FloTrack Featured

A Running Review Of 'Sprint,' The Track And Field Documentary On Netflix

A Running Review Of 'Sprint,' The Track And Field Documentary On Netflix

We're spending the next few days binging the first season of 'Sprint' on Netflix. Here are our thoughts.

Jul 3, 2024 by Cory Mull
A Running Review Of 'Sprint,' The Track And Field Documentary On Netflix

If there's one point brought home over the first episode of 'Sprint,' the new documentary by Netflix profiling the 100 meter Kings and Queens of track and field, it's that Noah Lyles is the main attraction. 

The Virginia native comes locked and loaded with line after line in 'Heir To The Throne,' which is the first episode of six over the first season of the series, which follows professional 100 meter sprinters through the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Over six episodes we'll hear from Lyles, Sha'Carri Richardson, Zharnell Hughes, Marcell Jacobs, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah, among others. 

A second season has already been in production -- in fact, cameras were rolling through the U.S. Track and Field Trials this weekend. 

The best Lyles quotes over the first 10 or so minutes? 

"I'm the third fastest human to ever live. Soon to be the first." 

"You have to have the mindset of a God." 

"I feel like I'm an almost artistic director." 

"I'm a true believer in that the moment isn't bigger than me, the moment was made for me." 

It's a special day for track and field, as we're fresh off the final days of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene and less than a month out from the Paris Olympics. So we're going to do what we do best and binge the entire season of Sprint, episode by episode. 

Check in on our thoughts below. 

The General Consensus So Far (After Four Episodes): This series doesn't veer too far from the sun and keeps its eyes directly locked on the track. While it would serve the casual viewer a bit more to understand the athlete, true track fans will get swept up in the scenes, the meets and the races.

Episode 1: 'Heir To The Throne'

(Run Time: 40 minutes, 44 seconds)

Lyles proves to be a candid subject and a more-than-apt lead in the series, with his ability to rattle off stinging quotes, combined with his penchant for wearing big clothing and his overall main character attitude. 

But juxtaposed later with the life of Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs, who is a father, a husband and a man overcoming injury, it presents an interesting contrast between the two. 

The first episode focuses on the pair in the lead-up to the Diamond League Paris meeting in 2023. We meet Lyles' mom, Keisha Caine Bishop, and his girlfiend, Junelle Bromfield, in Clermont, then later his coach, Lance Brauman, in Paris. 

Fast forward to Rome. We're spending time with Jacobs and his wife, Nicole Daza, and his children. We're hearing about the injury that he's been managing, along with the criticism he's taken for skipping high-profile 100 meter events. Michael Johnson all but says his Olympic 100m title may have been a "fluke." 

Multiple-time Olympian and track commentator Ato Boldon adds: "When he is healthy and is firing on all cylinders, he's the best in the world. That's why he's the Olympic champion. But he hasn't been close since." 

The series sets the stage for what's to come across six episodes, with scenes skipping between Budapest, Hungary; Paris, France; Clermont, Florida; and Rome, Italy. 

We hear from the likes of Boldon, Johnson, Allyson Felix, Gabby Thomas, Dina Asher-Smith, Ferdinand Omanyala, Lance Brauman and Paolo Camossi -- who Jacobs later moved on from in September of 2023.

In the final moments of the first episode, Lyles and Jacobs finally meet in the 100m and set into the blocks in Paris, side by side in lanes four and five.  

Brauman and Camossi anxiously await the race's fate. The gun goes off and the race is in slow-motion. 

Lyles' gold-tinted locks swing from left to right, Jacobs holds his drive phase, and then it's over. Lyles has won in 9.97 seconds. Camossi shakes his head. Jacobs walks off the track. 

"Technically, I set it up as perfectly as we could have had it," Lyles tells his mother over the phone shortly after the race. "It really was what I had been looking for, for a long time." 

Ato leaves us with the idea that Lyles must beat "the fastest men on the planet," at worlds. 

We all know how that finishes. 

