Note: In this episode, we discuss discovery, treatment, and life with an eating disorder. If you would like more information about screenings, support, and treatment for eating disorders, please visit the National Eating Disorders Association for more information.

While getting to the Olympics is an incredible achievement, transitioning to life after sport can be complicated and difficult. On this episode, we welcome back TKFLASTANI and Olympian Samantha Schultz, who’s one of the subjects in Johanna Garton’s latest book All in Stride.

Sammy competed in modern pentathlon at Tokyo 2020, finishing 21st. The last time we talked with her, she was just back from Tokyo and finishing up her tour in the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

Since then, Sammy’s transition to non-competitive life has been a big adjustment–first, getting over some injuries, and then understanding that during her years as an elite athlete, she had developed an eating disorder. During the summer of 2023, Samantha sought professional help through an in-patient treatment program. After graduating from this program, she’s continued to work on her recovery.

Samantha shares her journey with us and what she’s learned from her experience as an elite athlete. You can follow her on Insta and YouTube.

We have a lot of other news to bring you up to speed in the Olympic and Paralympic world:

  • Paris 2024 will have another ticket drop on April 17 at 10am CEST – all sports will be available!
  • The Eiffel Tower will be sporting Olympic rings.
  • There are more water quality issues in the Seine, enough that Surfrider has written an open letter to the Organizing Committee about them.
  • Serbia will have its first-ever Hospitality House at Paris 2024.
  • World Athletes dropped a bombshell on the sporting world with the introduction of payments for gold medalists.
  • General Mills Canada is supporting Paralympians — look for special cereal boxes soon!
  • A fire at the Montreal Olympic Stadium has caused upheaval in the training plans of many Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes/hopefuls, including TKFLASTANIs Alison Levine and Jacqueline Simoneau.
  • LA 2028 will be announcing venue changes to its program over the coming year.
  • The International Olympic Committee is developing a framework around support for under-age (minor) ahtletes.

In news from TKFLASTAN, we hear from:

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

Note: This post contains affiliate links — if you purchase something through that link, we may receive a commission. This greatly supports the effort to keep our flame alive.

 


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

 

332-After the Olympics with Samantha Schultz

Jill: Hello and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics.

If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week, we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I’m your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello. How are you?

Alison: Here we are again, unraptured. World didn’t end.

No, because the games have to go on. Yeah, you know, I was a little disappointed with the eclipse.

Jill: Should have been in Cleveland.

Alison: I should have been in Cleveland.

Jill: Totality here was fantastic. It was just an amazing experience. If you have not seen a total eclipse, it really is impressive when you see it, when you are able to see totality and see how just that aura.

And we had a ton of solar flares and it was just unbelievably beautiful. I was very fortunate that book club Claire came down to Cleveland and saw it with me. So that was very exciting. And then, you know, speaking of sun and flame, the flame’s coming,

Alison: the flame is coming and it’s going to be on the water and it’s going to go to many countries.

We got, that flame is getting ready.

Jill: Exactly. And we just got to keep it going. And before we get to this week’s show, give a shout out to those people who keep our flame alive, our Shukla Stanis, our patrons, supporters, we do appreciate that, but what’s also helpful is if you tell a friend about the show, because that really makes sure we can stay vibrant and vital for a long time, especially post Olympics.

So please do tell a friend about the show and, you can also check out other ways to support us at flame alive, pod. com slash support.

[00:02:14] Samantha Schultz Interview

Jill: Great interview today. This is it. You might need your puffs. Give you a puffs alert. We’re giving you a trigger warning for, uh, eating disorder chat. But, we are so excited to have Samantha Schultz back with us.

We love it when Shukla Stani’s return on the show. Sammy, if you remember competed in modern pentathlon in Tokyo, finishing 21st. She’s one of the subjects in Joanna Garten’s book, All in Stride. And we talked with her about her time in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and the eating disorder she developed during her competitive career.

So trigger warning, we do get into , the details about eating disorders and body dysmorphia. It’s, uh, really important and powerful conversation to hear. So take a listen. Samantha Schultz, thank you so much for coming back on the show. Welcome back.

Samantha Schultz: Thank you. It’s so glad to be back. And, um, it’s just crazy how many years it’s been.

Jill: It really is. And it’s so nice to be able to touch base with people, even after the Olympics, because you’re part of team, keep the flame alive.

And we do like , to maintain contact. So , it’s fun to be able to see what happens next and what happens next and what happens next in people’s lives. so. After Tokyo and getting out of the army because as we talked with you after Tokyo, but just before you were done with your army service, you know, your life outside of family completely changed.

How was navigating that transition for you looking back a couple of years?

Samantha Schultz: Uh, wow. It was a really hard transition. and I was kind of forced to make that decision fairly quickly because my timeframe for active duty was coming up in December and the games finished up pretty much end of August or mid August.

And I was just kind of riding that high after the Olympics of, Oh, another three years because the Olympics were postponed. I was like another three years. I can do this. I was excited, but you kind of forget all that work and all the sacrifice and everything that goes on. And I think I was kind of just in denial of how exhausted and tired I was and how worn down my body was.

I just wasn’t taking care of myself. I had such a big goal and I’m one of those people that goes all in on everything. So for me, it was just a hard transition of. Okay. Maybe pentathlon might not be my answer, but what if I did running or what if I did triathlon? So it was kind of like, I was still trying to stay in it, but knowing that like my body just wasn’t there.

And I was so depleted just after all the training through COVID training on my own a lot of the times. And I think my husband was just like, I want to start a family with you. And at that point, I hadn’t really had a cycle, my period for about seven years. And that was when it really hit me that I needed to put my health first and my marriage first.

And that was when I was like, okay, I’m going to take a step back. I ended up joining a unit with national guard, which I think was helpful. It still kind of gave me a little bit of purpose where I was having drill. once a month and so tied in with the military, but I still had a really hard time letting go of the exercise and wanting to exercise more and more.

I was like, one workout’s not enough. I need to do more. Like I was so used to doing so much training and coming into a new role as a Pilates instructor and fitness instructor. I just felt like I didn’t have any traction. And I didn’t, I was so low on the totem pole. And as an athlete, you’re You’re top of the line. You’re one of the best. And then to go down, I think that was just really hard for me to grasp. And I didn’t feel like I was good at anything anymore. and so I really just didn’t want to give it up because it was all I really ever knew.

Alison: I want to ask a little bit about your periods and please tell me if it’s too personal. Did that feel normal to not have a period for so long? Like, was that what was happening among the athletes around you as well?

Samantha Schultz: I didn’t really have a ton of close female athletes to really talk to about. So it was mostly just anytime I’d go in and get lab work done.

I was like, you know, I haven’t had a period. Is this weird? Is this odd? No, you’re just super active. That’s probably pretty normal. and so it was just kind of normalized, especially being a multi sport athlete, like you’re doing so much. And I think that too, of not being able to really talk with a ton of female athletes.

That I just wasn’t very connected with other athletes in other realms and even in my sport. So I didn’t really know if like that was, I thought it was just normal for me cause it had been so long.

Jill: Did you end up changing doctors at all? afterwards and find out that, oh, it’s really probably not normal for me to have this?

Samantha Schultz: So I went to a fertility specialist because after a while when I was training less and I had put on a little bit of weight, just knowing that my body probably needed a little bit more, um, Needed more substance.

And I needed, I mean, when you’re peak performing, you’re pretty lean. And, um, so my body probably just needed a little bit more on me just for that energy system for my period to come back. And after gaining a little bit of weight, really trying to cut out just multiple workouts and really cut back on exercise.

