We’re headed to the beach this week to talk with Olympic hopeful Betsi Flint. Betsi is a pro beach volleyball player and 6x AVP champion who currently partners with Julia Scoles. Betsi played indoor and beach volleyball at Loyola Marymount University – and she’s a member of the school’s hall of fame. As a pro, she was AVP newcomer of the year in 2015, best server in 2019 and 2022, and volleyballmag.com’s most underrated player for 2022. We talk with Betsi about the dynamics of partnerships in the sport and some of the little details to look for when you’re watching. Betsi is also married and has a daughter, so we get into the dynamics of balancing training and competing with parenthood.
In our Seoul 1988 history moment, we have another Olympic first–it’s the debut of the free condoms! This is a popular story every Games (sex sells, you know), but there’s a health reason for why Seoul made them freely available for all.
In our TKFLASTAN update, we have news from:
Lots of news from Paris 2024, including a lot of civic projects — on the Seine, on the Champs-Élysées, and perhaps with the bedbugs. Also, the International Paralympic Committee’s membership has voted to allow individual athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete. It’s a complicated story, and we’ll break it down. And you can help Team New Zealand get to the Paris 2024 Paralympics through their One Team to Paris program.
Finally, more Athens 2004 legacy issues in the news….and this time it’s not so good.
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Unrivaled Group.
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 Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.
Beach Volleyball Partnerships with Betsi Flint (Episode 307)
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 am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.
Alison, hello. How are you?
[00:00:48] Alison: Hello. So all this week, I was seeing the 300 days to go until Paris and it’s so funny, but somehow 300 days to go made me panic so much more than one year to go. And it’s only a two month difference. And yet somehow that each milestone we hit. gets more and more overwhelming and less and less exciting.
It’s like the terror has taken over the excitement. And I realized yesterday, because I have never been to France, I’ve never been to Paris, that I’m going to Paris.
It’ll be Alison in Paris.
[00:01:31] Jill: It will.
[00:01:33] Alison: And lots of competitions have been happening, volleyball and gymnastics and people are punching their tickets left and right. And it’s just a lot happening right
[00:01:41] Jill: now. It is. And it’s not going to let up until we get to Paris. It is exciting. I’m trying to be on the excited side of it than trying to think about what we have to do to prepare.
But I, I know I can’t put my head in the sand on that for very much longer. But we’ll be fine. We’ll be [00:02:00] fine. It will be exciting. I have been thinking about baguettes. I am so excited to get good baguettes.
[00:02:07] Alison: Well, you know one thing we will be doing? We’ll be hanging out by the Eiffel Tower. Watching
[00:02:12] Jill: beach volleyball.
Betsi Flint Interview
[00:02:13] Jill: Yes, we will. And we’re even talking beach volleyball today. Today we are talking with Betsi Flint. This is very exciting. Betsi is a pro beach volleyball player and six time AVP champion. She currently partners with Julia Scholes. Betsi played indoor and beach volleyball at Loyola Marymount University, and she is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
As a pro, she was AVP newcomer of the year in 2015. So she’s been at this a little while. She’s also been named best server in 2019 and 2022 and VolleyballMag. com called her the most underrated player for 2022 as well. She has been hard at work on the circuit, but she is also hard at work at home.
She is married and has a daughter. So, there’s a lot of balancing act that goes on as well with training and motherhood. Unfortunately you could not make it to the interview, Alison. So, I talked with her about sport and teaming and balancing motherhood with competition. Take a listen.
Betsi Flint, thank you so much for joining us. We’ve been really wanting to talk about partnerships and teaming, so what makes a good partner for you specifically in beach volleyball?
[00:03:21] Betsi Flint: Yeah, partnerships are really important in our sport. Obviously, you want to compliment each skill-wise. But even more so off the court we spend so much time together traveling and game planning and doing all the things together, that that’s a big chunk of our time.
So you really wanna get along with your partner off the court and it makes, it makes the experience better. It doesn’t have to be that way, but definitely enhances the experience. But yeah, I personally love a partner that’s a good teammate that’s looking out for me, trying to bring the best out in me and.
We talk early in the season [00:04:00] about values that we have, that we share, that we wanna bring out. We talk about adversity plans when things are, we’re struggling and things are not going our way. Like what do we want to bring to our partner? Like, what can my partner do for me and what can I do for her?
Because if there’s just two of us out there and we’re gonna have adversity, a lot of our matches, I mean, we played. Two outta three. So a lot of times we’re going to three sets. We don’t always win every single set. And it’s just inevitable to have adversity, even if you’re winning the tournament. So that’s really impor important key to our partnership.
[00:04:36] Jill: When you form a partnership, are you looking for hopefully something that is finite or sometimes, is it one season at a time? Is it turn a few tournaments at a time? how do you build that? Because, I will say in beach volleyball, it seems like people are changing up all the time and that can happen as people grow and change in themselves.
But I’m curious, when you set out to make a partnership, what’s your timeframe on that?
[00:05:01] Betsi Flint: Yeah, ideally long term, so right now the Olympics. They’re the goal. So it’s forming a team through the Olympics and then every season for sure, reevaluating to make sure it makes sense. And it works for me and it works for her.
But ideally, like we’re committing to like the quad or to the however long we have before the Olympics, and partnerships do change. , it’s like dating in a way where, there’s not a contract. There’s not. An agreement, you’re just verbally agreeing and loyalty’s a factor and trust you.
