The second film in the fall series of ESPN’s critically-acclaimed 30 for 30 series premieres tonight. “9.79*” looks at the iconic men’s 100 meters race in track and field at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Director Daniel Gordon manages to get all eight of the men who ran the race including disgraced winner Ben Johnson of Canada to talk about the impact of the race. Carl Lewis who finished second, but was eventually declared the winner by the International Olympic Committee plays a large role in the film.
Johnson who rarely talks to the media is featured prominently and he talks about taking steroids to overtake Lewis between 1984 when Lewis won four gold medals in the Los Angeles Olympics and 1988 in Seoul.
This is very good and the film uses historical footage from both Olympics and various races throughout the 1980′s. Quite impressed with this installment of the 30 for 30 series.
Here’s the press release from ESPN Films.
Latest 30 for 30 documentary examines the infamous Ben Johnson/Carl Lewis 100m final at the 1988 Seoul Games
ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 will premiere 9.79* on ESPN/ESPN HD on Tuesday, October 9, at 8 p.m. ET. A selection at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, 9.79* is directed by Daniel Gordon and examines the unforgettable showdown between Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis in the men’s 100m final at the 1988 Olympic games as well as the steroids scandal that followed. Grantland.com will debut two features related to 9.79* including a Bill Simmons’ “The B.S. Report” podcast with Malcolm Gladwell, and a first-hand account of the event by Grantland writer Charlie Pierce who attended the race in Seoul. 9.79* can be viewed at the newly redesigned 30 for 30 site (espn.com/30for30/).
On September 24, 1988, Johnson beat Lewis in the 100m final at the Seoul games, lowering his own world record to 9.79 seconds in what was perhaps the most thrilling sprint in Olympic history. Within 48 hours, however, Johnson had tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was stripped of the gold medal. In the ensuing years, it has been revealed that five other competitors in that race had either tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or were implicated in a drug scandal. All eight sprinters in that 100m final were interviewed for 9.79* as it explores what is often considered the most infamous race in history.
The remaining films for this slate of 30 for 30 documentaries will air as follows:
- Tuesday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m. – 9.79* (Daniel Gordon)
- Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m. – There’s No Place Like Home (Maura Mandt and Josh Swade)
- Tuesday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m. – Benji (Coodie and Chike)
- Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. – Ghosts of Ole Miss (Fritz Mitchell)
- Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m. – You Don’t Know Bo (Michael Bonfiglio)
Newsday’s Neil Best also has a review. There you have it.