Sports Films waiting to Happen

Invictus was met with critical acclaim in February. SportsPro looks at five other films that could be coming to a cinema near you.

24 August 2012 Michael Long

Disney’s 1993 film about the first winter Olympic foray of the Jamaican bobsled team at Calgary in 1988 didn’t come cheap at US$14 million. Recording gross revenues of over US$150 million, however, Cool Runnings was a sensation. Capturing the hearts of millions, only an iota of extra sentimentality was injected to make the true story fit for the silver screen. The story of Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, aka ‘the Snow Leopard’, will have pricked executive ears in Hollywood. A safari guide in Ghana, Nkrumah-Acheampong moved to England and became a receptionist at the Milton Keynes indoor ski slope in 2002. Eight years later, Nkrumah-Acheampong became Ghana’s first winter Olympian, finishing 53rd of 54 in the slalom at Vancouver 2010. The Real Escape to Victory It is fair to say the 1981 Sylvester Stallone vehicle Escape to Victory is not to everyone’s taste. The film hinges on the moment Stallone saves a last-minute penalty to deny the Germans a victory over the plucky prisoners against whom they’ve been pitted. The film is undoubtedly a classic (of some sort), but a tweak to the formula might see a certain Bert Trautmann in the hero’s role. A Luftwaffe paratrooper in the Second World War, Trautmann was captured and held as a prisoner-of-war in Lancashire. Refusing an offer of repatriation upon his release in 1948, Trautmann joined Manchester City as a goalkeeper. Supporter unrest was calmed as he went on to make 545 appearances for the team, the finest of which by far was in the 1956 FA Cup final. Breaking his neck with 17 minutes to go, Trautmann played on, making several fine saves to win his team the trophy. The Texan Icarus Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Allen Stanford’s championing of cricket, and particularly the money he pumped into the game in the West Indies, seemed too good to be true. A bon viveur if ever there was one, the trappings of Stanford’s playboy lifestyle aren’t too far removed from those of your average Bond villain. His grandiose Houston office was a mass of marble and mahogany and fitted to a tee his larger-than-life image. An ambiguous knighthood in tow, the whiff of financial foul play followed Stanford from the moment he made his fortune on the Texan real estate market. For cinematic purposes, it would be convenient if his ostentatious sponsorship of the England cricket team was the trigger that prompted his arrest for an alleged ‘massive’ US$8 billion Ponzi scheme in early 2009. The Rise and Fall of Hansie Cronje Wessel Johannes Cronje died in a plane crash in the Outeniqua Mountains in South Africa on 1st June 2002. His death, at the age of 32, was a tragedy. His life up to that point, however, had been a topsy-turvy tale of dizzying sporting highs and shameful lows. A 2008 film, written by Cronje’s brother Frans, was met with limited acclaim in his native South Africa. His story deserves wider recognition. One of his country’s finest cricketers, Cronje is the third most successful captain of all time, having led South Africa to 99 wins. His house of cards came tumbling in 2000, however, when an Indian investigation revealed a catalogue of corruption stretching back to 1996. Conspiracy theories remain about the circumstances of his death. A Star Reborn Italian racing driver Alex Zanardi suffered a horrific crash in a CART race at the Lausitzring in Germany in September 2001. The former Formula One driver lost both his legs and would have lost his life if it hadn’t been for the miraculous work of track doctors Stephen Olvey and Terry Trammel. What has followed is a remarkable tale of courage, fortitude and personal determination. With the aid of prosthetic legs and specially modified cars, Zanardi returned to touring car racing in 2004. Retiring from motorsport last year, Zanardi has set his sights on Paralympic gold at London 2012. He has already won the Venice and Rome City handcycle marathons and, should he achieve his dream, it would cap a heart-warming journey from tragedy to personal redemption. SportsPro Magazine | 15 Invictus was met with critical acclaim in February. SportsPro looks at five other films that could be coming to a cinema near you. SportS filmS waiting to happen 15 2010 05 {filedir_26}SportsProMag_issue21_15.pdf [7838] [sportspro_may_2010] SportsPro May 2010