You don’t know what your partner’s thinking. But yeah, the goals, the goal is the Olympics and that’s really the goal for us and that’s what we’re committed through. And to qualify for the Olympics for Paris 2024. It’s you and your partner’s best 12 events as a team, so that’s a long. That’s a lot of tournaments and starting from this past January [00:06:00] through June of next year.
So you want to find a partner that you can have success with for a couple years. A year and a half is a qualification part. So yeah that’s part of it. Yeah.
[00:06:14] Jill: So when you’re talking about that long term, and I also imagine everybody’s different, but how long does it take to gel and get used to it instead?
when you look at a dating analogy, sometimes it’s like after a couple weeks you’re a couple dates, you’re like, oh, this person’s not for me. But when you’re trying to team and, and also compete and go for this long-term goal, like. How quickly do you reassess?
[00:06:38] Betsi Flint: Yeah. Uh, well, when I chose to play with Julia, who was my current partner, Julia’s goals, I watched her the previous season and was just impressed with her mental strength and obviously our physical skills too.
But I think the mentality is what sets us apart as professionals. And so when my partner and I previously had broken up, I had talked to Julia and I thought she was a great fit and she was new on tour. She was the rookie of the year last year and she just was a tough competitor and I knew I wanted that on my team.
So that was part of selecting her.
[00:07:16] Jill: Who approaches whom do you approach her?
Do your coaches talk to each other? Neither of either. Both.
[00:07:23] Betsi Flint: Yeah. We talk to each other and develop that relationship together. And usually yeah, once like a team breaks up, sometimes there’s a little trickle effect. So yeah, we, we talk, we communicate and. It’s like dating in a way. And yeah, I was impressed by her on and off the court and she’s been awesome this year.
And I’d say some teams have like a honeymoon effect where they’re really good in the beginning and maybe kind of even out. I didn’t feel like we necessarily had that. Uh, we had a really strong start, which is awesome. So maybe there was a little honeymoon effect. But [00:08:00] I feel like we’re now like starting to find a rhythm and It’s kind of like make working our way up as a team.
[00:08:07] Jill: beach volleyball, are teams mostly one leader, one follower, or is there equality there, or does it depend on the partnership?
[00:08:17] Betsi Flint: It may depend on the partnership, but I view it as equality. Like we, there’s two of us, like we’re gonna have to. Battle together and look for each other to lead in certain times.
We as a players hire our coaches. So that’s, we have April Ross as our coach, and she’s awesome. She won Tokyo Yeah. Olympic gold last quad. So she’s awesome. And her experience has helped us a ton.
[00:08:43] Jill: Yeah. What kind of insight does she give, especially when. The Olympics is such a pressure cooker and even getting the qualification is probably more of a pressure cooker than regular play.
[00:08:55] Betsi Flint: Yeah. She has her own experiences, which is incredible and is able to share like what’s worked for her and what hasn’t. And obviously what works for her isn’t always gonna work for us. But it’s nice to have her knowledge and she’s lived it. She lived it recently, so it’s great to have her on her
[00:09:13] Jill: When you improve at as an athlete, your skills improve and your partner may not or vice versa. How does that affect the partnership?
[00:09:26] Betsi Flint: I mean, I would argue, I think we’re always growing and always learning. Especially in the partnership I’m currently in. I think we’re always striving to get 2% better every day.
And maybe that’s when partners would not work out together if they’re not improving. But that’s our goal. Andre really focused and we’re able to achieve that, so it’s been awesome playing with Julia right now.
[00:09:46] Jill: How do you end a partnership? I. Let’s go theoretical but how do you know it’s coming?
Does sometime you get blind? I mean, is it
[00:09:55] Betsi Flint: like dating? uh, I mean it’s like dating. Sometimes you’re blindsided, sometimes you [00:10:00] know it’s coming. Sometimes it’s mutual. Just depends on the dynamic and the relationship.
[00:10:04] Jill: Is there an optimal time to do it? Is like, do you hope it lasts for a season if things aren’t going well?
Or is it better to just like, get out and go, okay, this season’s a wash?
[00:10:16] Betsi Flint: Personally I think it maybe at the end of the season, but if things aren’t really working, then maybe it makes sense. But yeah, I don’t, I don’t think I have. An answer for that. There’s nothing, there’s never ideal. Right. .
[00:10:28] Jill: Have you had times when your partner’s injured or sick?
[00:10:31] Betsi Flint: Have I had times like that? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s really hard part about our sport. There’s no sub. Mm-hmm. There’s no substitute. So it’s figuring that out. Recently Julia was battling some injuries and I picked up someone for a b p Atlanta. Yeah, so it, it’s hard. It’s managing the load throughout the year and trying to make a career, make a living, like financially.
That’s how we make money is playing in tournaments and your finishes. We don’t get salaries like other sports, so even though she was injured, I chose to play so I could make money in a, a bigger money event for us.
[00:11:09] Jill: Gotcha. So how does that affect rankings then? Does it just. That just is a way for you to make some money, which is necessary.
Yeah. But it doesn’t necessarily help or hurt your chances for Paris?
[00:11:26] Betsi Flint: No, because I played in an A V P with her. Okay. A V P rankings? I’d say more they’re domestic AVPs are domestic tour. Okay. And that’s a lot for making money, showcasing our sponsors and like playing in front of friends and family. So, Yeah, it doesn’t affect Olympic ranking.
It was more for fun and to compete
[00:11:47] Jill: What is it like on tour when you’re facing a former partner? Yeah,
[00:11:54] Betsi Flint: it’s intense to face a former partner. I think there’s always a little tension, which is [00:12:00] awesome. Like, I think it’s fun for fans too to see previous partners match up.