I still wasn’t getting my period. And so I went into fertility specialist and, we met with my husband and myself and him, and he started asking about my past and some of my history of, he’s like, how do you eat? How much do you exercise? And he was actually the one that was kind of like, you know, I think, you know, You probably kind of have some disordered eating habits.

And I think we really, you know, you might need to start working. He wanted to talk to my primary care provider with the army who I was seeing and talk to him to see what else we could really do, try to get me to talk to a therapist or a specialist that might be able to help me out more. And that was when I spoke to the previous doctor I had, and I was just having tons of anxiety, trying to let go of everything.

Sport, athletics, wasn’t getting my period back. I was like, what’s wrong with me? I’m trying to do all the things, but I don’t really know. And that’s when the primary care doctor, after he spoke with the fertility specialist, he’s like, yeah, you have an eating disorder. I’m pretty sure you had an eating disorder.

The strength coaches through WCAP actually thought that you had an eating disorder, and I was just in shock because I thought what I was doing was so normal as an athlete. You try to do you try to eat clean. You’re trying to do the best you can to gain that 1 percent gain in whatever you’re doing.

And when he said that, I was like, well, if they saw that I was having these habits and like these things, and they were worried about me, why didn’t they say anything or why wasn’t their concern? and maybe it’s just like, that subject is still so difficult when it comes to women in sport. And how do you tell someone, Hey, we’re worried about you.

I think you need to try this. especially when you’re, you know, really close to the Olympics. Changing things up can be really hard. , so part of me was just kind of in shock of hearing that and sad. because I ultimately was just like, I’ve sabotaged myself and my body. Am I even going to be able to make up for this?

What am I going to have to do to get my body healthy to function and to have a family and children later on in life?

Alison: Did anyone throughout your career ever say anything to you about eating disorders?

Samantha Schultz: No, I really didn’t have any, like to me, it was like, okay, yeah, this is if you’re an athlete, you just kind of, and I guess I would get questions from people of, oh, I’m sure you can eat anything you want as an athlete.

And I kind of was like, no, I still have to. put good things in my body and it’s like you put good things in, you’re going to get good things out. And I think I just took it to a whole new level. And especially during COVID when everything was so out of control, that’s where like that grasp on anything that I could control started to really come in.

And so I didn’t think what I was doing. was disordered, weighing my food, weighing myself every day, all these things of just so many aspects where it just consumed so much of my life. And I thought that’s just how I needed to be, to be better.

Alison: After you were diagnosed with a disordered eating, did you get other people saying to you, Oh, I was worried. Oh, I had this thought and you just want to scream. Why didn’t you say anything?

Samantha Schultz: I had a lot of people that reached out and they were like, you know, we, we saw you, like I was trying to share my journey on social media and even people that were seeing me in My husband, even he was right there and he could see it, but anytime he would try to bring it up to me, I would get super defensive.

I would justify it. Um, say I need to do this for the Olympics. I need to do this for my training. And he was just like, I can’t, she can’t see it. And she really just has this goal she wants to do. So. Like in some way, he’s like, okay, just get it to the Olympics in one piece. And then afterwards, afterwards was when he really started hitting it a little bit harder of like, Sammy, this isn’t normal.

Like you can’t keep doing this. You can’t use the Olympics as an excuse anymore. Why are you still doing this to your body? And that’s when I think for me, More of that, resistance and trying to fight back was showing that like, I really believe that this is the way that I need to be. And it’s like, when I started believing that and it just was like what anyone else told me, it was like, no, that’s not true.

Like just the denial of it, I think was partly where I was at. And I just didn’t want to kind of accept it because I thought it was just normal.

Jill: Did that tie in to your decision to retire officially. last year versus retire officially right after Tokyo.

Samantha Schultz: Yes. I wanted to wait and see kind of how my body did.

cause I think I, I was still sending in all my USADA stuff. I was like, I don’t want to do this yet. I don’t want to send in the letter. I’m not, I’m not ready. And I think USA Pentathlon was kind of like, Okay, you know, you’re not really competing in training. We’re not, we’re not putting in a spot for you to train at the training center anymore.

We can’t pay for you if we don’t have commitment. But in my head, I was like, you know, let me give myself at least six months, try and get my period back, see if my body heals up. And it was almost just like everything got worse. my knees started hurting more, my ankle. And, even just over time, Doing less training and it’s like, I wasn’t doing nothing.

So I’m sure my body just needed a little bit more rest and recovery. but things almost just seem to get worse. And that was where I was like, I, I’m not going to be able to do this. And my marriage and my life and my future is more important than trying to go to another Olympics as much as I would have, Love to try and improve my performance and do all that.

But it just kind of like, it made me see there was a lot of other areas in my life that I really needed to, to focus on. And I’m, I have a hard time, especially with pentathlon and multi sport. I it’s hard to be all in with five things. It consumes so much of your life. And I was, I have a hard time being like one foot in this door, one foot in that door.

so I think for me, that was the best decision. It just took me a minute before I was like, Yeah, this is what needs to happen.

Alison: Where was that timing in terms of your treatment? Was that after you had done the extensive? Inpatient or before?

Samantha Schultz: That was before. So I officially retired before I went into treatment.

I had done some different kinds of medication for anxiety and when I went off of them thinking I was going to be okay, that’s when my eating disorder got a lot worse and just everything. It was almost like the anxiety medication was just kind of making me flat. I just felt awful. And when I went off of that, a lot of things got worse.

I couldn’t, I couldn’t stop behaviors. I couldn’t stop working out. I think it was just the only way I knew how to cope with. What was all, what, everything that was going on. And that’s when I knew it was like, I need to get more help for this. And that’s really hard saying that you need to get help for something.

, especially as an athlete, you’re like asking for help or showing vulnerability, sometimes that means you’re weak or you’re not going to be able to make it, even though it’s like. That vulnerability is what allows us to open up and receive that help that we need. And I think I just had to, had to learn that.

And a part of going to treatment is your eating disorder thrives in secrecy. And that’s a really big thing that I’ve been trying to work on now is knowing that I can be vulnerable and open about this and try to help other people because they don’t need to be alone in it. And it’s actually probably worse if they’re trying to deal with it alone.

Jill: What was the response from your husband and family when you said, Hey, I need more help.

Samantha Schultz: My husband had been pushing me to go to rehab or treatment, pretty much right after the Olympics, he really was pushing me to try and do that. And I think he knew that He had to take a backseat. Once I started going to a therapist, a dietitian and working more on it, he’s like, okay, she’s trying this.

I still see issues, but I can’t be the one to force her to do this. And I think that was where, when I finally made that decision, he’s like, okay. She really does. I think he was second guessing whether I wanted to start a family, and actually be with him longterm, which I don’t want to make him seem like a bad person, but it was kind of like, she’s still doing this stuff.

She’s still doing this stuff. I don’t see, I see progress, but you know, as you get older, you’re like, okay, you know, when are, when are we going to kind of move on and move fastest? And so I think he was secretly. relieved, but also very scared because that meant like me leaving me not being home. And I think my parents too were just a little in shock of, we didn’t realize it was this bad.

We didn’t know that you were really struggling this much. And I think just, I hit a lot really well. And I think that they were worried about me as they saw me at kind of throughout getting closer to the Olympics with my weight. getting lower and getting leaner, but yeah, it’s just a lot of times when you’re not there to see what happens day in and day out, you really don’t know what’s actually going on.

Alison: So what did that inpatient treatment look like for you? , and especially as an athlete where you’ve been watching all this food for so long. and to, to sort of mix those two things. What did that look like?

