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Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story (1996)

Truth IS stranger than fiction. Olympic gold medal hurdler Gail Devers almost lost her feet to a mysterious disease after being picked for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She failed to qualify for... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Gail Devers
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Bob Kersee
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Jackie Joyner-Kersee
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RJ Hampton
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Mrs. Devers
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Dr. Ginsburg
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Dr. Otis
Melba Joyce ...
Aunt Sarah Banks
Reed R. McCants ...
Photographer
Gregory Mortensen ...
Doctor #1
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Doctor #2
Sandra Nelson ...
Doctor #3
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ER Doctor
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Paramedic (as Cheryl Harrington)
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Storyline

Truth IS stranger than fiction. Olympic gold medal hurdler Gail Devers almost lost her feet to a mysterious disease after being picked for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She failed to qualify for the finals as the disease (Graves Disease) left her feet swollen, cracked, and oozing blood. After two years, doctors were on the verge of amputating when it was discovered that radiation treatment was making it worse. Gail Devers eventually recovered and went on to win the 100m in Barcelona; she might have won the 100m-hurdles if she hadn't tripped on the final hurdle. She also competed in and won the sprint at Atlanta. Written by David Kinne <davros@gargoyle.apana.org.au>

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Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief language and some sexuality | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

16 June 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Godspeed  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Soapy And Melodramatic Sports Biopic
20 September 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Sudsy biopic of sprinter Gail Devers comes up short largely due to flawed, uncertain storytelling. Movie begins with Devers' rapid rise to fame and attempts to show her hidden angst (marital strife, pressures to perform, mysterious weight issues) but mainly catalogues a series of soap operatic weep-pieces. We want to sympathize with Dever's profound health swings but because the filmmakers never really get to her personality, inner drive and feelings, we never really connect with her. Yes, she's worried about her weight, but what's behind it? She has problems with her husband, but what drove them apart? In particular, complex key relationships with her husband and parents are broached but ultimately little more than glossed over. The good cast features a strangely muted Louis Gossett Jr. as her coach, an almost entirely wasted Robert Guillaume as her smothering father and a game but not script-supported Charlayne Woodard as Devers.

One plus is the training sequence following Devers' slow descent into bloated foot hell. The sequence only lasts a few minutes but kicks the movie momentarily into inspirational high gear with Gossett winningly coaxing Woodard to take the painful first steps back into her life. There is heart in these scenes and the swelling music momentarily brings hope that things will dramatically improve. Unfortunately, the story abruptly flashes forward to the next Olympics and anti-climactically documents her gold medal. This is a tragic mis-step because the very best part of the movie is the portion they spend the least amount of time on. While we get her gold medal, there is a sense that we have not been sufficiently rewarded for all the time we've had to endure sitting through all of Devers' pain.

The meat of a good sports movie is as often in the individual's striving, their motivational mindgames and the unique quirks which endear them to us as it is in the actual event in which they compete. In this case, the filmmakers chose to focus on the dregs of Devers' life and ran them into the ground, almost completely ignoring her road back, which is the far more compelling story. What made Devers the way she is? What made her refuse the medicine that could have saved her years of pain and near amputation? We have guesses (internally created pressures and complex ambivalent feelings for her coach / husband / father) but the movie mainly sensationalizes these incidents rather than really examining them. The result is an unsatisfying diet version of a harrowing story which upsets us but never really moves us. 4 / 10


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