Sprint's first episode is a quality introduction to the world of sprinting, into the minds and worlds of Lyles and Jacobs. Next up, Richardson, Shericka Jackson and the American vs. Jamaica subplots. 

Let's go! 

Episode 2: 'Queens' 

(Run time: 37 minutes)

The first shot we see of Sha'Carri Richardson is of her casually eating pretzels as crew members set up a microphone stand. 


Like the series' first episode with Noah Lyles, we get an assortment of quotes to begin our introduction to Richardson, a Texas native, former LSU sprinter and graduate of Dallas Carter High School, and she does not disappoint. 

"I am one of the fastest women in the world." 

"This is my world. They just in it." 

"Look good, feel good, do good." 

"You just looking at my world, if you don't like it, look away." 

It's perfect Sha'Carri and it's a perfect composition of Richardson as an athlete. She's confident. She's brazen. She really doesn't care what people think. 

"I've never seen anyone like her," Michael Johnson says at one point early in the episode, later adding, "Her sprinting when it's good ...it's just fucking good." 

Of course, while Richardson's 2023 season was nearly impeccable -- five wins in total across the 100 meter dash, including her World Championship win in Budapest -- her 2022 campaign was a bit of a mixed bag, as she bounced from the U.S. Championships. 

We only get a few snapshots of that season before it's full steam ahead. 

Soon, we're in Poland, and Richardson and teammate Twanisha Terry are talking about Ferraris, McLarens and Ashton Martins. 

Fast cars. Fast sprinters. See what they did there? 

"I work the hardest because I want to be in the front," Richardson said. 

We move back to Florida, and we meet Dennis Mitchell and the Star Athletics Club. We get into Mitchell's history with the U.S. team and his gold-medal in the 4x100 at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. We see him at home with his daughter and can understand the duality he plays, both as a coach and as a father wanting his daughter to succeed in this world. 

From there, the narrative shifts to USA vs. Jamaica and our guy Ato Boldon fills in the viewers with a general comparison. 

"Yankees vs. Red Sox," he says. 

"Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins," he adds.

Olympic gold medalists Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix chime in before we're in Kingston with Shericka Jackson, who we learn is the pride of Jamaican's track and field future. She does NOT want to answer questions about whether she's the future of the country's sprinting success. 

"Sprinting is the national sport in Jamaica," Johnson says. 

Here, we probably get our most vulnerable moment of the episode as we touch back on the 2021 Olympics. Jackson ran her first round poorly, failing to advance through the 200m -- we see headlines criticizing Jackson's performance. 

Jackson, 29, herself looks a bit nervous to be on camera -- maybe this just isn't her cup of tea. That dichotomy is all the more stark when you consider the first episode; the Americans thus far have been the driving forces of this documentary. They are brash and confident and offering the most pizazz. 

As we look into their results -- two Diamond League meetings in Paris and Silesia, Poland -- you can't say that their attitudes are at fault. 

"Having a persona in this sport, it helps with the reality," Richardson said. "...it helps directing that energy." 

Maybe there's something to that. Dennis Mitchell says as much. 

"If what we do as a group causes other individuals to fear us, we've had a good day." 

We end episode two with Richardson overcoming Jackson in the final 30 meters in Poland, winning in 10.76 seconds. 

Richardson beams a 100-megawatt smile and then we're off to episode three. 

Episode 3: 'Belonging'

(Run time: 33 minutes, 48 seconds)

We return to our main character, Noah Lyles, and watch as he faces his first perceived obstacle over the 2023 season: Getting beat in the 100 meter final at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in Eugene.

The scene forwards a week later, and perhaps for the first time we see some sign of Lyles feeling discontent. Lyles tells us later in the episode that he can read his competition; it's all in the eyes. On the flip side, though, we can also see when there are cracks in Lyles' facade. Vulnerability is human, which is relatable. That's what's missing here, Lyles' processing what went wrong. 

"You have to be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable, it's part of it," Lyles' coach Lance Brauman says at practice. 

Nevertheless, we make our way to London for the London Athletics Meet, another huge meeting on the Diamond League calendar. 