And that’s part of our sport. And as you, you know, as we get older and we’re more experienced, we’ve had more partners. So it’s gonna happen. I don’t know. I mean, Carrie and Misty play together a long time, but partnerships, they’re not forever. So it’s inevitable.
[00:12:20] Jill: , does it help knowing that partner Well when you’re facing them as an opponent, Or do you know their game a little bit better?
[00:12:28] Betsi Flint: them a little bit better? For sure. Yeah. Reading past partners and vice versa, they can do it right back. You have a lot of experience, you know, their mental side, you know, their physical side. So it’s an advantage both ways.
[00:12:40] Jill: let’s talk a bit about the serve.
A lot of things I’ve read was like, Betsi Flynn’s serve is amazing. So can you break down the action for us and how that works? Let’s start with when you’re serving, are you picking a place to aim towards or are you just
[00:12:57] Betsi Flint: throwing For sure. I think that’s, it’s hard to face a server who knows where they’re serving and having a specific.
Point is strategic and really to our advantage. So definitely as I’m serving, I’m going through my routine, I’m finding the spot I wanna serve, and I’m trying to make the ball really float. some people hit a top spin serve. Mine’s a float, so it’s gonna come fast and it’s gonna move around a little bit.
And serving is one of my favorite skills. It’s one of, you know, it’s a closed loop skill. It’s something we have a little bit more control over. Rather than the hitting and the passing, it’s based on, the action before us. So it’s a fun skill and I think it’s fun to sharpen that tool and practice and continue to get better at it every day.
[00:13:44] Jill: How is it to read somebody else’s serve? Like you talk about picking a point. Is it easy to read the opposing server and try to figure out where they’re gonna. Aim for the ball.
[00:13:57] Betsi Flint: I mean, it depends on the server, but I’ve, I played [00:14:00] berro in college, so I received a ton of serves and I’ve learned to pick up on things.
So I, I enjoy passing. I think passing’s a strength of mine and yeah, I use that to my advantage too.
[00:14:12] Jill: What kind of things do you look for? The little things that maybe we could, as we’re watching it, like we can go, oh, this is what’s gonna happen.
[00:14:20] Betsi Flint: I think as a fan, most people are just watching the ball bounce around.
Mm-hmm. But seeing the action of the hitter’s arm or the server’s arm seeing are they speeding up? Are they slowing down? What’s their elbow doing? Are they speeding up on their approach? Are they slowing down? Same thing. So yeah, seeing really what the player is doing and not staring at the ball will give you an insight as to the action they’re doing.
[00:14:43] Jill: When a player’s speeding up as they’re serving, what does that do to the ball?
[00:14:47] Betsi Flint: Typically, it’ll speed it up. So just get, you just wanna pick up on little context clues, you know, little clues here and there that help you read the direction of the ball, read where it’s going, and set you up for success for that next contact.
[00:15:02] Jill: And I’m guessing, same with slowing it if a service coming slowly, Does it kind of like you say, floats in a little
[00:15:11] Betsi Flint: bit easier or I mean, it, it’s slower. It’s a little easier. You have a lot of time. But I wouldn’t say it affects the float. The float comes off like where you’re contacting on the ball in your hand, on the ball.
[00:15:24] Jill: When you can put spin on the ball, what does that do?
[00:15:27] Betsi Flint: if you can put spin on the ball usually it makes it drop faster. So if it’s spinning down, it’s gonna, maybe if with some speed, it’ll tail off. So it changes the trajectory of the ball.
So you have to recognize early as it’s a server, a spin server, or the float server, and that affects your pass.
[00:15:46] Jill: What other things about the game that fans should look for when they’re not, now we’re not watching the ball, but what else can they read off of the
[00:15:55] Betsi Flint: players? I mean, you can look for body language, you can see. Yeah, [00:16:00] how well they’re, the team is communicating our sport’s pretty unique and fans can be pretty up close and that’s mm-hmm.
Pretty cool. They can hear everything. You can see when a player’s struggling and when they’re not. So that’d be fun to look at as a fan, I.
[00:16:16] Jill: I know this is a stupid question, but there is a lot of high-fiving. Do your palms get tired after winter game? No, not at all. Lots of high fives.
[00:16:30] Betsi Flint: So
[00:16:31] Jill: you’re a fairly new mom. How did pregnancy affect your body, especially the jumping skills, because I, I also read that it you wanted to come back sooner than your care team wanted you to come back For
[00:16:45] Betsi Flint: sure. It, that was definitely a worry of mine when I got pregnant was like, am I gonna be able to come back?
Well, I physically be able to mentally well, I want to, and for sure the jumping was one of the hardest parts because I was grounded for almost nine months. I played a little bit early on, but it was also during covid, so there wasn’t as many opportunities to continue to play, and it just took time.
And your body has all these hormones that are changing, like your muscles, your joints, and it just took a lot of patience and, and determination on my end. And eventually got to where I wanted to be. Um, but yeah, definitely physically changes our bodies and I think accepting like this is a new me and I’m not trying to be like old Betsi.
Like I’ve just gotta embrace my new self, my new, how my bodies and joints and muscles are gonna. React to like weightlifting and training and long tournaments. And I think accepting that really helps like move on and learn. Learn from your body too. Like we just went through so much, we just went through so much like birthing a human and giving ourself a little grace and like being [00:18:00] okay with not having perfection right away.
[00:18:03] Jill: So how is new Betsi better? Different. Than old Betsi.