Samantha Schultz: Oh man, I was so nervous. I, I think I was in the waiting room before going up into treatment.

I was like, I just want to go home. I don’t want to do this. I had them at my backpack. I was doing partial hospitalization programs. So they call it PHP. Um, there’s also what they call intensive outpatient program, but you have to go through the PHP program first. to go into the outpatient or the intensive outpatient.

And so there was a house that they let, the clients, patients stay at. And so I plan to stay there in Denver. and ED care in Denver is a facility that also has an athlete program. And that was primarily why I chose to go there because I knew that exercise was a part of my eating disorder.

And if I couldn’t address that, then I didn’t really feel that that was going to address the whole picture of everything. So a part of that of going there was knowing that I’d be in groups with other people, whether they were college athletes, Olympic athletes, any level, or just people that understood that aspect of sport.

and so kind of the first day you come in and I mean, there’s people at all different stages of their recovery that they’ve been there a week, two weeks, five weeks, two months. And so you’re just like overwhelmed with the whole thing in general. And you get brought in and your meals are plated and out for you, and you don’t get any choice of what you get to eat.

So that really challenged me to eat different foods, getting out of a routine of, you know, Weighing out my food or having control of portions, all those things like that, and then just having different groups where you talk about how you feel, talk about all the things from your past, really vulnerable and being in those groups with all the other athletes too, and people who are non athletes, it’s just eating disorders.

Don’t have. they don’t have a specific person, a gender, a size. it can be men, women, whatever you are. And I think just seeing that of, I thought there was such a stigma of like what an eating disorder had to look like for me to get help. And that wasn’t true. And there was points in time where I was like, I would much rather go back to basic training.

Because I felt like that was just, I had, I was moving. I just felt like I had more of a purpose whereas there you’re like talking about your feelings. And I was like, I’m exhausted. I haven’t done anything today, but sit in groups and talk about my feelings. And. I’m exhausted because I’m not used to doing stuff like that.

And so it was a very big shift of being open and vulnerable and, really just letting go, letting go of control and throughout that process, I did the partial hospitalization program and then you gradually progress. I went two weeks without any kind of movement. Um, so completely eliminated that.

And then gradually started increasing walking. They have a strength and conditioning coach that you start to work with. Eventually I started doing some walk runs and incorporating joyful movement, like going bowling or something or doing things that I really, I hadn’t really done joyful movement.

It was always training for me. So that was a long story, but it’s, it really is a big process. And I was like, I’ll be there for two months. And nope, it, there’s a lot more that you have to break through and break down after. I mean, probably 12 years of doing sport, that I had just had so much ingrained in my head of what was normal that I really had to break a lot of those habits and just learn different ways and talking about my feelings, feeling my feelings.

Um, and they integrated family therapy as well. So my husband was incorporated in some of that, as well as my parents and my sister. So I think that really helps too. Now I have a much solid Much more solid support system when it comes to that and people who I can open up to and that kind of know now, Oh, this is something that we might need to look out for.

If we start seeing this again to be like, Hey, we know what’s going on and you’re doing okay. So kind of having those people to check in on you if you go back and slip into kind of some of your old habits.

Alison: Did your competitive nature help you or hurt you in your ED treatment?

Samantha Schultz: Uh, I would say it hurt me because I just wanted to kind of get in, check the boxes and get out and say, I did this. I’m done. I’m good. I’m healed. don’t have an eating disorder anymore. And just wanting to have like a timeline on things as an athlete, you’re like, okay, I have a competition here, so I need to train.

This, this, this, and this. And like, I have something I’m looking forward to, but treatment, you don’t know, like, there’s not a set date that you’re going to discharge or get out. , they really just go on a week to week basis on what your progress is and your whole team needs. And so I think that competitive nature of like, I just want to know what I’m going towards and work towards.

It kind of feels like you have to, you really just have to let go of that timeline, which has an athlete. You’re like, no, I need to know, like I need a timeline. I need. to lay everything out. but that’s not how recovery works.

Jill: How is it working in a team, in a sense, for recovery versus you’re in an individual sport, very small sport in the U. S. and probably highly competitive with other athletes. what’s that like? Because it seems like that kind of nature, even though I see a plus side to individual sports, but there’s also a lot of isolation. So what is it like trying to transition from kind of a sole focus to, hey, I’m part of a team that’s helping me.

Samantha Schultz: I noticed when I first came into treatment, I was very guarded and. I put up my walls, which was kind of a defense mechanism of, I don’t want to get hurt and I’m protecting myself. And I think I did that just because I felt like if I did open up to my coaches in the past or teammates or something, I I felt like it wasn’t received well, or it was used against me.

And so I think I just had a lot of trust issues when it came to opening up to either other women, other men, people in authority over me. And so I really had to work on that of letting my guard down, learning to trust people and a lot of the women and a lot of the other people and just other patients that were there, I became very close with them.

And to know that like I can build relationships with people and I can trust people and it, other people can be safe. I think it was just eyeopening to me. And I always thought of myself as like, yeah, I’m very independent. I just do a lot of stuff on my own. And I think that that was just me protecting myself.

So that really taught me. I mean, I still keep in touch with a lot of the other people from, from treatment and we’re there for each other. We support each other. And I think it’s nice to have that. And to, especially ones that were in the athlete group to kind of know that, You know, we’re all at different stages of our lives, whether you’re in college or there’s, you’re even like almost in your forties, it’s, you’re, you’re at very different stages, but to know that like we could all still come together and find ways that to support one another and feel that you can trust someone and be vulnerable and open.

Alison: I’m not surprised there’s an athlete group. I’m kind of happy to hear that. But now looking back on, on your career, how much do you feel like This is everywhere in elite sport.

I definitely think it’s, it’s in a lot of places and it gets so normalized or things go unseen. And a lot of times it’s like coaches sometimes only see you at practice.

Samantha Schultz: And so they may not know what you’re doing behind the scenes as far as nutrition, other exercise outside of your training sessions. And so I think that’s where. you have to break down that barrier and communicate with your coach and if not your coach or other teammates and have that, like that camaraderie to be able to open up and for, For you to feel that it’s not bad if I need help with something.

It’s not bad if something doesn’t feel right. It’s okay to ask for help and support. And I think that goes with having a really solid team when it comes to dietician, physical therapist, or a PT, a coach, they all need to be communicating about what’s going on and working together because I think a lot can just slip under the cracks of someone that might have a concern and there’s just not that talk about what’s going on or even a teammate to say, Hey, you know, what’s going on? Are you okay? Just to like, talk to you, not to pinpoint and say, I think you have an eating disorder. That’s very direct. And so there’s other ways to go about ways to show concern, to not make someone defensive.

, I think that was a big part with me. I got super defensive, which kind of shows like there’s probably a little bit there that I’m trying to guard and hold on to. So having a safe situation, a safe place where people can feel like, Oh, this person’s coming to me with concern. They genuinely care about me.

And that can take time to build up, especially with a team. If you’re on a team that has a lot of athletes, but I think that does take a leadership role, whether that’s on the team or the coach to show people that, you need to be fueled, you need to, take care of your body. Like this is your lifelong, this is a small piece of your life.

You have so much more ahead of you. and look at the bigger picture with things, which can be really hard when you’re, you’re in the midst of it as an athlete.

Jill: When I was doing some research for this interview, found a People article from before Tokyo that talks about you’re working with, a mental coach and psychologist.

Was that work solely focused on performance or did you find some of these eating disorder things starting to bubble up then?

Samantha Schultz: For me, I don’t think I really brought up a lot of it because I didn’t think it was a problem. And maybe that was where, uh, I needed to be asked more things like, Hey, how are you?

