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These Documentaries Deserve a Gold Medal in the 2021 Summer Olympics and Paralympics

Ice Warriors: Sled Hockey | Medal Quest

Updated: August 23, 2021

Originally published: July 22, 2021

By Beatrice Alvarez

It's time again for the high drama and excitement of the Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Intense competition! World-class sportsmanship! Feats of (mental and physical) strength! Exceptional human abilities! The 2021 Paralympics kick off on August 24 in Tokyo, Japan. The global sports stage is set so it's only fitting that we have some excellent sports documentaries for you to enjoy throughout the summer games. Stay hydrated and remember to stretch as you stream!

Victoria's Foil | Rocky Mountain PBS

What does it take to train for the Paralympics? To make it to the elite world stage of fencing? Now add a global pandemic into that challenge. Rocky Mountain PBS (in Denver, CO) brings us a documentary that follows wheelchair fencer Tori Isaacson in her quest to compete at this year's Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.

RMPBS Presents...

Victoria's Foil

Wheelchair fencer Victoria “Tori” Isaacson’s quest to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics.

Beatrice | POV

The Paralympics begin August 24 this year and in this POV short film we follow Beatrice Vio, an Italian Paralympic champion and the only paralympic fencer in the world to compete without arms or legs.



A portrait of Beatrice Vio, a Paralympic fencing champion.

Positive All The Way | Austin PBS

Sir Philip Craven is a Paralympic athlete that has encouraged the world to see Paralympians with equal splendor to Olympians. He has spearheaded a movement and expanded access to more athletes in competition. Learn more about Craven and his mission in this documentary from Austin PBS - KLRU in Austin, Texas.

KLRU Presents

Positive All The Way

Inspiring story of the Paralympic movement's revolution and its charismatic founder.

Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey

Follow the U.S. sled hockey team on their path to the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. This film from World Channel series Medal Quest is back to show audiences what grit, determination, and fierce athletic competition looks like.

Medal Quest

Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey

Follow the U.S. sled hockey team as the clock counts down to the 2014 Paralympic Games.

Stay Close | POV

Olympic medalist Keeth Smart helped Team USA earn a silver medal in sabre fencing in the 2008 Summer Olympics. This film from POV explores his difficult journey to the Olympics with a combination of home videos and animation.


Stay Close

Home videos and animation tell the story of Keeth Smart, an Olympic Fencer from Brooklyn.

Starting July 24 | The Trials of Muhammad Ali

While his amateur career included winning a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics (he was then known as Cassius Clay), his professional career included a time in exile from boxing after receiving a prison sentence for refusing U.S. military service. Independent Lens is bringing back this excellent documentary exploring Ali's challenge to the status quo and the sacrifices he made for speaking his truth.

And you might have noticed we have a lot more Muhammad Ali information on the way as we approach the September 19 premiere of Muhammad Ali by Ken Burns.

Independent Lens

Trials of Muhammad Ali: Confronted and Redeemed

The Trials of Muhammad Ali premieres on PBS Independent Lens on April 14, 2014.

Starting July 31 | Althea

Okay, hear us out on this one. We know Althea Gibson didn't compete in the Olympics, but the sport of tennis has seen so many incredible athletes that enchant audiences beyond the court. You don't have to know exactly what "love" stands for in the scores but you do know that tennis greats have been using their platforms to spur conversations about race, gender, and mental health. And Althea Gibson herself was an amazing, multi-faceted phenom so we all should learn more about her legacy. This American Masters film will be available for all to stream starting July 31. It is available to Passport members in the meantime.

American Masters

Althea: Race in the Sport of Tennis

Althea Gibson wasn't concerned with representing her race, she just wanted to play.

The Fight | American Experience

Two of the most talked-about boxing matches in history were between heavyweight champions Joe Louis and Max Shmeling. American Joe Louis met German Max Shmeling in the ring at the 1936 Olympics, which took place in Nazi-controlled Berlin, Germany. A rematch between America was held at Yankee Stadium in 1938 and the boxing match carried greater symbolism of two nations nearing war. American Experience explores the histories of both fighters and the events surrounding the historic boxing match.

American Experience

The Fight

The famous 1938 heavyweight fight between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling.

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