Lyles' mom, Keisha Caine Bishop, is back with us. We learn here that Lyles has some feelings about his two disciplines. 

"The 200m is my wife, the 100m is my mistress," he says. His mom further explains that the 100m might feel like a "side-chick" while the 200m will always be his one true love. 

Three days to race. 

We finally meet Zharnel Hughes, a newly-crowned British record-holder who beat Linford Christie's 100m record of 9.87 in New York with a 9.83 clocking at the New York Grand Prix -- that time would stand tied for the fastest in the world over the 2023 season, along with Lyles and Christian Coleman. 

"He's just become the fastest British man ever," Ato Boldon says. 

Naturally, we now zoom in on a promotional shoot with Hughes and Christie, the 1992 Olympic champion, who comments that his competitors used to DO ANYTHING they could to set him off once he was down in the blocks. Flicking a small piece of rubbish into your lane. Who does that? 

We're back to Noah and Lance, who are preparing for the men's 200m in London. 

"Zharnel will be in 7," Brauman says. 

"Lanes don't matter," Lyles replies. 

"You can work that pattern and see how it sets up from here." 

Not far away is Bishop, who's now at practice, and we begin to see the true connection Lyles has with his mother. She tells us that she once travelled all the way to Switzerland to see her son race for 19 seconds, only for a friend to tell her the real meaning of that trip: "Emotional support," she said. 

"My circle is so important," Lyles says. "They believe I could be the very best, that's why I'm so motivated to keep going." 

That was an important segment to learn from Lyles. 

We move to Hughes, who's playing a flight simulator game with his girlfriend, Shenel Francis. Boldon tells us Hughes is coached by Glenn Mills, who worked with the one and only Usain Bolt, and he adds that "their race models are very similar." 

One of Hughes' first races was in New York when he was 19 years old. He held a lane with Bolt and nearly upended the Jamaican. 

"I was star struck," Hughes said of the experience. "...I had to pinch myself. It was like a dream." 

In an important moment of character-building, we learn that Hughes was forced to deal with hardships when the media in Great Britain challenged his allegiance, writing headlines which blasted that he was a "Fake Brit" because he was born in Anguilla, a British colony. 

"It's not nice, man," Hughes said. "I almost had to prove myself, in a sense." 

"It felt a bit disgusting, honestly," he said. 

It didn't help that Hughes false-started out of the Olympic final in 2021, which only contributed to a domino effect, a series of false-starts at the British Athletic Champs, the Puerto Rico International Athletics Classic and the Birmingham Diamond League. 

We press on to the London Athletics Meet, where we learn that 50,000 people have bought tickets, "which means it's the largest one day athletics event in the world," organizers said. 

Noah gets asked a question on what it will take to win. "Whatever I run," he says. 

Hughes seems a bit confused by this moment in the press conference. He's not being hostile. "I rather to show up and show you that I'm ready as well," Hughes adds later in a bit of context. 

This is where we get the important Lyles quote, one that was used to market the series. 

"If you don't have main character energy, track and field isn't for you," he says. 

Ultimately, the brashness continues to enable Lyles in the moment. He surges past Hughes over the final meters to win in 19.47, which ended the year as the world's fastest time. Hughes breaks the British record, clocking a time of 19.73 -- also of note: Botswana's Letsile Tebogo, a fast-rising foil to Lyles who is not featured in the series, was second in 19.50. 

"I ain't letting go of her," Lyles says of the 200m. "She mine." 

Next stop, we're on to Budapest. 

Episode 4: 'Trials & Tribulations' 

(Run time: 41 minutes, 47 seconds)

The fourth episode of 'Sprint,' the track and field documentary by Netflix, darts off from Jamaica to the U.S., telling the stories of its various Jamaican and American stars, from Gabby Thomas and Sha'Carri Richardson to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah. 

But the real story here is Shericka Jackson. We started with Shericka in episode two, and we find ourselves compelled by Shericka in episode four -- even if she doesn't say much. 

That's not by accident. She's the athlete -- in this series, at least -- who's coming to terms the most with her growing star power. 