What are your eating habits like? But I think for her, when I was working with the therapist, it was more focused on, why do you feel like maybe you weren’t making as much gains with your fencing? What do you feel like you’re holding onto? What are you afraid of? So it was more performance related and more, um, I feel like I had so much anxiety about how am I going to get my schedule to work out with all these different sports and life and my marriage and, this and that and army.

And so I think a lot of that was more just focused on functioning in life, with sports and everything else that kind of goes in your pie chart. But I just don’t think I brought it up. And. It was all virtual, it was all done virtually. So she wasn’t seeing me in person and she wasn’t in communication with my coaches, which there is that line with a therapist, cause they’re supposed to have that confidentiality.

So it is kind of hard to have them look out for you in a way, but you know, it’s kind of one of those things of, I think I was so much in denial of I was doing the right thing I needed to do for sport.

Alison: Do you feel like the disordered eating hurt you as you were competing in results and just in how you were feeling?

Samantha Schultz: I absolutely do. I think it definitely hurt me. For some odd reason, as I was getting closer to the Olympics and I was getting leaner, I was doing more than what my coach was telling me to do.

And I was getting faster and I do not know how I was like, my body was probably just running literally on fumes. And then in January, of 2021, my foot, my plantar fasciitis started to act up really bad. And I went in, my foot hurt really bad and I had a stress reaction in my foot. And I think that was when my husband was kind of like, see, I told you so, but he knew he couldn’t really say that, but it was like, yeah, my body was telling me I, like, I can’t keep doing this.

And so I really had to take a step back and kind of reset, let that heal. And ultimately it’s like, that was my own fault. And I think I set myself back for, I wasn’t feeling myself, my body, my bones were depleted. And. I got hurt six months before the Olympics. So that definitely hurt me. And, I opened up about some of this too, that when I got to the Olympics and I was in the dining hall, I was just so overwhelmed and all I could think about was like, there’s all these food, all this food from all these different places, like I’m at the Olympics.

This is like incredible moment. I should be having so much fun here. And all I could think about is like, Oh my God, there’s so much food. I don’t know what I’m going to eat. What if I gain weight? What if I’m like, when I’m competing, I don’t fit in my uniform. And it was like all these things just float into my head.

And it’s like, I needed to eat to perform. And all I could think about was I’m going to gain weight here because of all this food. so a lot of those things were like, it just came in and impacted me. And, um, Mental, emotional, physical ways. And it kind of does hurt. I’m like, what could I have done if I would have fueled myself better?

If I would have listened more to what the dieticians or nutritionists were telling me, that I did need more fuel, but I just didn’t, I didn’t believe it and I thought I was like, Oh, I need to be lean and more fit. And it’s like, that’s not always the best way to perform.

Jill: it’s kind of interesting that your situation is happening in, in the midst of kind of a revolution and change of thinking of how athletes need to think of fuel or how we do talk about, you know, Well, Tokyo is a big mental health issue with athletes, but we see in other sports, talking about disordered eating is popping up more and more, and you’re part of this change in attitude and, It’s just thinking about the whole situation with food and fuel and nutrition.

So what do you think, going forward, should athletes think about or sports coaches and people in administration think about when trying to help athletes avoid going down the same road?

Samantha Schultz: And that’s what’s like the, the question, it is so hard to say like what the right answer is for that or what’s going to change everything.

and. I always try to remind myself of the quote, comparison is the thief of joy. And it’s so hard to, when you’re, when you’re in a sport, you see what like the body type is for that athlete, which if you look like across history, that body type is probably different and it varies from quad to quad or year to year.

But what we see is like. Oh, I have to look like that. And I think that’s, what’s so hard is we are all built so differently and coaches need to have that education to work on helping athletes feel like it’s not about the way you look. Let’s look more at your times, your efficiency, injuries, fuel, like, let’s look at this bigger picture under this umbrella of all these different factors that go into not just a time, but like, are you saying healthy?

Okay. You’re slowly progressing over time. You’re not just having a good result. And then you’re going back down. I think that’s where when you start to see a lot of that consistency, that’s where like, okay, this person is probably on a good track. But that’s also, there’s so many different factors.

And so I think it’s just the education and providing people with a better idea of you do not have to starve yourself to be a better athlete. There is other ways, like there’s dietitians, there’s resources, and those should all be provided to athletes. and I think that’s the thing, just the limitation on access to good providers that aren’t going to be telling them things like you need to restrict this, or you need to restrict that this food’s good, this food’s bad.

It’s like, no, we need to, I think, work on a lot of that education and make sure those who are working with athletes and just people in general are vetted and that they’re giving them adequate information. And I think social media is just a big part in making people realize that you can’t believe everything you see and everything you read.

There’s a lot of people that share information out that really aren’t accredited. they might just be finding an article that might not have all the data and information with it. So I think just understanding that social media is a highlight reel. And I feel like, I kind of need to apologize for that because I took the highlight reel of my life when I was leading up to the Olympics and it really wasn’t perfect.

I was struggling mentally, physically, I think everyone was during COVID, but I was like, the Olympics are great. I want to show everyone that this journey is amazing. And so even just like opening up about that, it’s like, I was struggling, but I showed that things were fine. And so I think a lot of athletes were starting to see more of that raw emotion of this is really hard.

I got an injury and now I have to take a step back. I have to scratch from marathon trials or Olympic trials or this big event or that big event. and that’s really, really hard to do, but I think we’re seeing a lot more people making decisions that are better for their health in their longterm, mental and physical health that I think that’s a good thing, but that’s also I think a big part to do with coaches helping out with that too.

Alison: So you appeared in All in Stride by Joanna Gartner. And one of the things that came up that you were just mentioning, you had some not great coaching throughout your career. How do you look back on that now? What’s your, your 2020 hindsight view on what could have been different. What should have been different?

Samantha Schultz: Yeah. Um, I definitely think when I first came into the sport, I was so eager to please. I wanted to do everything the coaches told me. And when you come from high school, you’re working with, coaches that are really kind of just doing this part time and they care about you. And I just had such a good team aspect and some really great coaches that I got to work with.

And not saying that the coaches weren’t good, but. They were European when I first came into Pentathlon, they were European. And so they were very harsh and blunt and they weren’t really the ones to give you a ton of praise. If you did a good job, like they were pretty, pretty stoic. And I think kind of that when you are a a woman kind of coming from high school to college, your body’s changing.

Things are changing. And I had just come from, Maybe doing one or two sports at a time to jumping into doing five sports, doing night classes, being in a whole different environment. And my body just was all out of whack and I had the coaches sit me down. And this was one time where I was alone with the coaches.

There’d be a lot of times where coaches would sit us down. In groups and after competitions and just tell us what we did terrible. And i’m like i’m in a group full of these people I compete against and I feel like i’m just being torn down In front of my teammates like this should be done one on one personally I just felt like that kind of setting wasn’t very It wasn’t helpful for making a team aspect because we all felt like we had to be like against one another.

And so I think a part of that is like, I don’t think they really tried to foster that team aspect of things and really make that like, if you get better, your teammates going to get better. You’re both going to lift each other up. And I don’t think that was really shared. And there was a meeting that they pulled me into a couple of months after I had started doing pentathlon, and I was told, as a female, you look fine, but as a female athlete, you’re fat. and it’s hard for me to forget that moment. And you kind of just equate it to, okay, that’s just the European way. That’s just the way they tell me I need to change my body because I want to be an athlete. I need to look like an athlete. I need to change. I’m not good enough. And so I think that’s just for like, I need to work harder.

