Athletes dream big. These ones dream bigger.
We went to the Chauvel cinema last week feeling a bit giddy with excitement. It was the Red Bull premiere of its second “FOCUS” documentary series exploring what drives the world’s top athletes. I knew that somewhere in the crowd were the likes of Jess Fox, John Durand and Mark Mathews.
Featured in this documentary series aren’t your run-of-the mill athletes – they are hang-gliders, big wave surfers, canoeists, sailors and paralympians. They’re the cream of a very different crop who have mastered, innovated or even pioneered their craft.
Before airing the preview episode – ‘Belief’ – Fox, Durand and Mathews spoke briefly about their experiences of being filmed in the series. It was heartening to see them speak in such a down-to-earth way about their world-class performances.
Mathews in particular (who doesn’t just surf waves, but big waves), joked about being more anxious about hosting a big wave surfer event than riding countless epic swells. “If you don’t have fear in your life somewhere, you’re going to have regret later on”. I kind of love that.
Progression, Innovation, Glory, Evolution, Personal Best and Belief. Each one of the six episodes focuses on a theme that binds two very different athletes in their pursuit of victory – however that might be defined. ‘Belief’ weaves together the stories of America’s Cup sailor James Spithill and paralympian Kelly Cartwright.
“Growing up as a redhead in Australia sets you up for some character building”, jokes Spithill about the race of his lifetime – the 2013 America’s cup where his team faced impossible odds in order to win. The audience is made privy to all the moments that lead to Spithill’s victory and you truly never see him faltering in his belief. His team needed eight straight victories to take home the cup. Eight!
‘Belief’ is what drove Cartwright, an avid sports-lover whose recurrent knee pain turned out to be a symptom of an aggressive cancer. Her decision to amputate, and subsequently compete on the international stage is the sort of thing that makes me think what am I doing with my life?!
The great thing about this series is that it shows you how sportsmanship and athleticism have evolved into something quirky and nuanced and inspiring. Red Bull has created a platform to showcase determined, relentless individuals who achieve by creating something new, or find a new way to achieve.
Check out the trailer above.
Words by Claire Benito.
Photography provided by Magnum PR.
*Special thanks to Red Bull for the exclusive invitation.