ITV4 is to screen a brand new eight-part documentary series in which sporting legends speak honestly and candidly about their careers.
Presented by ITV’s chief sports reporter Gabriel Clarke, Sports Life Stories chronicles the lives of many of Britain’s and the world’s best-loved sporting stars and high-achievers.
The series of sporting biographies promises to give sports fans a fascinating insight into the lives of each featured sportsperson, as well as the mind set that is required to reach the very top of their game.
Former world featherweight boxing champion Barry McGuigan will be the first sports star to be put under the spotlight in the ITV4 series.
Famous sporting figures including Gareth Thomas, Dame Kelly Holmes, Lawrence Dallaglio, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Fabrice Muamba, Amir Khan and Brian Lara will also feature during the eight-part series.
Each programmes is made up of long interviews with the subject, additional interviews with friends and family, and a vast array of archive footage and stills.
Sports Life Stories has been produced by ITV Sport in conjunction with renowned sports production firm DeadPan Films.
The series is the latest in a host of new and original sports documentaries that have been broadcast on ITV4 during the past year, including World of Sport, Superbikes: When Britain Ruled The World, Dallaglio’s World Cup, and a series of football documentaries.ITV4’s Sports Life Stories – Trailer
The first subject of the series is a true legend of boxing.
Former world featherweight boxing champion Barry McGuigan discusses his life inside the ring, and how he became one of the most high-profile figures in Northern Ireland during a difficult time for the country.
The Irish boxer, undisputably one of the best boxers of his generation, talks frankly to about the highs and the lows he experienced in his journey to become the best in the world.
Arguably McGuigan did something during the troubles in Ireland that the politicians could not achieve.
In those brief moments when he fought in the ring he united a nation in confict.
As an amateur he won a multitude of titles. At the tender age of 17 he took the gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games and as a professional he won the British, European and World Titles.
On a memorable night in June 1985, a television audience of 20m watched as McGuigan achieved his dream and became World Featherweight Champion of the World by defeating Eusebio Pedroza.
His amazing performance later captured him the title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
McGuigan’s popularity transcended the sport of boxing and his fights became family occasions, uniting people across sectarian and religious divides during a troubled time in the country’s political history.
Gareth Thomas was the first Welshman to get a 100 caps, captained the British and Irish Lions, and led Wales to their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 27 years.
He also became the one of the first major British sports star to come out as gay.
Thomas’s story is remarkable by any sportsman’s standards. Universally known by his nickname ‘Alfie’, he amassed an incredible list of achievements in more than a decade at the top of his sport.
He has claimed a record number of Test tries for his country, beating the mark of 33 set by Ieuan Evans, and in 2005 he racked up not just the Grand Slam but also a Heineken Cup-winner’s medal with Toulouse.
Thomas stepped into the breach as leader of Sir Clive Woodward’s Lions when captain Brian O’Driscoll’s tour was prematurely ended, and he reached the milestone of 100 caps, the most won by any Wales player, during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Away from the field, his experiences have often read like a real-life soap opera.
Yet, amid the highs and lows of a remarkable rugby odyssey, it is Thomas’s alternative yet engaging personality that marks him out as a true one-off.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is widely considered to be one of the most gifted and talented players in the history of the sport.
The Englishman has won the world championship on four occasions so far in his career, and amassed a total of 24 ranking titles.
But ‘The Rocket’ also has a reputation for being one of the most controversial players on the tour.
He has had several clashes with the sport’s authorities, and has also made several threats to quit the sport.
The programme, presented by Adam Darke, features contributions from World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and the legendary Jimmy White.
British middle-distance runner Kelly Holmes reached the pinnacle of her sport after winning gold in both the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
She was made a dame in the 2005 New Year’s Honours list – but these glittering prizes were the reward for 20 years of sacrifices and struggles.
This episode highlights the many hurdles she had to overcome to be a successful athlete.
From growing up in the care system, joining the army at 17, and finally overcoming years of injuries before fullfilling her undoubted potential to become the first British athlete to win double gold medals in a single Olympic Games.
In the fifth episode of the series, ITV rugby presenter Martin Bayfield is in conversation with Wasps and England legend Lawrence Dallaglio.
He talks about the tragedy of the loss of his sister, the humiliation of losing the England captaincy, and the euphoria of becoming a World Cup winner.
Dallaglio discusses his life and career, which saw him represent London Wasps at club level, as well as England and the British Lions on the international stage.
A story in a tabloid newspaper in 1999 led to his resignation as England captain, but Dallaglio would later become an integral part of the Grand Slam and World Cup-winning side of 2003.
With contributions from his father Vincenzo, former teammate Dean Ryan and England’s Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.
In the sixth edition, Bolton-born boxer Amir Khan talks about the highs and lows of his explosive career to date.
Khan has been in the British sporting sportlight since he was a teenager fighting in the Olympic Games in Athens 2004.
From bursting on the scene at the tender age of just 17, winning the world title at 22, and the controversy of the fight he lost in acrimonious circumstances to Lamont Peterson in December 2011, who later proved to be on steroids, Khan’s career story has never been far away from the headlines.
In this edition, former Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba talks about how he was at the centre of one of the most extraordinary sports stories of the year.
He describes how he felt that day last March when he suffered a heart attack on the pitch during a live televised FA Cup match.
Still only 24-years-of-age, Muamba also talks about his early life as a young Congolese boy coming to England at the age of 11 speaking no English at all, and about his subsequent successful but short professional career in the game.
The programme also features contributions from Jermaine Defoe, Owen Coyle and Patrick Vieira.
The iconic West Indies cricketer Brian Lara talks about his incredible career as one of the greatest batsman in the history of the game in the final episode of the series.
Despite having retired from the top class game in 2007, he still holds the record for the highest ever individual innings score in both county and Test cricket.
He talks about his early days in Trinidad on the road to becoming one of the most respected names in cricket.
With contributions from Clive Lloyd, Alex Stewart and Michael Vaughan.