I need to do more. And that athlete mentality of like, just do more, do more than the coaches tell you. and that’s kind of when it started of like, I need to start watching what I eat and my coaches are watching me. I think that all just kind of started then of, Oh, okay. This is important.

Jill: What was it like being part of the book and. Making the decision to share your story.

Samantha Schultz: It’s actually been like a weight off of my back. I feel like, in the moment, it was definitely hard to open up about a lot of these things. Uh, Joanna, the author, she is such an incredible person and such a great author. and there’s certain times where I’m like, I don’t know why I started to open up and I think, of course, going to treatment was one of those things, but a lot of this stuff I shared to her before I went to treatment and I think for me, just noticing that I don’t need to hold on to all this stuff anymore and I could be a person that helps someone else so that they don’t have to go through this.

I think that was a big part of, I don’t, yeah. And I feel like I was afraid to speak up or do the things that I needed to do to ask for help. And I don’t want anyone else to feel that way. So it’s kind of like being vulnerable is so scary, but at the end of the day, it’s, that’s how you’re going to make progress.

And that’s how you’re going to grow is. Talking about these things that are challenging, talking about these things that you went through, and I’ve had a lot of people when I did open up on social media about going through treatment, I had a lot of people reach out and say, you know, I went through similar stuff when I was younger and I didn’t have any adequate help.

And I’m so glad you’re talking about this. I wish I would have had this, or I wish I would have spoken up about it. And so hearing that it’s like that these people feel that they can open up to me about some of their past struggles that they may be. Not even talked about before. , it’s really, it’s hard to know that a lot of people have struggled, but also.

I’m hoping that that just kind of opens that door, that we can be there for one another and it doesn’t need to be something that’s shameful or that you’re judged for.

Alison: What has been the reaction specifically within the elite athletic community?

Samantha Schultz: I’ve had some teammates that were like, Wow.

I like, I really had no idea. And I think it’s, there’s kind of that disordered eating level where like, okay, this person really watches what they eat. And then there’s that full on eating disorder and where it’s. So much more life consuming. And so there’s kind of like that buildup to things. And I think that a lot of them just didn’t see the magnitude of it.

And they kind of expressed some concern of like, yeah, we kind of noticed things, but at the same time too, it’s like they were at that point, they were older teammates that were somewhat removed from it. So they weren’t right there with me. And it’s hard to kind of know what someone else is going. through.

but even to just some of the other pentathletes from around the world, even just like hearting something or just saying, thank you for sharing. That’s very vulnerable. , like, I hope you feel better. I hope you’re doing well. Just hearing things like that means a lot. and knowing that, and I think just hoping too, that if they ever have struggles that they can come to me too.

Just to know that they’re not alone.

Jill: What do you hope to see within the realm of elite athletes or at like the USOPC level of support with things like this?

Samantha Schultz: I think everyone should be allowed and given the access to a nutrition or dietitian, to sports medicine and to someone who can provide therapy.

and I think therapy, not specifically just sports psychology, I think it is important to have an aspect of sport in that. But I also think a big aspect of that does need to stay personal because that ties into your athletics. And so I think there’s like a, that kind of that umbrella of there’s so many different aspects and that really has to be prioritized as your training, your recovery.

Your therapy, your mental training, your food, your rest that all needs to be a part of your training. And so having kind of coaches say, Nope, let’s rest. Like, let’s get this. Let’s schedule your therapy in as a part of your training plan. and just kind of making that normal that that is important and that’s going to actually pay off more in the long run for your, your athletic career and your longterm health too.

Alison: So where are you in terms of your recovery and how are you feeling now?

Samantha Schultz: I would say I’m still in recovery. I’ve, I’ve made a lot of progress and I don’t, I think I’m really hard on myself. I want it to be perfect and all rainbows and butterflies, but I think I know that there’s going to be ups and downs and.

Um, I’m still working with a therapist and a dietitian and, psychiatrists and whatnot on my recovery. But I really do feel that I have a better balance of my life and a balance with not needing to have exercise and needing to have so much control over food. I’ve been able to let go a little bit more.

Learning and it’s like, I think that body acceptance is my body has changed since competing and learning that that that is hard for me to still grasp and so still working on that body image aspect and that more time in the gym and more time doing this and more time doing that. It’s like my body served a purpose being an athlete and now my body is going to serve a purpose as I’m a personal trainer.

I’m an instructor. I’m helping other people with their fitness and I can’t be on top of my game. If I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m not eating enough. Um, I can’t my marriage. Like, so just looking at those different aspects and really trying to say, I need to be able to be there for my husband, for my family, for my clients, for all those people.

And I think so. That part of having a why behind my recovery, trying to come back to what are my values? What’s my why? What am I really fighting for? And knowing that the eating disorder is going to kind of slip back in at times, but that’s where I can come, come back to my support system and be like, Hey, I’m, I’m having a hard time right now.

This is what’s going on in my head and just talking through it and not just having it all go on in my head. But. Having that open dialogue, talking more about my feelings. Um, my husband and I have a little feelings wheel pillow that we use. And so kind of just making it more normalized to talk about not just what you do today, how’d you feel about, what you did today and kind of dive a little bit deeper and not get, not stay so surface level.

I think that’s really helped me with recovery and, I’ll start to kind of wean off and do a little bit less than less than less. Um, I was doing therapy about twice a week and dietitian once a week. And so now I’ve kind of gone down to a little bit less. And so it’s kind of just that progression that, You have to do, and we’ll kind of just see how things go and let go of the timeline and just continue to trust the process.

Alison: We hear so much about athletes struggling with their retirement. What’s been like an unexpected benefit for you and your life having been officially retired?

Samantha Schultz: I would say the ability just to go to more family outings or be able to be around for parts of the season. Like normally we would always be traveling over Easter weekend.

There would always be a time when we were traveling and that’s one of my favorite holidays. Spring is one of my favorite times when the trees start budding and I can get to spend birthdays with my family now. I’m not always traveling or my sister in law had a wedding and I was able to go to that. if I’d gone to Pan Ams, this past year, that was during the same time.

And so just in the back of my head, I see just so much of this where it took away from that time. I was able to be with family, be with friends, go do more fun things like go out and ski or go try pickleball, just go out and try new things where I’m not as afraid to get hurt or injured and can kind of find joy back in that movement.

Not waking up at every morning at 5 a. m. to go work out four or five times. I still enjoy and I’m still active and trying to find that piece of, I want to do this because it feels good in my body, not, I feel like I have to do this. And, so I think that’s just been seeing that there really is so much more.

I feel like I see more light in life and color because there’s, there’s so much more that I get to do now.

Jill: If you had to go back and do it all over again, would you go down the elite athlete route?

Samantha Schultz: Yes, I would. I wouldn’t give it up. I, it gives, I’m like getting like chills right now. It’s weird. Um, I think just thinking about all the places that I got to travel, all the amazing people I got to compete with, just the journey that I’ve been on.

And. Yeah, just the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet, whether it’s athletes or not. And I mean, being on podcasts, getting to talk about my journey, I think there’s a lot of little pieces I would have changed a part of that journey. but overall I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ve learned so much and I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people and go to amazing places.

So, Yeah, I think just in little things I would have told myself differently when I was younger and, like that comparison is the Thief of Joy and like learning that I have to make my own path and I can’t compare myself to someone else’s. This is my journey and if this is something I really wanted to do.

Alison: When you’re looking at Pentathlon now and all the changes that are happening, how does it look from the outside? And are you going to watch in Paris?

Samantha Schultz: I do plan on watching in Paris. definitely don’t think I’ll be going to Paris, after going to the Olympics in Rio. It is, it’s a lot being a spectator at the Olympics.