[00:18:07] Betsi Flint: I think I was like pretty focused before, but I think even now I’m more focused and have purpose, especially every practice. Like I don’t wanna show up and go through the motions, like I’m taking time away from my family and I wanna train smarter and work harder and continue to be my best.
So it’s changed my purpose. It’s changed. I think, yeah, I mean, just naturally I’m more experienced now that I have years of playing experience. But yeah, I’d say I just wanna continue to be a good example for my daughter and to show her determination and what yeah, grit and determination look like.
[00:18:47] Jill: And,
how has your body changed?
[00:18:50] Betsi Flint: I feel like I’ve gotten back to being strong. It took a, it seemed like it took a while to like feel strong again, but I feel like I’m in a good place, that I feel really strong in the weight room. I feel strong on the sand and that’s super important to me and I feel really good playing, knock on wood, I haven’t had a ton of injuries and been able to manage everything really well, so I’m very grateful for that.
[00:19:13] Jill: was it getting your core back?
[00:19:16] Betsi Flint: Yeah, it’s tough. I worked with a pelvic floor physical therapist who I recommend for any new mom, whether you’re playing sports or not, but she taught me how to reengage my pelvic floor. She taught me how to reengage my core and just helped me strengthen just it’s pretty cool that we get to strengthen from like the ground up, like pretty much wreck your abs and now you get to Restrengthen and, just start over, which is pretty cool.
but I recommend that for everyone. I wish that it was a requirement for all mothers leaving a hospital to find a pelvic floor or physical therapist. It’s that important and it affects us throughout our entire life. So it’s critical.
[00:19:59] Jill: [00:20:00] So other players have kids, . Where I’m coming from is the whole moms as athletes has been kind of a theme over the last few years, but Carrie Walsh Jennings and Laura Ludwig’s have had kids for quite some time.
So your sport has, is no stranger to having moms on tour on. How is it for you being a mom on tour?
[00:20:24] Betsi Flint: Yeah, I think a lot of, there’s a lot of players, especially internationally, that have kids. A lot of Brazilians too, and it’s tough. It’s hard to leave and travel and be away. But it’s really cool to be an example to my daughter, my family, to young girls, to young athletes.
’cause I’ve had examples of moms before me, Carrie Nicole Browna, lauren Frick, all these people had kids and were able to come back and still perform at a high level. So I want to continue to inspire young athletes, young moms, and obviously my family, that they can continue to pursue their career and be a good mom when I’m here.
[00:21:05] Jill: How does the sport accommodate moms?
[00:21:08] Betsi Flint: I think our sport could better accommodate moms for sure. I. Recently, U s a volleyball was able to help fund pregnant athletes. This was maybe three or four, maybe four or five years ago. They changed that and they’re able to financially help us if we’re already like getting financial help and become pregnant in that time, we’re able to receive the same compensation, which is great.
Same with insurance, but it wasn’t always that way. It was before that it was. You got pregnant, you’re pretty much off the stipend, you’re off the insurance because you’re not performing. But no, they’ve changed that and that’s awesome. I think there can be new ways, and I don’t know what exactly that is, but new ways to help us.
Like with childcare, we travel so much and childcare is so expensive. And [00:22:00] right now, like. My husband’s balancing it and we’re bringing my mother-in-law in town, he’s taking off work and it’s just, it’s a big challenge and I don’t know how other countries are doing it either.
Yeah. I think there’s gotta be a way that we could be better supported financially from. Like U Ss A A V P, A volleyball world, but I don’t know what that is right now. Do
[00:22:24] Jill: you stay on the road for stretches at a time or do you go back and forth in between tournaments,
[00:22:30] Betsi Flint: all of that?
We come back and forth. Okay. We’re gone for stretches. It depends on what the tournaments look like. We did play five tournaments in a row a couple months ago, and I was able to come back like every two weeks. So we were in Europe for two weeks. I came home for a couple days, we went to Canada for two weeks, and I came home and then we went to Atlanta.
And that was hard. It was hard on my husband hard on me, hard on my daughter. Uh, but she’s resilient. I know she is. She’s okay. She is. Strong. She’s healthy, she’s loved, and she gets to build a bond with her dad, which is awesome. And that keeps me going. But it just varies depending on what the calendar and the schedule look like.
[00:23:11] Jill: Well, And it, it’s hard to figure out how to schedule that or what to do and also how to afford going back and forth. ’cause I imagine travel is also out of your own pocket. Correct.
[00:23:22] Betsi Flint: Travel’s out of our own pocket. We do get stipends as long as we’re within the top four US teams in a tournament. So they will help, give us a stipend after the fact.
But everything is on us out of pocket right away.
[00:23:37] Jill: Yeah, because I was thinking about talking with you. I remembered , we talked with the Nordic combined skier right before 2018. He was a new dad and he was going home from Europe every week after a competition just to spend time with kitten.
Like, oh my gosh, that’s so much jet lag and so much you [00:24:00] know, just the financial and, there’s no money and nor Nordic combined. So It’s interesting how parents. Balance that and manage the stress. And how does that, I don’t wanna say, how does that, the stresses of planning that, how do you turn that off and turn on the game, Betsi?
When it’s time to play?
[00:24:21] Betsi Flint: Yeah. I feel like I’m able to be in the present pretty well. I think the hard part is the downtime between tournaments. That’s when it’s hard to be away. But when I’m on the court, that’s all I’m thinking about. And I’m pretty focused, so that’s really helpful. But you brought up the jet lag.
