A BBC series named after the Olympic motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger" explores the history of the modern Olympic Games through the stories of extraordinary athletes who have won gold medals over the years. The series is in four parts, starting on Monday, 9 July at 1900 BST with an examination of the 100m race. Usain Bolt’s massive stride allowed him to destroy the 100m field to win gold in 2008 at the Beijing Games in a world record time of 9.69 seconds. The win confirmed Jamaica as the world powerhouse of sprinting.
British sprinter Harold Abrahams spent hours practising how to react to the starting gun in preparation for the 1924 Paris Olympics. It paid off – he won gold in the 100m in a time of 10.6 seconds.
Paavo Nurmi was the original "Flying Finn". In 1924 he won gold in both the 1500m and 5,000m. Amazingly, both finals were run on the same day but Nurmi had famously trained for stamina.
In 1936, Jesse Owens spoiled Hitler’s party in Berlin with a run of such breathtaking elegance on the unforgiving cinder track that it set the style of sprinting for decades to come. He won the 100m in a time of 10.3 seconds.
The second programme goes out on Tuesday, 10 July and explores the never-ending pursuit of perfection in gymnastics. Legendary Japanese gymnast Sawao Kato set an Olympic record by winning eight gold medals. He was a member of the Japanese men’s team which won three consecutive all-round team golds in 1968, 1972 and 1976.
Olga Korbut is remembered for her impish charm. But the Soviet gymnast also brought new levels of risk and danger to her sport, on her way to multiple golds at the Munich Games in 1972.
Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci created history in Montreal in 1976, her Olympic debut at the age of 14. In her 20-second exercise on the beam she scored a perfect 10, winning gold in the process. Five other perfect 10s followed.
The third episode on Wednesday 11 July focuses on the 1500m or "metric mile". This was the race that gave Britain its finest Olympic hour in Los Angeles in 1984 when three British world champions competed for gold - Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram. There are contributions from Kip Keino, Herb Elliot, Peter Snell, Seb Coe (pictured) and the current world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj. The programme shows that to win 1500m gold, athletes need the stamina of marathon runners, the explosive speed of the best sprinters and the tactical brains of chess masters.
The fourth programme is about swimming and goes out on Thursday, 12 July. American swimmer Mark Spitz was the first of the "super swimmers" who competed in all four strokes. At the Munich Games of 1972 he won a then-record haul of seven gold medals. Faster, Higher, Stronger - BBC Two: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00v9bs4