TO excel in a chosen field, you need to be challenged, pushed to the limit of human endurance to find previously untapped reserves of strength and courage.
For this reason, sport is littered with bitter rivalries between incredible champions, whose desire to win – regardless of the consequences and the physical risks – inspires awe and devotion.
Take the battle of athleticism and skill between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe which electrified tennis courts, or the Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert showdowns.
Some of the fiercest rivalry, though, has been contested on Formula 1 racetracks. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost clashed in and out of their machines, compelling the French driver to declare that "Senna wanted to destroy me".
In the 1970s, rubber burnt and tempers frayed between two very different drivers: charismatic ladies' man James Hunt and ambitious Austrian speed fiend Niki Lauda.
Their daredevil duels reached a horrifying crescendo at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring when Lauda's Ferrari burst into flames, trapping him in the inferno. An incredible six weeks later, Lauda emerged from hospital with extensive scarring, determined to prevent Hunt from claiming the chequered flag at Monza.
This incredible story of courage and resilience is dramatised in Rush, Ron Howard's superb biopic that charts the rivalry between Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, pictured) and Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) from their early days through to the glamour of the Formula 1 circus.
The two men have very different approaches to their craft. Hunt relishes the trappings of fame, proposing to his first wife, model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), on the spur of the moment then allowing excesses to poison their relationship and drive her into the arms of Richard Burton. Lauda is devoted to testing, working his mechanics into the ground to shave a few hundreds off lap times at the expense of relationships.
Howard's film paints a vivid portrait of men who lived on the edge in an era when racing was genuinely a dance of death.
Rush is showing at the Tivoli, Tiverton, all this week. For tickets and timings call 01884 255554. For the Wellesley, Wellington, see panel opposite.