NITV airs doco that recalls Olympic pride, American prejudice

ABOVE: Jesse Owens (centre) with some of his 1936 Olympic team-mates.
ABOVE: Jesse Owens (centre) with some of his 1936 Olympic team-mates.


8.30pm, Saturday, NITV

When it comes to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the story of Jesse Owens is the one people remember.

Here was a black man winning gold in front of Adolf Hitler, a leader who had staked his claim on the Aryan race being physically superior to all others.

Rather than acknowledge the obvious stupidity of his ideas, Hitler had a tantrum and stormed out of his box when Owens won his first of four gold medals - so he wouldn't have to present a black man with their prize.

What gets lost in that story is that Owens wasn't the only black athlete representing the United States - 17 other athletes were over there too.

And, as this documentary shows, it wasn't a case of the forces of good triumphing over evil.

Because America had its very own issues with race.

They were happy to bask in Owens' achievements on the track but, when he came back home, he was just another black man subjected to the same racism as all the others.

Some of the athletes were very harshly treated. Sprinter Louise Stokes made the Olympics in 1932 and 1936 yet never got to compete.

This was because the coaches decided to replace her with a white runner who wasn't as good.

But at least she was white, right?

A black boxer also got replaced with a white team-mate when they made it to Berlin.

This documentary really shines a light on a part of America's past that has, for so long, been seen as a triumph.

But perhaps it wasn't - not for Owens, who became an Olympic champion four times over, but for America itself.

It was certainly not as overt in its discrimination as Germany, but it did still discriminate.

Australian Story: Chicago Bulls centre Luc Longley spills the beans about his time playing with Michael Jordan.

Australian Story: Chicago Bulls centre Luc Longley spills the beans about his time playing with Michael Jordan.


8pm, Monday, ABC

For Australian basketball fans who watched The Last Dance, the gripping TV series about the final championship won by the Chicago Bulls, there was one curious omission.

Where was Luc Longley?

The 218-centimetre centre was the first Australian to play in the NBA, drafted by the Timberwolves in 1991 and joined the Bulls in 1994 - just before some guy named Michael Jordan decided to return.

Longley was one of the Bulls' starting five for much of their second threepeat - but he missed out on The Last Dance.

The makers said it was a budget decision - they couldn't afford to send a film crew to Australia.

Which really begs the question, had they not heard of Zoom?

So it falls to Australian Story to chat with Longley.

And they managed to get interviews with Bulls' team-mates like Scottie Pippen and Jordan and coach Phil Jackson - see US film-makers, it's not that hard.

The basketball legend's story occupies the first two episodes of the returning ABC series.

Is it any good?

Well, that's hard to tell as previews of the show weren't available by the time the TV guide had to go to press.

But, hey, it's Australian Story, they've been churning out quality shows for ages - they really know what they're doing.

It's sure to be great.


This story Free TV: A fresh look at the Berlin Games first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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