We meet her again several minutes into the episode after introductions to Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah, multiple-time Olympic champions and sprint powers for Jamaica. We learn that both Fraser-Pryce, 37, and Thompson-Herah, 32, grew apart while competing for MVP Track and Field under Stephen and Paul Francis, with success having a way of ballooning the divide. 

"Once you have two strong females going head to head for the same thing, and the other standing in the way, then they will develop problems with each other," Stephen Francis said. 

First it was first Shelly-Ann who decided to leave the group for the second time in 2020. A year later, Thompson-Herah did the same. Fraser-Pryce went to Reynaldo Walcott, while Thompson-Herah proceeded to work with her husband, Derron Herah. 

Each made decisions for their own reasons. 

Elaine hadn't come from much. She grew up in a small village in Jamaica and had dealt with criticism early in her life. But "I learned that never let nobody tell you you cannot," she said. Some fans didn't understand her move, but she added that "if you want to be great, you have to be selfish," and that "I'm not going to make a fool of myself. I can sprint on my own without MVP." 

Here's where Michael Johnson makes a comment about coaching. "Coaches are underrated," he said. 

Perhaps that's the point of the episode. Don't leave a good thing while it's still good? That while Fraser-Pryce and Thompons-Herah moved on, it was Jackson who stayed and saw the biggest growth.

Of course, we get back to that storyline after a minor detour in Austin, Texas to meet Gabby Thomas, the 200 meter runner and multiple-time U.S. champion. After significant progression, Thomas began to emerge in 2021 as the country's top hope at the distance. 

"I'm just a hard worker," Thomas said, trying to define her success. "And that's how I got into Harvard and that's how I made it to the Olympic team." 

Of course, Thomas has talent, too -- plus, she has Jamaican roots along her father's lines. She won the U.S. Olympic Trials at the 200m distance in 2021 and later was third in the Olympic final. While she failed to reach the World Championships in 2022, her 2023  season saw her on the upswing. 

She spoke about confidence. 

"I like having that kind of power over my opponents," she said. "It's part of the game of being a professional." 

We're back in Jamaica, again with Shelly-Ann, who's dancing in the falling sun but comments on feeling a bit counted out. 

"I'm gonna show the world that motherhood doesn't stop anything," she said. "It doesn't diminish who you are as a person. If anything, it enhances you, it makes you have like a super power." 

Fast forward to the 200m final. Jackson is running away from Fraser-Pryce. 

"I wanted to prove a point," Jackson says. "That I am among the world leaders. I am one of the best. And right now, I'm in the best shape of my life." 

We move again to Eugene and to Richardson, who is presented as a foil to Thomas in the 200m, but perhaps this is only for show because Thomas proceeds to run 21.51 in the U.S. final, which at that point was a new world lead. 

"At her core, there is a killer instinct that I have seen come out," Boldon says. 

Finally, we're back in Kingston for the last race of the episode, the women's 100m final at the Jamaican Championships. We get right down to business, with Jackson and Thompson-Herah in the final. 

The race begins and ends quite quickly, with Jackson clocking a new world lead of 10.65 seconds. 

"Now I am making a name for myself," Jackson says. 

One of the final scenes is of Thomspon-Herah walking off the track, vowing to be back. Though as we know, Thompson-Herah will not be at the Olympics after she withdrew from the Jamaican trials due to an achilles injury.

Episode 5: 'The Gold Standard' 

(Run time: 48 minutes, 7 seconds)

The strongest episode over the first season of Sprint takes place here in its fifth installment. 

Advancing the story to the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, we find the stakes as high as they've ever been, and it's here where we swing our focuses to a host of medal contenders, including our main character Lyles and Richardson, along with Marcell Jacobs, Shericka Jackson and a new face in Fred Kerley. 

Very few times over the series' run have I found myself really compelled by a character. But Kerley shakes things up. 

The Texas native enters the show as the defending champion of the 100 meters at the World Championships, and among the first quotes we hear from him is "I'm from Texas. Football was my first choice." 