It’s, there’s a lot going on. but I definitely want to tune in and watch and. I like they’ve already changed around the format a little bit for what Paris is going to look like. So I think seeing that will be interesting and kind of seeing what they’re doing. And also to like, this is going to be the last time they have riding in the Olympics.

And I want to see that. And I hope that it will go better than it has in previous years. And that our sport doesn’t end on a bad note with that. You know, and I’m excited so far. Jess Davis has qualified, on the women’s side and, she competed alongside with me. So I’m happy for her and I want to see her do well and represent Team USA.

yeah, there has been a lot of changes though, which. breaks my heart and I want to see the sport grow and I want to see it continue on. Um, but it’s, it’s just hard to see that they’re pulling the writing out and they’re making all these changes and all these things that gets hard on an athlete when you’re constantly just having to change the way you train, the way you do things.

Um, so part of me, It’s kind of relieved because it’s like, there’s so many changes going on. And as you get older, that does get harder to kind of adapt to all those different things. But, I’m still excited. And I think it has been a little challenging to see some of the Olympic commercials, not going to lie, you know, part of me still misses it. And a part of me still, it’ll always have a special place in my heart, but I think I have a better, I’m learning to have. More compassionate grace for myself with, I had so much shame and guilt for the eating disorder and what it did to me and my health. And I think too, a lot of anger for the way I didn’t speak up about things.

And so learning to make peace with that and look at the Olympics in a way of, I am so grateful I had that opportunity. I am so proud of myself for that and not look at that in a way of you didn’t do good enough. You could have done better. So really just trying to shift all those thoughts and say like, You did a really incredible thing and be proud of that.

Jill: Do you ever pull out the laser gun?

Samantha Schultz: Um, I, I have not, that’s actually, I know, I think I did like once or twice. I did a demo, a shooting demo, and then I did an event at the Olympic museum and so I brought it, but I haven’t just like gone out and shot the laser pistol, but I have started hunting again with my family.

so that’s kind of fun to be able to do some other stuff like that, where I’m still shooting. And now as, um, the coach at Pikes Peak Athletics, I’ll be doing an event where I’m going to bring some laser pistols and we’ll have some of the kids shooting it. So there’s still a parts where I get to experience part of, The different aspects of pentathlon.

And right now I have a client who wanted to learn how to fence. So I’m teaching her some fencing drills. So there’s still ways where I’m still like involved in all the different sports somehow. but just not doing, um, near the capacity I was doing, um, years ago.

Alison: Would you coach pentathlon?

Samantha Schultz: oh man, I don’t know if I would.

That’s a, it’s a lot. And I feel. I feel great with where I’m at and coaching as a personal trainer and the background of I have this knowledge in a lot of these different sports. , but I really do like being able to kind of work on. more of that strength side of thing, the personal training. so I don’t think I would.

And especially now with it changing so much, I’m like, wait, what is the role now? What are we doing? So like, I think for me, I’m in a happy place with where I am and it’s nice to watch it from the outside.

Jill: What’s next for Sammy?

Samantha Schultz: What is next? Let’s see. Well, my husband and I are coming up on our five year wedding anniversary this year.

So, hopefully, we will do a trip or something fun. I feel like I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to. so, hopefully we’ll be able to do a trip. Kind of been saving up for that. Working on house projects and just continuing to work and hopefully at some point trying to grow our family, but at least for this point right now, we’re just kind of trying to enjoy one another and just kind of spend more time with family and enjoy being in one place for a little bit longer at a time.

Alison: The traditional gift for the fifth anniversary

Jill: is wood. It’s wood.

Alison: Do with that what you will.

Samantha Schultz: Maybe I’ll go and like, try to make like a little, a little wooden ring for my husband. There you go.

Jill: Hey, I don’t even know how

Samantha Schultz: I do that, but I’ll try to figure it

Jill: out. Whittling. Get your whittling kit now. Right. Samantha, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story and what’s been going on.

It’s, we really appreciate you opening up and sitting and coming back to you. You’ve been one of our regular guests, you know, you’re right up there on, on visits. So we love talking with you and would love to continue talking with you down the road. See how your life evolves.

Samantha Schultz: Yeah. It’s so fun just to be able to, I think, have, have that too.

As an athlete, you feel like you’re kind of only important in one aspect of your life, but there really is so much more. And so I really appreciate the opportunity to come on here and speak out. And I mean, you guys have such wonderful questions, such, I mean, so much commitment to, The athlete community and just that connection.

I really just appreciate the both of you and what you’re doing. And I know it’s not, it’s not thanked enough. And so I just really appreciate that. And I’m excited for the Olympic year. And I know you guys are too. So I hope you guys have a lot of fun leading up towards that.

Jill: Thank you so much, Sammy. You can follow Sammy on Insta at Samantha A USA and on YouTube, she is Sammy Schultz, and we will have links to both of those in the show notes. All in Stride by Joanna Garten is now available. You can purchase it and all of your books at our storefront at bookshop. org. We have a curated list of Olympic and Paralympic books, including all of the selections for our book club.

Visit bookshop. org. Dot org slash shop slash flame alive pod a portion of every purchase goes to the support Goes to support this show

[00:52:20] Paris 2024 News

Alison: Les billets de sport.

Jill: Oui, oui, uh, many outlets have reported that there’s going to be another major ticket drop coming for Paris 2024. That will happen on April 17th, which is 100 days out, starting at 10 a. m. Paris time. Could be up to 500, 000 tickets available across the country. all sports at a variety of price ranges. They say half of them are going to be a hundred euros or less.

And you go, well, Jill, Alison, how could they have so many tickets available now? Well, these had been held for contingencies and possible camera positions. And now that they’ve figured out like exactly where cameras are going in the venue, they’ve got some room that opened up for you potentially.

So let us know if you get tickets. We love to hear it. When Ashok Flestani’s go to the games. The beach volleyball stadium at the Eiffel Tower is under construction. Did you see pictures of this?

Alison: I did see pictures of this. It’s a, it’s a lot going on. It looks huge. Surprisingly, yes. I, I needed more construction workers for, uh, scale because it just seemed like these towers were enormous.

Jill: Right. And huge number of bleachers. it’s going to be spectacular. The Eiffel Tower is also going to have a set of rings on it. According to NBC, the rings will be 95 feet long and 49 feet high. They’ll be made of recycled French steel and they will be attached to the tower, about 200 feet above the ground on the south side of the structure.

Alison: And just for context, the tower itself is over a thousand feet, so it’s only gonna be to the math less than a quarter of the way up. So it’s not gonna block that really beautiful view.

So if you don’t want the Olympic rings in your, Eiffel Tower pictures, you will have three sides where you can easily avoid them.

Jill: More issues with the water quality of the sin.

Alison: It’s funny when you put this in our show notes because I thought, Oh, you just copied this from last week because it seems like this is now become, this is going to be the Zika story.

Jill: I’m hoping that Zika does not become the Zika story again, but I think this one’s got a little bit more legs, especially as we talked about last week, where, it’s rainy season. And so, of course, a lot of polluted water is getting into the river and they have not finished this massive. sewage container project that, uh, will go online in May and that’s supposed to really help, but we’re still in this holding pattern.