I feel like that’s something you don’t think about when you’re planning these things. And your kids don’t care about jet lag. They don’t care if you’re tired and they’re like, my daughter’s ready to go. Almost at all hours unless she is sleeping, which is rare to sleep. So, um, oh yeah. It’s definitely, it’s hard.
It’s, it’s exhausting, but it’s incredible when I get that time at home and it’s recharging for sure.
[00:25:04] Jill: Oh yeah, I can imagine. How do you select the events you go to now? Do you sit at the beginning of the year with a calendar and go, okay, this is what we think, or,
[00:25:14] Betsi Flint: Yeah, we kind An idea or like last minutes idea?
Yeah. We have an idea of what we wanna do. We have to sign up in advance at least a month, maybe six weeks in advance. So we’re signing up for the events we want to do, and sometimes it’s last minute decision to pull out, depending on how we’re doing, maybe it’s point-wise or physically, mentally. But right now we’re playing in as many of the elite sixteens as we can, which is the top 16 in the world, internationally.
And those have the best points for Olympic qualification and some challenger events, which is like the next tier down. There’s good opportunities there if you finish well and right now we’re, we have our eyes set on world champs, which is in October. That’s [00:26:00] heavily weighted points wise, money-wise, so that’s a big tournament for us.
Where is that this year? It’s in Mexico Cola. Not too bad. Yeah, so it’s a 10 day tournament, so we’ll be there for two weeks and we go to Paris, the Elite 16 event right before that. Oh wow.
[00:26:17] Jill: Is that the, is that like a test event for. Or will it not
[00:26:22] Betsi Flint: be in the same facility? Um, no, it won’t be at the same venue.
Okay. We’re playing at the Roland Garros, which is where the tennis Oh my gosh. I know we played there last year. It’s incredible. Wait, okay.
[00:26:30] Jill: do you notice when, when they put sand over clay
[00:26:36] Betsi Flint: a No, it’s kind of the same. You don’t either? Yeah.
[00:26:38] Jill: Okay. Do you notice a difference in sand?
[00:26:41] Betsi Flint: For sure. Depends on where you are.
On the beach typically tends to be the deepest sand like Hermosa Manhattan. We played in Portugal, Espino Portugal, right on the beach, and that was super deep in slippery sand. A lot of the manmade courts feel a little more shallow, so it’s a little easier to jump and move around. So every venue’s different and that’s why we get there a few days early to feel it out.
Obviously get our bodies feeling right, but to feel the conditions and the environment and be able to visualize
[00:27:14] Jill: all of that if you have shallow sand, because obviously Paris is gonna be a manmade court as well. Easier to jump. Yes. But is it. Harder landing on your joints
[00:27:25] Betsi Flint: than for sure. Than it would be for, for sure.
And just because it’s manmade doesn’t mean it’s shallow. Sometimes they have mm-hmm. Different quality of sand that can make it deeper, but yeah, it’s harder on your joints, you know, the more compact it is.
[00:27:37] Jill: Playing a role on gar must be a blast. What keeps you jazzed about your sport?
[00:27:43] Betsi Flint: I love competing and I also love like having a purpose and fulfilling my why.
And right now that is, To continue to inspire my daughter. I love competing and bringing out traits of my dad who had passed away. [00:28:00] And for me, that’s my why for me, and obviously I wanna continue to inspire young athletes, young women to continue to pursue their dreams and chase motherhood or whatever that other goal is.
They can do it all
[00:28:13] Jill: looking ahead. It’s hard being an American because there are so many good teams and only so many make it to Paris. How much do you look at where you’re at in the rankings? Or do you just kind of worry on points?
[00:28:27] Betsi Flint: Yeah, I don’t worry too much because it’s out of my control in a way.
I can’t control the points, obviously. I’m gonna try to win as many matches as I can and that’s gonna help my points in the ranking, so I don’t pay attention to it too much. If there’s always noise and there’s things on social media that you see, but I don’t really pay too much attention or read more into it.
I think as it comes down to it, maybe at the end I’d wanna know like, what do we need, what do we need to do? Well, maybe it’ll gimme an extra push. It doesn’t put pressure on me. But right now, like there’s still a lot of time and there’s, yeah, a lot of movement can happen, so I’m just focused on me and how I can be the best each match.
[00:29:08] Jill: How do you turn off all the outside noise?
[00:29:12] Betsi Flint: Don’t get online or, I mean, anytime like there’s an article, like I, I don’t like to read it. Some people will send me articles and I’m like, no, thank you. I don’t wanna read those. So it’s just, yeah, finding the things you wanna look at and muting the things you don’t wanna see.
[00:29:30] Jill: Why should people tune into beach volleyball at Paris?
[00:29:34] Betsi Flint: For one, the venue is gonna be incredible. I’m sure people have seen pictures of it. It’s gonna be beautiful right under the Eiffel Tower, but beach volleyball is so fun and if you’ve ever walked on the sand or tried to jump or run in the sand, you know how hard it is.
So to appreciate the physical shape that all the athletes will be in will be incredible. Um, And yeah, our sport [00:30:00] is so fun to watch, great energy. We have really incredible women in our sport. We have a great couple men’s teams as well. But I think, yeah, it’ll be an awesome event to watch.
[00:30:12] Jill: Betsi Flint.
Well, thank you so much. We will be watching you as you work your way towards next year, and, uh, wish you and Julia
[00:30:19] Betsi Flint: all the best. Thank you.
