MADRID – Odessa Swarts was a promising sprinter in South Africa who was denied the chance to compete internationally during apartheid. Now, a generation later, her son is an Olympic champion. In APART, a new documentary from the Olympic Channel, Swarts and her son, Wayde van Niekerk, share their personal journeys against the context of apartheid and history of sports in South Africa. Featured as part of the award-winning series “Foul Play”, APART is now available worldwide on olympicchannel.com and its mobile apps.
APART (23 min./documentary), showcases how the power of sport played an integral role in the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa, which led to the country’s reinstatement in the Olympic Movement at the 1992 Olympic Games.
During apartheid, which lasted form 1948 until 1994, institutionalized segregation and discrimination affected all facets of life, including sport, education, social settings, home life and more. As a consequence, South Africa did not compete at the Olympic Games from 1964 to 1988 as part of a sporting boycott. Following a vote to end apartheid, South Africa was permitted to return to the Olympic Games where they competed in 1992 in Barcelona.
Told through exclusive interviews with athletes, journalists and sports figures who lived under apartheid, APART also features the story of Odessa Swarts, an outstanding runner in the 1980’s who was unable to compete because of apartheid, and her son Wayde van Niekerk. More than 20 years following the end of apartheid, van Niekerk competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 where he broke the world record in the 400-meter to claim the gold medal.
“Because of apartheid, our records and our achievements were never acknowledged,” said Swarts. “I was meant to go through hardship. I believe that it wasn’t meant for me. I was never meant to be great. But I was meant to be the mother of someone great.”
“I’m part of the new generation where we’re trying to build a new legacy for the country, and at the same time, we’re taking the past with us,” said van Niekerk.
In addition to detailed insight from Olympic silver medallist Elana Meyer, who recounts her experience competing under apartheid as well as representing South Africa at Barcelona 1992, APART also features commentary from IOC Member Sam Ramsamy. Ramsamy served previously as Chairman of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee and President of the South African National Olympic Committee.
“The ‘Olympics’ is the most important single word, if I might say, in bringing sport together in all of its manifestations,” said Ramsamy. “It brings in peace. It brings in integration. It brings in understanding.”
APART is the third film in the award-winning Olympic Channel Original Series Foul Play, a far-reaching documentary series that explores controversial subjects including religion, gender, and race within the context of sports and the Olympic Movement. Foul Play was produced exclusively for the Olympic Channel by VICE Media.
The Olympic Channel is an over-the-top (OTT) global media destination where fans can experience the power of sport and the excitement of the Olympic Games all year round, and is available worldwide via mobile apps for Android and iOS devices and at olympicchannel.com.
About the Olympic Channel
The Olympic Channel is a multi-platform media destination where fans can discover, engage and share in the power of sport and the excitement of the Olympic Games all year round. Offering original programming, news, live sports events and highlights, the Olympic Channel provides additional exposure for sports and athletes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in 11 languages. The Olympic Channel was launched in August 2016 in support of the IOC’s goal, set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, of providing a new way to engage younger generations, fans and new audiences with the Olympic Movement. Founding Partners supporting the Olympic Channel are Worldwide TOP Partners Bridgestone, Toyota and Alibaba. The Olympic Channel is available worldwide via mobile apps for Android and iOS devices and at olympicchannel.com.