It's always fascinating to dip your toe in the water of a subject you know little about. In terms of the Olympics, most of us know what the games are all about. But how many of us know much about the Paralympic Games? That's the subject of the brilliant documentary Rising Phoenix. It's not a history lesson but more of a well-woven collection of stories from athletes across the world as well as the CEO, President, and former President of the IPC.
Rising Phoenix charts the ups and downs of the Paralympics since its foundation in 1948. The games are usually held straight after the Olympics in the host country but it wasn't until Bejing in 2008 that they were really given the attention they deserve. That continued through to London 2012 with hopes and expectations high that Brazil in 2016 would continue the great legacy. In Rising Phoenix we get to meet nine athletes from around the world that either attended London 2012 or were in training for Rio 2016.
Their stories are incredible. The battle and drive to come back from near death in some cases, only to end up an Olympian is so incredible that you will be glued to the screen. Without wanting to trot out all the usual tropes, it really is inspirational. This is far more than a look at disability and more about an unending desire to simply be the best. When you see the extraordinary journeys that these athletes have been on and then you see the mismanagement of the money in Brazil, it will make you angry.
That anger doesn't really subside. It's fuelled by the discrimination that so many of these athletes face every day. From having to sue your state to earn the right to just compete with classmates on the high school track team, to being hidden away because disability is a big no-no in your home country, everything about Rising Phoenix has a point. It is a superb documentary that will leave you with a sense of perspective and humility but with a profound feeling of hope that things, over time, do get better.