[00:30:21] Jill: Thank you so much, Betsi. Betsi will be competing with Julia Scholes at the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Mexico, starting on October 6th. Just a few reminders, we will be at , the Olympin show, October 12th through 15th at the Hotel MDR in Marina Del Rey, California. It’s coming up. We’ll be there in, in about a week.
Just about. Very exciting. I’m so excited to see all the pins, collectors. I’m so excited to see everybody again. And hopefully we will see you too. The show is free to get into. So come on over and say hello to us. We will have a table. We will have microphones. We will have other goodies it’ll be great to meet everybody.
Also, a reminder that we will have a Kickstarter coming to help us get to Paris. We are, the expenses are starting to come in. I will say that. We’re getting bills. We’re getting bills. so we will have a Kickstarter to help defray the cost of some of those bills. Be on the lookout for that.
We’re aiming at probably end of October, early November for starting that. Give a big thank you to our patrons. If you’d like to support the show, see flamealivepod. com slash support. And if you can’t support us financially, there’s one. Big way you can help us out and that is signing up for and reading our free weekly newsletter.
Alison does an amazing job of putting together interesting stories every week. You can sign up for that at flamealivepod. com. Just scroll down to the bottom and there’s a little signup form.
Seoul 1988 History Moment
[00:31:48] Jill: All right
that song means it is time for our history moment all year long We’ve been looking at Seoul 1988 as it is the 35th [00:32:00] anniversary of those games my turn for a story So, you know how we always like seeing Olympic firsts we do have an interesting first for Seoul.
Did you know that the tradition of handing out condoms in the village started at Seoul?
[00:32:19] Alison: I am not surprised given the timing. This actually makes a lot of sense.
[00:32:23] Jill: Yes, it is. You are correct. At the time, the AIDS epidemic loomed large across the world. So AIDS was first discovered in 1981 and in 1987. The first treatments became available and if you want to put it into a bigger perspective, the turning point from AIDS being a death sentence to being a treatable condition doesn’t come until 1996.
So people around the world are freaking out. by Calgary, 1988, which is just a few months ahead of time, obviously not a big secret that people are having a lot of sex in the village. So public health advisors suggested it would be a good idea to have condoms to help prevent disease transmission.
So for Calgary, they did have condoms, but they put them in the pharmacy and you had to go and ask for them. Yeah. And that makes it uncomfortable. Yes, exactly. So meanwhile, Seoul is working on an AIDS prevention strategy as well. So there was a proposal to test all athletes for HIV. Yeah. And that idea was abandoned for fear of bad publicity.
And instead they decided to stock the village with anywhere from 6, 000 to 8, 500 condoms. I saw differing numbers in my research. They also had pamphlets about AIDS and this was the first time that condoms were freely available in the village. No going to the pharmacy. And reportedly, Many articles cited this fact, but I could not find the original source.
The organizers had to put an official ban on outdoor sex during the games because there were so many condoms found on the roof of the village apartment buildings.
[00:33:58] Alison: Well, that [00:34:00] actually makes a lot of sense in this, those of us who have, have had communal living. If you’ve got a roommate or multiple roommates, I mean, the roof is a little extreme, but I understand the circumstances under which that could happen.
[00:34:15] Jill: Right. So again, fear of AIDS was high in the country. And what did the government do? Put the blame on foreigners. Of course. Being the ones who would spread AIDS. So ahead of the games, the government also developed a public relations campaign in the city and the health and social. Affairs Ministry wanted to educate Koreans, as many foreigners were coming through.
So they created pamphlets in seven languages and distributed two million of them in places like airports and hotels. Did it say don’t have sex
[00:34:44] Alison: with those dirty
[00:34:45] Jill: foreigners? Well, probably, because they also had they scaled up free AIDS testing at airports as well. Yeah. and that was voluntary.
It was, they considered to make that mandatory as well for foreigners coming in, but they decided not to. , UPI said that at the time under South Korean law, a carrier of the AIDS virus could be sentenced to one to three years in prison or fined up to 4, 110 if they were found guilty of deliberately spreading AIDS.
So, it’s a different time and a really different mindset that was going on. So yes, this is where condoms came from. Since then, every Olympics has had condoms. The biggest one so far has been Rio, where they had 450, 000 condoms. A little different. COVID 19 did put a little crimp in the works.
Only 150, 000 were available at Tokyo and they were given as parting gifts to bring home to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS because you were, you know, obviously you had to be in your own little bubble during COVID and not have relations with others.
And they were at Beijing as well. But again, We wanted to maintain social [00:36:00] distancing as much as possible there, so not too much was made about the condoms. Well,
[00:36:05] Alison: a lot of athletes have said they were taking the condoms home as souvenirs because they’re branded. They have the rings on them and they’re not on the condom, on the package.
it’s special. So how many of those are actually of the 450, 000 are getting used or getting brought home as a souvenir? Nobody said that that’s their favorite souvenir yet on our lightning round. I’m
[00:36:28] Jill: waiting. We may have to ask a special question just to, get a little bit of survey data.
[00:36:34] Alison: Welcome to Shooklastan.
[00:36:43] Jill: it is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests of the show and listeners who are make up our citizenship of Shooklastan, our very own country. Start it off. Tim
[00:36:55] Alison: Sherry won bronze at the men’s 10 meter air rifle at the first of two U.
- Olympic trials.
[00:37:02] Jill: Olya Abasolov Chinnikova, who now works for the International Olympic Committee. She will be speaking at Sportsbiz Europe, which takes place October 17th through 20th in Barcelona.
[00:37:14] Alison: Kelly Chang competed at the Paris Elite 16 Tournament. She finished top of their group, but didn’t make it out of the quarterfinals.
