The Equalizer is a one hour television documentary premiering in March 2016, and an original idea/format that will power a several more documentaries in the years to come.

At its core, The Equalizer asks these questions: In a world where athletic records are broken every year, are today’s champions really better than the legendary athletes of the past?  Or do modern record setters get their edge from the latest sports technology?  To find out, The Equalizer conducts practical on-the-field experiments with the participation of some of today’s top athletes and world record holders.

The first Equalizer documentary is an episode of The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, premiering on Thursday, March 3 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC-TV.

The episode introduces top UK sports scientist Steve Haake (our on-camera investigator), who travels to Canada, Germany and the USA to meet five modern champions.  They show him their high tech gear and training methods.  Then Steve matches each of them with a top athlete of the past, provides them with historically accurate old-school sports equipment, and challenges each modern athlete to compete against a legend on a playing field.

  • Sprinter Andre De Grasse races against 1936 Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, while wearing replicas of Owens’ shoes and running on a 1930s-era track.
  • Track cyclist Sarah Hammer rides a vintage bike to compete against 1960s-era World Champion Beryl Burton.
  • 200 meter freestyle world record holder Paul Biedermann trades his high-tech full-body suit for a 1970s-era Speedo to compete against nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz.
  • Javelin thrower Christina Obergföll picks up an old-school javelin to compete against 1980s world record holder Fatima Whitbread.
  • Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden trades his computer-designed carbon fibre kayak for a vintage wooden kayak to challenge 1940s-era Swedish eight-time Olympic medalist Gert Fredriksson.

Who wins and who loses is always surprising, revealing and completely unpredictable.  What emerges is a new understanding of the impact of technology on sport, and a new appreciation for the dedication of athletes of every era, who share the conviction that records are made to be broken.


The Equalizer (#1) is an episode of CBC’s The Nature of Things co-produced by Kensington Communications (Canada) and Berlin Producers (Germany) for broadcast on CBC-TV’s THE NATURE OF THINGS (Canada), SRC (Quebec), Ici Explora (Quebec), ZDF (Germany), Arte (Germany/France) and other international broadcasters. Robert Lang is Executive Producer and Producer for Kensington Communications. Kristian Kaehler is Executive Producer for Berlin Producers. The Equalizer is directed by Rebecca Snow, written by Allen Booth, and narrated by David Suzuki.