The apartheid, the armless archer and a humble letter from Algeria

  • March 25, 2021

Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam - AIPS Media

LAUSANNE, March 25, 2021 - The podium of the video categories of the AIPS Sport Media Awards 2020 showed an amazing mix of quality, insight and creativity. Some of the stories were heartbreaking yet so inspiring. Others painted a perfect picture of the past. And there were eye-opening investigations, too.

"The standard of entries jumped up exponentially, which was surprising given how sport has been badly affected over the last 12 months. So it was very, very pleasing to see and very enthralling to judge a lot of high quality work. Video category was particularly strong, maybe a function of there being many more platforms now for good documentaries," jury member, Mark Gleeson said.

"A lot of the top ten nominees were potential winners and that shows how strong the competition was this year," Jaap de Groot, another member of the jury added.

Let’s have a look at the winners.


Pierre Deprez (Belgium) shares the touching and inspiring story of “Piotr Van Montagu: an archer (not) like the others”. The Belgian Paralympic athlete, who has no arms and an atrophied leg, uses his feet and mouth to practice archery. The victim of thalidomide was abandoned at birth and placed in an orphanage before being adopted by a Belgian mother who always pushed him to fend for himself. He now lives alone and does almost everything by himself as can be seen in the 11-minute video which clearly shows the strong will of an extraordinary athlete.

A year after his heart stopped following a terrifying collapse at the Millrose Games track meet in New York City in 2019, Jamaican middle-distance runner Kemoy Campbell courageously returns to the place where his career ended to share the story of his miraculous recovery with Lewis Johnson (USA), who was the athletics reporter for the NBC Sports live broadcast when the frightening incident occurred. Produced by the USA Track & Field TV, the documentary called “Gift of Life” highlights the importance of getting the training that ultimately saved Campbell’s life, CPR and the use of the AED.

“Sadio Mane: Made in Senegal” by Jermain Raffington, Peta Jenkin and Mehdi Benhadj-Djilali (Germany) invites us on a journey through Sadio´s different and highly diverse worlds - from the rural life in a small Bamballi village in the far south of Senegal to becoming one of the best footballers in the world playing for Liverpool FC. With Sadio as the main narrator, the film reveals his thoughts, feelings and worldview and lifts the tonality of the film on a very personal level with the intensity and intimacy of a diary.


“Stop the Tour”, a BT Sport Film by the director Louis Myles (UK), which in 2019 marked 50 years since a 19-year-old Peter Hain led anti-apartheid protests against the Springbok rugby tour of Britain and Ireland, tells the powerful story of how sport played a key role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Indeed, the country’s third rugby World Cup victory in Japan, inspired by the first black captain of the Springboks, could not have come at a better time. The landmark moment of Siya Kolisi lifting the Webb Ellis Cup, surrounded by a multi-racial squad, would never have been possible without the Stop the Seventy Tour demonstrations dating back to 1969, which did not only successfully disrupt the Springbok rugby tour but also forced the cancellation and banning of South African sport internationally for decades. The one hour 24-minute film, which brilliantly connects the struggle of the past and the triumph of the present, also demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between sport and society.

In “Doping Top Secret: The Lord of the Lifters”, a German television documentary broadcast on January 5, 2020, Grit Hartmann, Nick Butler and Hajo Seppelt (Germany) expose corruption and cover-ups in the Olympic sport of weightlifting under the leadership of Hungarian Tamás Aján, who had been president of the International Weightlifting Federation since 2000 - and resigned in mid-April. The ARD doping editorial office reveals how prominent weightlifters were rarely subject to drugs tests, while some of them secretly paid testers in exchange for manipulated urine samples. The programme also cites documents allegedly showing that at least $5 million (4.5 million euros) paid to the IWF by the IOC were transferred into two Swiss accounts controlled by Aján and have not been accounted for. Over a year later, weightlifting’s Olympic future is still in doubt, with the IOC President Thomas Bach insisting that the IWF must reform its leadership, culture and governance.

“Red Blood” by Jean-Marie Goussard (France) recalls the unimaginable tragedy of what could have been the greatest rivalry in Formula 1. In 1982, Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi were the most talented pair of drivers in F1, in the most prestigious of the teams - Ferrari. With Ferrari’s new and improved 126-C2, the duo were favourites for the Drivers’ championship that year, but their friendship was sacrificed at the altar of ambition. A season that promised them triumph ended in blood and tears.


Algerian tennis player Ines Ibbou pours her heart out in an emotional video addressed to World No. 3 Dominic Thiem for his opposition to a coronavirus relief fund proposed to support lowly-ranked players like her who are struggling financially. In the short feature “Ines Ibbou's open letter to Dominic Thiem” by Hassen Guedioura (France), the 21-year-old Ines narrates the difficulties she has had to endure and sacrifices she has had to make so far in her career, in a bid to make the Austrian understand the stark difference between his “magical world” and her reality of surviving in a country that lacked even basic infrastructure for the sport. “Just a reminder, it's not because of your money that we survived until now. And nobody requested to you anything. The initiative went from generous players who showed instant compassion with a classy touch,” she tells Thiem.

“Rob Burrow: my year with MND”, a nine-minute feature, directed by Stuart Pollitt (UK), produced by Claire Ryan and broadcast on BBC Breakfast follows the life of rugby league player Rob Burrow after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. The short film profiles a man determined to fight and win against a dreadful disease that has no cure, as well as revealing the emotional journey his family and friends have been on. “First it comes for your voice, then it takes your legs, it tries to rob you of your breath, but it can’t sap your spirit,” Rob struggles to say, with a smile on his face, despite the fact he has almost lost his voice. The feature, which sparked interest across the UK media, has succeeded in raising awareness of MND and tens of thousands of pounds for vital research in the search for a cure.

“Thierry Corbalan, the Corsican dolphin” by David Sandona (France) chronicles the last challenge of French swimmer Thierry Corbalan, whose arms were amputated in 1988 after he was electrocuted during his fishing session. In September 2020, the “Corsican dolphin” swims the Mediterranean from Calvi to Mandelieu with a monofin. On arriving at his destination after six days and nights, he returns to the loving arms of his wife Patricia and presents a birthday gift to the man who saved his life 32 years ago.


“Karate Tai Sabaki, more than meets the eyes” by Clarisse Sih (Cameroon) uncovers a string of rape and sexual harassment claims made by some ladies practicing karate in Cameroon. The comprehensive 28-minute investigative piece also features interviews with some coaches and even the president of the Cameroon Karate Federation, Emmanuel Wakam, who was one of the accused. Two weeks after it first aired on July 23, 2020, the country’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education suspended all accused persons after a commission of inquiry sent in their findings.


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