It doesn't stop there. We next see Kerley sitting atop what looks to be a 4-wheeler as he sports a cowboy hat and the vast prairie around him. 

"But God had a watch and he told me track was gonna be my ticket to see the world," he says. 

The crux of this episode may begin by suggesting Lyles will challenge Kerley in a crucial World Championship race, but we never see that. Kerley comes up short in the semifinals in Budapest, and we instead see him exiting the track and walking alone in Budapest as international flags drape behind him.

Later, perhaps in an interview conducted many weeks after the championships, we hear from Kerley, who admits that he wasn't ready for the moment and suggests he will give up candy in 2024 to avenge his disappointment. 

Kerley is a fascinating character whose authenticity which drives the early part of the episode. At one point, Lyles, Gabby Thomas and others are mulling around in a back room. Lyles points a question at Kerley. 

"How many goats do you have now?" 

"It's just one, and it's me," says Kerley, who also admits he has cows, chickens and honey bees on a farm he owns. 

Kerley comments on Lyles' boastfulness. "I ain't come here to cheese to the camera. It's cool that he do it, but I'm here to run fast, to kill you, bust your head and go about my business." 

His appearance comes quick, it ends quick, but it also leaves you wanting more. 

Nevertheless, though, we do proceed. 

And it's not just Kerley who exits the series. In a brief few minutes, Marcell Jacobs is out, too. The Italian comes up short in his semifinal. "The 100m is terrible if you are not 100 percent," he says.

Lyles, of course, does not falter. The American only gets stronger through the round.

His advancement through the semifinals only furthers a thought he had from earlier in the episode, when he questioned why the general public was so divided by his personal ambitions of 9.65 and 19.10 in the 100m and 200m. 

"The amount of hate was astronomical," he says of that Tweet on X, later adding, "What the heck does me saying my goal have to do with you?" 

With the final set and Lyles and Zharnell Hughes into the 100m final, Lyles' quest for the sprint double is still intact. 

So we head over to the women. 

We find Shericka Jackson in her hotel room with Lyles' girlfriend, Junelle Bromfield, who's working on preparing Jackson's wig. 

"Junelle wants me to branch out," Jackson says, referring to the burgundy hair she will sport for the 100m final. 

She comments on how she's progressed since her failure in the Olympic rounds in 2021. "I have so much mental power," she says, "I have to use it." 

In the final minutes of episode five, we divvy up time between her and Richardson. 

Richardson's arc, however, begins where we least expect it ...in the press room. With LetsRun reporter Jon Gault lobbing a question to Richardson about her strong response after a tough 2022, she rolls her eyes and says, "But the fact that I'm sitting here now. It's just the difference between now and then is just staying dedicated and focused, blocking out the noise, blocking out media like yourself." 

Richardson's obstruction to the media is nothing new, but maybe it's less a character flaw than a body armor she manifests to survive the cutthroat world of track and field. 

"You get what you get and you get what you give," she says. 

Richardson almost doesn't survive the 100m semifinal round, finishing third in her heat. But her time is fast enough to push her into the finals. 

Her coach, Dennis Mitchell, understands that the next minutes with Richardson could be the difference between a win, a medal and a finish. 

"The time we have to get ready for the final is about 20 minutes," he says, "so the thing I'm going to choose to work on is her start." 

As the pair walk to the stadium one last time, he grabs her close and whispers into her ear. "Who's the fastest?" 

"I am," she says. 

Richardson is placed in lane nine, but it doesn't matter. She wins the second half of the race, pushes past Shelly-Ann Pryce and Jackson and walks away with her first World Championship. 

When Are The Paris 2024 Olympic Games?

The Olympics begin on July 26 and end on August 11. The track and field events will begin on Aug. 1. 

FloTrack Is The Streaming Home For Many Track And Field Meets Each Year

Don't miss all the track and field season action streaming on FloTrack. Check out the FloTrack schedule for more events.

FloTrack Archived Footage

Video footage from each event will be archived and stored in a video library for FloTrack subscribers to watch for the duration of their subscriptions.

Join The Track & Field Conversation On Social