Olympic Channel Announces New Slate of Five Rings Films Sports Documentaries


MADRID – After achieving one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, wrestler Rulon Gardner struggled with his newfound stardom amidst a constant battle with life’s struggles. In Rulon Gardner Won’t Die, Gardner shares his personal journey from his humble roots growing up on a Wyoming farm to finding fame at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 where he defeated three-time Olympic champion Aleksandr Karelin of Russia, and how his resilience has helped him to overcome adversity after the ‘miracle on the mat’ and multiple near-death experiences. Part of the award-winning Five Rings Films documentary series, the Olympic Channel original film will premiere digitally on Wednesday, 3 June at olympicchannel.com and on its apps for mobile and connected TV devices.

Following the release of Rulon Gardner Won’t Die, the Olympic Channel plans to release three additional documentaries over the next year from Five Rings Films, which is produced exclusively for the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) global media platform by Frank Marshall and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM). Marshall, whose producing credits include legendary titles such as “Jason Bourne,” “Jurassic World” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, serves as executive producer alongside MSM’s Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach whose recent credits include “The Last Dance”. Greg Groggel will serve as executive producer for the Olympic Channel.

Five Rings Films, the Olympic Channel’s signature documentary series, is a series of incisive and entertaining documentaries directed by some of the biggest names in film from around the world. In addition to depictions of iconic individuals and record-breaking teams, each feature length film showcases the incredible humanity, variety and achievements of the modern Olympic era.

The new slate of Five Rings Films feature documentaries currently in production for release in 2020 and 2021 includes:

  • Rulon Gardner Won’t Die: At the 2000 Olympic Games, Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner beat the world’s most dominant wrestler and three-time reigning Olympic champion, Aleksandr Karelin of Russia. But what came after the ‘miracle on the mat’ was even more unpredictable. Directed by Adam Irving (“Off the Rails”).
  • The Iron HammerHow trailblazing volleyball icon Lang Ping brought gold to China, left home for adventures abroad, and then returned to save a struggling women’s programme and turn them into Olympic champions.
  • The Distance (Working Title): The story of an enduring Japanese running tradition and a humble Olympic champion named Naoko Takahashi who captured her nation’s imagination with a run for the ages at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000.
  • A Brilliant Curling Story (Working Title): Despite a lack of funding, five unassuming women from Scotland united for a shot at Olympic curling glory – and won the hearts of a nation in the process at the Olympic Games Salt Lake City 2002.

“Frank Marshall and Mike Tollin are among the world’s greatest storytellers and we look forward to sharing the stories of these incredible athletes with the world in the lead up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 hosted in 2021,” said Mark Parkman, general manager of the IOC’s global Olympic Channel. “This ambitious documentary series is a hallmark of our programming efforts to bring Olympic heroes to life outside of the Games themselves.”

“The Olympic Games have a rich history of memorable moments as well as controversial moments, so I’m very excited to be able to tell the incredible stories of Rulon Gardner and other Olympic greats through this inspiring series, which combines my passion for filmmaking with my passion for the Olympics,” said Marshall.

“We’re so proud of this slate,” said Tollin. “These are stories of determination and grit, of overcoming obstacles, and achieving against long odds. These heroes remind us of why we love sports and why the Olympics continue to inspire us.”

Previous released documentaries in the Five Rings Films series include The Nagano Tapes, the inspiring underdog story of the Czech Republic’s stunning gold medal win in men’s ice hockey in 1998 directed by Ondrej Hudecek; The People’s Fighter’s examines Cuba’s boxing culture and highlights the career of the legendary Teofilo Stevenson directed by Peter Berg; and The Golden Generation which spotlights the Argentine Men’s National Team’s historic gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Basketball Tournament directed by Juan Jose Campanella.

Offering year-round coverage of Olympic sports and elite athletes in their quest for success, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Channel over-the-top (OTT) streaming service is available worldwide and subscription-free at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on connected TV devices.


About the Olympic Channel

The Olympic Channel is a multi-platform global 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 12 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 at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and the Roku platform.

Social Media

For more information, please follow the Olympic Channel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube or log on to olympicchannel.com.


With a career spanning more than 45 years and over 80 films, Frank Marshall has helped shape American cinema, producing some of the most successful and enduring films of all time. Starting as a location manager on Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, by 1981 Marshall was working as a producer on Raiders of the Lost Ark with Steven Spielberg and future wife Kathleen Kennedy. Shortly thereafter, the trio formed industry powerhouse Amblin Entertainment, and together produced movies such as Gremlins, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?HookEmpire of the Sun, and the Indiana Jones trilogy.

In 1991, Marshall and Kennedy left Amblin to form their own production company, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, where they produced The Sixth SenseSignsSeabiscuitThe Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonWar HorseThe Armstrong Lie and all four films in the Bourne series. In 2012, Marshall took over as sole principal of the company when partner Kathleen Kennedy became Chairman of Lucasfilm. He is currently producing Jurassic World:Dominion, the third film in the Jurassic World series and a Broadway musical based on the life of Princess Diana, Diana:A True Musical Story.

Marshall has five Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, including Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Color PurpleThe Sixth SenseSeabiscuit, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  In November 2018, he and wife Kathleen Kennedy received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, an honor presented to creative producers “whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.”

In addition to his prolific producing career, Marshall is also an accomplished director, having helmed ArachnophobiaEight BelowAlive, and several documentaries, including the award-winning ESPN 30 for 30Right to Play.  He is currently directing How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, a documentary about the Bee Gees.

A Los Angeles native and son of composer Jack Marshall, he ran cross-country and track as a student at UCLA and was a three-year varsity letterman in soccer.  For over a decade, Marshall was a Vice President and member of the United States Olympic Committee. In 2005 he was awarded the Olympic Shield, and in 2008, inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame for his service to the Olympic movement. Please visit kennedymarshall.com for more information about Frank Marshall.


Launched in 2012 by Peter Guber and Mike Tollin, MSM is a diversified content and media company that specializes in high-quality, sports-themed programming for all platforms. Most recently, MSM executive produced “The Last Dance”, the series on Michael Jordan and the Bulls for ESPN and Netflix. (www.mandalaysportsmedia.com)

Editor’s Notes:

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