an NFSA website

What Makes a Champion (1959)


This sporting documentary made by the Shell Film Unit Australia answers the question ‘What makes a champion?’ by analysing championship performance and investigating the qualities in elite athletes that give them the ability to win.

It focuses on six key areas: physique, aptitude, technique, stamina, strength and temperament. It also includes demonstrations by a number of Australian Olympic athletes.

Curator’s notes

An informational and educational documentary, What Makes a Champion is one of the Shell Company of Australia’s forays into films about sports. The Shell Film Unit made documentaries across a wide range of subject areas including the environment, natural resources, primary and secondary industries, aviation and travel but also took an active interest in athletics and motoring.

The Shell Film Unit Australia was one of Australia’s most accomplished documentary film units working in the 1940s and 1950s. The Shell Company of Australia had been sponsoring documentaries since the 1920s and has built up a large library of film and video products produced over this time.