The beach volleyball championships will be in Mexico and that tournament runs October 6th through the 15th.
Paris 2024 Update
[00:37:27] Jill: Oh
[00:37:34] Alison: no.
[00:37:37] Jill: I should not laugh because big news from the International Paralympic Committee. They had their general assembly meeting and this was a big one because the membership voted on whether or not Russia and Belarus should remain as members of the International Paralympic Committee is
[00:37:54] Alison: the result.
Okay. So there were two different votes. Well, actually there were [00:38:00] four different votes. First of all on Russia, then on Belarus. The Russian Paralympic Committee has Not been completely banned. They still have a temporary ban in
[00:38:13] Jill: place and this is a membership ban. This is a membership
[00:38:17] Alison: ban.
And then there was a 2nd vote that said Russian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals for Paris 2024 in the Paralympics. So what we’re talking about right now is only the Paralympics. The IOC has not voted on this yet. The interesting thing to me on this is that this means individuals may compete, but not teams.
So that’s a big difference in the past with other bands where they were allowed to have teams compete, but no. So even in things like relays, you will not be able to have a neutral team of Russian athletes.
[00:38:55] Jill: Which to me, I mean, kind of the point of them being allowed to compete is that you don’t want to hurt the athletes, but really what you’re doing is hurting athletes in team sports because individuals get to go, but, oh, the goalball team doesn’t get to go.
The basketball teams don’t get to go. The rugby teams don’t get to go. So. How is that fair?
[00:39:18] Alison: But on the flip side of that, one of the criticisms that we have expressed, certainly in the past, was when Russian athletes were allowed to compete as neutral athletes from Russia, first of all, everyone just called them the Russians.
And when you’re competing in a team sport, they still were, the Russian Paralympic committee team. So the team was there, we don’t know yet how they’re going to walk in the opening ceremonies, how they’re going to be acknowledged. None of that has been worked out yet. The Russians were there.
In a way that did not punish anybody for anything, right? So that has [00:40:00] been in relation to doping. So that ban is done for the IPC. They’re doping issues are done. So now this is all related to the war in Ukraine.
[00:40:10] Jill: It’s complicated. And these votes were pretty close. I will say that
[00:40:14] Alison: they were close and people feel very strongly obviously one way or the other. Ukraine obviously has come out and condemned this decision but has not said anything about whether they are planning to boycott or not. I think they’re waiting for what the IOC is going to do because they’re going to have one decision for the whole.
Paris 2024 as a whole.
[00:40:36] Jill: It’s complicated. I was kind of surprised at this decision considering how strongly the IPC came down on Russia for the doping bans and saying they just couldn’t come to Rio for track at all. That was pretty amazing. But you can see how this is just such a contentious topic throughout the membership.
I don’t think there’s any one right answer that there’s obviously not one answer that’s going to satisfy everybody.
[00:41:06] Alison: And I can understand the difference between the doping and the war in Ukraine because doping affects what happens on the field of play. It is very direct to an athlete and their doping.
Whereas the war in Ukraine, if even if you are a soldier, are you really making those decisions yourself? I mean the point of being a soldier is you follow orders. And if You know, you’re being sent to the front. I doubt many soldiers would be, yay, hooray, I get to die. That’s just not how it works.
So this is what the government is doing. This is not even what the Paralympic Committee is doing. It’s what the Russian government. So like you said, it is multilayered. It is complicated. I. And this is going to affect other federations. So this, so the IPC still controls certain [00:42:00] federations of Paralympic sports.
So Russians and Belarusians will be allowed to compete in qualifying tournaments. This is not a blanket statement that all federations who send athletes to the Paralympics will allow Russians to compete in the qualifying sports. So that doesn’t mean we are going to have Russian neutrals in every sport because those federations could still ban athletes from competing and qualifying.
So then is the IPC going to turn around and give them passes when they technically haven’t
[00:42:35] Jill: qualified? That’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. Complicated situation gets more complicated. Oh man, if you were thinking about taking a boat down the Seine to take a look at the Olympic Village because the village is located on the Seine in Saint Saint Denis think again because river traffic near the village will be halted for the duration of both the Olympics and Paralympics to protect the athletes.
Now the Seine is still a major shipping route. So, they’re going to divert all of the shipping traffic over to a smaller arm of the SEN during this time, of which they need to make improvements like dredging, putting in signals, and all of these other things. So, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make this possible.
[00:43:22] Alison: There’s going to be a lot happening on the SEN that people did not really think this through, it feels
[00:43:28] Jill: like. It’ll be interesting to see how that… Really affects all of the shipping traffic. I’ll be interested to see how it, how the river gets used because it obviously is a big, important waterway for the whole country, not just the city, but boy, man, this is going to be something.
So we’ll be
[00:43:48] Alison: there. After the Olympics, before the Paralympics. So when none of the athletes are there, we will still probably be in Paris. So I just have this vision of, standing on one of the bridges and all of a [00:44:00] sudden, all these little container boats that have been waiting for the two weeks, just crowd the river and run down and it’s like, the cheese is here.
The wine is coming back to Paris.
[00:44:13] Jill: Also coming to Paris is a makeover of the Champagne Lysée. Now, the city was going to do a massive transformation makeover update after the games, but. The business owners along the avenue are a little embarrassed about the way things look right now, so they have taken matters into their own hands, says the Guardian.