But as a French charity called Surf Rider, which has been monitoring water quality for over 20 years, they’ve published an open letter to Paris 2024 detailing the poor water quality and how it’s not safe for swimming. Tony Estanguet, the president of Paris 2024, admitted that if pollution remains high, the swimming portion of the triathlon could be postponed or canceled because you can, in triathlon rules, make it a duathlon.

and of course there’s no mention of marathon swimming. Which is also supposed to take place in the sun. So we’ll have to see. I think there was some flooding of the sun over the last week because it was really raining. And, I think the, sewage project will help that underwater. big, , overflow tank is going to help with some of the problems, but we’ll see what happens. Cause if it’s rainy during the Olympics,

Alison: I would think the marathon swimming would be slightly easier to move than the triathlon because triathlon, you’d have to have the additional facilities for the running and the cycling all in one place. Whereas marathon swimming, you just need marathon swimming.

Not that moving any event. Is easy. No. But maybe that’s why there was no mention, because there already is some kind of plan B for marathon swimming. But how disappointing would it be for the Olympic triathlon to not be a triathlon? Right? That would be a real black eye and disappointing to the athletes because you’re training for one thing and now your event is something else.

Jill: Right. And I wonder how much they, how much that would affect them. I mean, I believe those athletes do brick their workout, so they’ll do certain sports together, but Um, it’s gotta be difficult to get a different mindset in to compete for just two sports and knowing when, what energy to expend when during a shorter, different race.

Alison: And if your best event is swimming, you’re in trouble, right? It shakes up the whole dynamic of the race because I’m sure there are, there are specialists just like in tennis, you’ve got clay specialists, you have grass specialists, and in pentathlon each one has their best event. It’s gotta be the same.

Jill: Some fun news! Team Serbia is going to have a hospitality house for the very first time at an Olympics.

it will be located at the Theater Paris Villette in Park de la Villette, uh, Serbia will be promoted as an event and an investment and business destination. And they’ll also showcase their historical heritage and tourism and culture, tradition and gastronomy.

Sign me up for some Cevaps, you would not sign up for Cevaps cause it’s like meat.

Are there, are there pastry puffed involved in that? Not really. The, the ones I’ve had are just Meat sausages with not even without casing. but they’re delicious, but yeah, I’m sure they have their own bread They’ve got their own pastries. Come on. They’ll have more. It will be open July 26th through August 11th and will be free Did you see this bombshell?

I did not until I looked at the notes. This is a big deal This came out today. Oh my goodness for the very first time an international federation is going to award prize money directly to medalists so World Athletics announced they’re going to give gold medalists and gold medalists only 50, 000 for winning the gold at the Olympics.

And this is for each sport or each event in the sport. That’s 48 events. So they’re spending 2. 4 million on this endeavor. , relay teams will split the 50k, the money comes from the IOC’s revenue share allocation that the federation gets every four years. World Athletics said, yeah, we’re just doing gold medal this time for 2028.

We plan to include silver and bronze medalists, this is an interesting development. I’m not sure that the IOC is thrilled about this.

Alison: My first reaction when I saw this was, hmm. Is that the best use of IOC funds? You know, would the IOC much rather see the International Federations do more grassroots development, do more underserved team development?

But on the other hand, you’re also awarding people who you’re making money off of. Because who come, who do they come to see? They come to see whoever wins the 100 meters, you know, fastest man, fastest woman in the world, you know, the Ironman, the decathlon winner. So, on the other hand, it’s Um, kind of what we’ve talked about in relation to the NCAAs where college students getting paid or not paid, well, you know, pay the people who make you the money.

Jill: Yes. And I did see, Shukla Stani Evan Dunphy talk about this on X. He said, you know, it’s, it’s really great that they’re having, Prize money, but it would also be really nice if it got allocated down a little farther instead of one person winning a giant pot, which then, I mean, to me, that’s like, it’s the Olympics.

It’s the pinnacle. You get the giant prize for this endeavor. But I do think that for many people in many countries, getting to the Olympics is a huge deal. And to be able to share in that pie, because. They’re still making money off of them too. They should get a little bit of, the chunk too. I wondered what other federations thought about this

Alison: because it’s

Jill: definitely Federations

Alison: that do not have the kind of budget that World Athletics has or the kind of allocation that they get from the IOC.

Jill: Right. So what did those athletes think? Like, Oh, would be nice if we could get that too. and they probably, some of them, I would say maybe swimming. Swimming. Would be one to also follow suit, who knows that they would, gymnastics might have the ability to do that, but something like modern pentathlon.

You’re really talking about needing the money to build the sport and especially in different places around the world. So I don’t know what other, federations are going to do about this.

Alison: And the other thing with World Athletics is those athletes already have the Diamond League. Swimmers have professional leagues that they are making money off of.

So do you know, do the gold medal winners actually. Need the 50. And is that the determining factor? Are we determining it by need, by who makes us the money? Who’s the, pinnacle star? So there’s many questions as to who gets rewarded or who gets supported

Jill: well, and, and. I guess the question is, need, is need a factor?

We talk about these sports needing money. I don’t think a pro basketball player really needs millions of dollars every year. I just don’t think that a lot of these athletes who get massive contracts, do they need that money?

Do they deserve that money? I don’t know. They have talent. So saying that, Oh, do, do these athletes need the money? I’m sure they would go, yeah, we need the money because we have a finite lifespan. We need to use the talent that we have for who knows how many years and bank it. but I don’t know why do some sports get a whole lot more money and others don’t? And then now you’ve created another different dichotomy.

Within the Olympics, so I, I don’t know, I would not be surprised if other federations followed suit. I don’t know if they would do it for Paris or if they would wait till 2028. We’ll see, and it’d be interesting to see what will happen for 2026 if, other, uh, federations decide they want to do that too.

If you are going to France and need something to do, There will be a Pierre de Coubertin wax statue at the Grevin Museum, which appears to be the French version of Madame Tussauds.

Which, oddly enough, is not in France. I did not know this. I went down a rabbit hole.

Alison: Did you find out why? Because she was trying to escape the revolution and almost lost her head? She would have, she almost preserved herself in wax.

Jill: So yes, that will be at the Grevin Museum. If you want to check that out, we’ll have a link in the show notes.

if you are staying home and you live in Canada, or if you are a fan of The Canadian Paralympic Committee, General Mills, has become an official sponsor of them and we’ll have Paralympians on cereal boxes coming up.

Alison: They showed some samples. It looked fantastic. Nothing better than athletes on cereal boxes.

I don’t know. Is that a generational thing? Am I old? Talking about at, cause I love seeing that, you know, we grew up with the Wheaties boxes. So I, I love seeing athletes and now para athletes on the cereal boxes.

Jill: Woes for Canadian athletes. There was a fire at the Montreal Olympic stadium. And. the damage was extensive enough that the facility is closed for several weeks, which means that athletes who train there, including our very own Alison Levine and Jacqueline Simoneau, they have to move, find other places for training.

Swimming Olympic trials were also going to be held there. So they’ve had to find a new venue for that. They’ve gotten moved to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Those kick off on May 13th. CBC interviewed. Jackie Simineau, and she said that the synchro team is practicing at a school, which has a smaller pool.

So it’s not as long or as deep as a regulation pool that they compete in. So they’re moving less and that’s going to be a little difficult to adapt to, but they’re trying to be resilient about it and practicing whenever they’re allowed to get times and, it’s tough. It’s tough for the team. And I know Alison said it was tougher, finding a different place because the courts at the Montreal Training Center were like unparalleled and were some of the best around.

Alison: And to be scrambling at this point. Is so disheartening though. I love the image of the Canadian synchro team walking in at some high school swim, some high school swim team. And everyone’s just like, what is happening?

Jill: speaking of legacy stadiums, it is time to vote for next year’s games history moment.

We’re doing it a little early because of Paris 2024. So next year, we will be choosing between Sydney, 2000. Moscow, 1980, Antwerp, 1920, and Paris, 1900. Sydney’s in the lead right now.

