Director and editor
Made with the support of adidas and the BFI, Personal Best received a nationwide cinema release and was longlisted for the British Film Awards.
Filmed over four years, Personal Best follows up-and-coming British sprinters on their journey from the grassroots of athletics to the international stage. The film is both a gripping portrait of the athletes in training and competition, and a deeply personal account of their lives unfolding – revealing victory, defeat, agony, ecstasy and the simple trials of growing up.

On the eve of the 2012 Olympics, this film tells the stories of Britain's young sprinters as they strive towards their dreams. This is an inspiring but genuine portrait of Britain's youth and a penetrating study of the art of sprinting, peeling back the layers so we can finally understand everything it means to them as they wait on the start line for the gun to fire.

'Beautifully observed, elegantly shot and carefully paced, Personal Best is a powerful documentary debut from NFTS graduate Sam Blair that focuses on four London-based sprinters and the gruelling, life-defining regimes that will lead them, or not, into this summer's Olympic Games. Filmed over a four-year period (and adapted from Blair's own graduation short), Personal Best manages that rare feat of being socially conscientious yet also artistic, and unafraid to posit huge questions about destiny and the capacity for human change. For example, the film clearly cares about James Ellington, one of its sprinter subjects, and it examines his hard-knock background, and his difficult relationship with his bullish father. But it also, through slow-motion montages and endless loving close-ups, seems to be trying to break through to his very soul. An unusual film. And unexpectedly good.' – The Times

'An elegant and moving sports documentary on the eve of the Olympics, Personal Best is also an unflinching look at the devotion that defines and creates ambitious homegrown athletes today. Following four London-based sprinters as they train for a place, hopefully, at the big ‘O’, Sam Blair’s film balances gritty back stories with slow-mo’ transcendence and a quiet sense of wonder.' – The Saturday Times

'A unique film, truly about achievement over success' – Financial Times

'Motivational viewing, captures the blood sweat and ceaseless commitment' – Daily Express

'Stirring homegrown documentary' – The Telegraph

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