They are standardizing what the terraces look like. The terraces sound like outdoor patio kind of structures and things like that. So they’re standardizing the terraces and the awnings. these areas will have battery operated blinds, the awnings will be battery operated because that will get rid of the need for the cords all over the sidewalk, which they have right now, apparently.
[00:44:59] Alison: imagine the meeting of all the business people. There was a lot of smoke. There was a lot of coffee. Oh, the world cannot see us like this. This is embarrassing. And, you know, I, I give them a lot of credit to want to, it’s like everyone’s getting ready for the class reunion.
[00:45:17] Jill: Right, right. And this is not going to be a little cheap thing.
It’s, it’s a small fix that’ll make it look a lot nicer, but I bet the cords all over the sidewalk is going to be a… Big improvement because all I saw was like, well, that’s good that you’re getting rid of like the trip and fall aspect. Because you know who’s going to trip and fall.
[00:45:35] Alison: Americans. Oh, I was just going to say me.
Speaking of who else is going to Paris.
[00:45:43] Jill: Oh, who else is already there? Bed
[00:45:45] Alison: bugs. I’m sure you’ve heard so many stories about this wild bed bug infestation in Paris. I was very relieved to hear that, first of all, bed bug infestation in [00:46:00] Paris peaks in July and August because those are the travel months.
People going in, people going out. It is normal to have a peak. It is the biggest peak they have ever seen, but it has been increasing over the past 30 years, not just in Paris, but all around Europe.
[00:46:17] Jill: But when will we be in Paris? July and August. I know. And September.
[00:46:22] Alison: But the French health minister Aurelien Rousseau assured me personally, no, he didn’t assure me personally, but in an article in Reuters, we haven’t been invaded by bedbugs. So I do think as you commented on our Facebook group, this may be the insect story of the Olympics.
[00:46:43] Jill: Right. I did not have. Thank you. bedbugs on my bingo card of what the massive media story will be. But this is obviously one that they are going to just nonstop cover. Yeah. The
[00:46:56] Alison: health minister in his press conference said that the stories about bedbugs being in the seats at movie theaters or being in the dressing rooms of stores, they have seen no evidence of this, that those are just urban myths, that Other bugs have been identified as bed bugs and people film them, but they’re not actually bed bugs.
They’re just regular, ordinary bugs that won’t hurt you.
[00:47:23] Jill: That calms me down, I guess.
[00:47:26] Alison: The bed bug thing is, I said this in the Facebook group, it does make my skin crawl. I’m not a bed, I’m not a bug person. Like, I don’t get freaked out by bugs. They don’t bother me. I, you know, kill spiders with my bare hands. I have no problems with bugs. Except bed bugs and nits.
Those are the two kinds of bugs that really just send me into orbit.
[00:47:49] Jill: We will take precautions. You know what
[00:47:51] Alison: we need? We need those hazmat suits from Beijing. They can recycle them.
Let’s get a couple of those on us. [00:48:00] We’ll be set. That’s how we’ll sleep.
[00:48:03] Jill: Oh, great.
[00:48:07] Alison: Which will be great with the heat. I mean, that’s the other
[00:48:09] Jill: story. Well, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of legs this story has and how long it will continue and whether it will, die down. Over the winter and then come back, but we’ll see.
I’ll be interested to see who, which reporters get put on to the
[00:48:26] Alison: bedbug beat. You shouldn’t have said legs because now I
[00:48:30] Jill: have mental images. Well, you know what you can do with legs? You can walk for Paralympics New Zealand. Paralympics New Zealand is building support for its team ahead of Paris with a campaign called One Team to Paris.
So they are asking people to sign up and log their exercise distances. You can walk and run and bike and swim and do all these things. The goal is to get what they’re hoping will be a 60 member team, the 40, 000 kilometers to Paris and back. So this is a free program, it’s to show support.
You can also donate a dollar per kilometer that you do, but that’s not necessary. You can create your profile and sign up at one team to paris. org. nz. And my guess is that they’re trying to get the 40, 000. kilometers per person on the team because they’ve got almost 40, 000 kilometers right now.
[00:49:21] Alison: That’s a lot of kilometers.
You forget how big the world is sometimes until you’re traveling it, right?
[00:49:27] Jill: Oh, Athens. One week you have a nice story about let’s get some legacy back in and the next week your stadiums are closed because the roofs are unstable. You know,
[00:49:46] Alison: you think about Greece, you think about ancient monuments that have survived for millennia. This stadium couldn’t even make it like 25 years.
[00:49:56] Jill: Isn’t it crazy? It’s just unreal. [00:50:00] So Reuters did report that the roofs on the stadium, the main stadium and the cycling track are not safe. So the venues have been closed for the time being. The stadium actually does get used for concerts and soccer matches. So that does put a little kink in some scheduling works, but.
Hopefully they will put that on the fix it list. Can you imagine what the honeydew list in Greece is?
[00:50:26] Alison: Save ancient monuments, get our stuff back from the British Museum, rebuild the entire Olympic Park.
[00:50:36] Jill: Oh man, Well, that will do it for this week. Let us know what you think of teaming in beach volleyball.
[00:50:44] Alison: You can connect with us on X and Instagram at Flame Alive Pod. Email us at Flame Alive email@example.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook. And don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episode.
You can sign up for firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:51:14] Jill: Next week, we are excited to welcome back Shook Flastani Phil Andrews. You may remember that last time Phil was on, he was the head of USA Weightlifting. Now he is moved over to lead USA Fencing. So he’s going to talk with us about his newish role at the US Fencing Association. We are excited to welcome him back and hope you join us for that too.
Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.