Alison: Sydney is decisively in the lead. At first few days, Moscow had gotten everyone’s attention, but Sydney at this moment is in the lead with 55%.

Jill: Voting will be open for one more week. So if you want to keep Sydney ahead. Go vote if you’d like to see Moscow, Antwerp, or Paris, which Paris 1900 is having a little moment because I, like you said, Moscow was doing really well and then just started fading and Paris 1900 also made a little come back there. So if you would like to participate in that, we would love to hear what you want to listen about next year.

Go to our Facebook group to vote. It’s Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group and the poll is pinned to the top of the page.

[01:06:55] LA 2028 News

Jill: The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations had its General Assembly and our friend, Rich Perlman from The Sports Examiner, wrote that up, LA 2028 reported that there’s going to be a lot of changes regarding venues.

And, a lot of it is, you know, they bid for the games. Back in like 2017, so a lot’s changed since then, they are looking at more optimization, looking at more sharing of venues, more sharing the field of play in order to have more efficient games. So they are looking to a lot of collaboration among the federations in order to making that happen.

Alison: And we can hear everyone across the country just laughing. Collaboration among federations. This is like Hatfields and McCoys are going to throw a party.

Jill: Right. Right. All throughout 2024, they’re going to announce venue changes. Some of them will be big. They will also probably talk about where skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing will be located because they weren’t.

On the program in 2017 when the bid happened, they have not announced the venues for the five new sports that they’re going to have and that’s, cricket, squash, lacrosse, baseball, softball, and

Alison: it’s all team sports. Wait,

Jill: a flag football. Oh, flying football. How could I forget? Changes are already known for flatwater and canoeing and rowing they’ve moved it from Lake Paris and Riverside County to the Long Beach Marine Stadium. That’ll be close to the ocean. Basketball’s gotten moved from Crypto. com Arena to the new Intuit Dome in Englewood.

In the original plans, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion was going to be used for judo and wrestling. That will not happen now. That venue is not going to be used for competitions. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made that like a practice venue since I believe the village is going to be at UCLA. So judo and wrestling are going to move.

The sports schedule by session is expected as expected to be finished by the second quarter of 2025.

Alison: That’s early. Good for them. It seems early. Yeah, I’m thrilled with that. Well, it also gives you a much better sense of where, I mean, it’s very hard to get around LA. Everybody knows travel around LA is very problematic.

So I’m sure that having the sports schedule ahead of time, you will know where the bottlenecks are going to be, where, and they can start working. On those travel issues.

Jill: uh, athlete quota is likely to go up from what we’re having in Paris. Paris has 10,500 athletes. It will likely be 11,242 in LA to accommodate all of those new sports.

That means that cuts that happen for Paris are gonna stay in place for la, which is bad news for a lot of sports. I have

Alison: an idea for where they should have surfing. Where? American Samoa. Maybe Guam. Which one is further away? Hey, Paris said, let’s go to Tahiti.

So, you know, L. A., make it the furthest possible American territory.

Jill: Maybe they can put it over in Puerto Rico. Just go to the other side of the country. Right.

Alison: I was, I was going to say Hawaii. And then I thought to myself, oh, that is way too close. Though that would be awesome if they had it in Hawaii.

Jill: Right.

Birthplace of surfing.

Alison: Birthplace of surfing.

[01:10:29] International Olympic Committee News

Jill: My IOC

Alison: boyfriend came out and said some stuff.

Jill: Right. Also at the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell. presented work that the IOC is doing to create a framework on support for athletes under the age of 18. So they’re now looking at the issue of minor athletes at the games, especially with some, you know, you looked at Tokyo and you had some very, very young athletes there, the IOC has done some surveys of elite athletes. They’re currently doing consultations with federations, countries, and more athletes. In May, they will release a consensus statement on elite youth athletes. And sometime in 2025, they will have a framework for how to support them best.

Kit also released stats about the number of minor athletes at recent summer games.

At London 2012, there were 230 or 2. 15 percent of the athlete total. There were 190 minor athletes at Rio 2016, which was 1. 67%. And then at Tokyo 2020, there were just 158 minor athletes.

That’s 1. 39%. So in Tokyo, A kit said that there were 11 athletes who were between 12 and 14 years old, 23 of them were 15, 43 were 16, and 81 were 17. And if you wanted to contrast that, there were 180 athletes over 40 years old in Tokyo.

Alison: I think it’s very interesting that that number is going down. I would have expected the opposite.

But I wonder if this little second piece of information, where McConnell said that 29 of 48 disciplines for Paris have a minimum age, if that’s not significantly more. than it was say in London, 2012.

Jill: I wouldn’t be surprised that that’s part of it, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if because there is more capability to earn a living from being an elite athlete, that the athletes are staying in the sport longer if they can, make that work financially for them.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if. Older athletes are maintaining their level of athleticism, able to earn an income, and they can stay in the game longer and perform better than some of these young, younger people.

Alison: I mean, we’re definitely seeing, female gymnasts. Um, sticking around for multiple Olympics.

They were almost always one and done for the past 40 years, swimmers staying around much longer. So money doesn’t hurt going back to our earlier conversation.

Jill: It doesn’t. and I bet some, there’s some strength factors, not in every sport because, but it’ll be interesting to look at, see who qualifies for skateboarding this year and is especially in the women’s competition where we had such young.

Competitors in Tokyo, is that age limit going up or not the age limit is the age of those who qualify going up. And I would think break in is another one to look at to see how old are these competitors. The forthcoming consensus. statement in May, we’ll continue a series of IOC initiatives on international sport questions.

And, even though they’re going to provide a framework, again, it’s going to be up to the sport federations to do what is best for them.

[01:13:57] TKFLASTAN Update

Alison: Welcome to Shook Flushton.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up our citizenship of Shook Flushton. Super exciting news.

Alison: Stephanie Robel and Maggie Shea finished 10th at the Princess Sophia Trophy, which makes it official, Stephanie and Maggie have qualified for Paris.

Jill: Woo woo! Shook last on at the Games! Team Schuster finished 6th at the Men’s Curling World Championship, losing to Scotland in the first round of the playoffs.

Alison: Evan Dunfee finished second at the Gold Level World Race Walking Tour Stop in Potobraty, Czechia.

Jill: Phil Andrews, who is the CEO of USA Fencing, was named to Sport Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.

Alison: George Hirthler conducted a fictionalized interview with Pierre de Couberton about the evolution of modern pentathlon for UIPM.

We’ll have a link to that in the show notes.

Jill: That sparked a lot of conversation on social media.

Alison: I can imagine. George, who knew we’d get into this controversy.

Jill: So between the, fictionalized interview with Pierre de Coubertin and the World Athletics announcement of prize money that people have just been talking about IOC old, you know, passed away IOC members like Avery Brundage rolling over in their graves over these developments that have been happening to their beloved Olympic games for amateurs.

Alison: Roll away, Avery, roll away.

Jill: Well, that will do it for this episode. Let us know what you think of our discussion with Samantha.

Alison: You can find us on X, YouTube, and Instagram at flamealivepod. Send us an email at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 352 6348. That’s 208 flame it. You can chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group, Keep the Flame Alive podcast, and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you at our website, flamealivepod.com.

Jill: Next week we will be at the Team USA Media Summit. So we are planning to bring you content from there. It’s going to be our first time going to a media summit in person, so we are really excited to find out what it’s all about and bring you plenty of athlete interviews over the next couple of months.

Also, the Paris 2024 torch relay will kick off, so we will have thoughts on the lighting ceremony. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.