eventually pays dividends.

Overcoming

Want to know what it takes to ride the Tour de France?  Enter the world of pro racing with former pro rider and Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis as he strives to make his new team, Team CSC, the best in the world and capture cycling’s ultimate prize – victory in the Tour de France.

The English Game

Football’s answer to Downton Abbey, its creator Julian Fellowes charts how a team of working class players in the 1870s change the game forever, from one played by the wealthy elite to one enjoyed by the masses.

Best sporting films on Sky Cinema

The Blind Side

Another feel-good film based on true life. This is the story of how American footballing star Michael Oher was taken in by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy as a teenager and helped to overcome a less-than-ideal upbringing to play in the National Football League (NFL).

And one more…

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And don’t forget to look out for PTO documentary Beyond Human, which follows top pros Lionel Sanders, Sebastien Kienle and and Heather Jackson through their day-to-day lives and training, as they battle injury mishaps and mental hurdles.