Book Club Claire has really gotten into volleyball lately, so it’s only fitting that we discuss the book If Gold Is Our Destiny: How a Team of Mavericks Came Together for Olympic Glory by Sean P. Murray. This book tells the story of the US men’s 1984 gold-medal-winning volleyball team, and they journey the team went on to get that medal.

Volleyball was very different back in the 1970s and 1980s than the game you see today. At the 1984 Olympics, players dealt with side out rules, meaning that you could only score a point if you were serving (which added a lot of time onto games). The libero position did not yet exist, and you could start to see the evolution of the jump serve.

Volleyball was added to the Olympic program at Tokyo 1964. Despite the game being invented in the US, American teams were not volleyball powerhouses and often struggled to even qualify for the Olympics. That changed when coach Doug Bell started leading the team and started experimenting with organizational and team psychology–new elements in sports back then.

Even though the athletes were not thrilled with all of the experiments (including a long Outward Bound journey), it did pay off with Olympic gold. Check out the finals of the men’s volleyball tournament at LA 1984, when the US faced Brazil:

If you haven’t read this book yet, grab your copy through our Bookshop.org storefront (affiliate link)!

Follow Claire on Insta and X!

In other news…

The Beijing 2022 figure skating team medal situation will continue to drag on for a while: Skate Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee are appealing the reallocated results.

In Paris 2024 news, we learn how the Olympics will affect grain shipments, and how Manny Pacquiao won’t be able to contend for a medal. Plus, Poland will have a hospitality house!

Slidingnovela update: Milan-Cortina has started construction on the new sliding venue, with just over 700 days until they host the Winter Olympics. What could possibly go wrong?

In news from TKFLASTAN, we hear from:

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


TRANSCRIPT

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325-Book Club Claire on If Gold Is Our Destiny

[opening music]

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?

Alison: I am feeling very Italian today.

Because I am surrounded by construction.

So let me just apologize to the listeners. I am in fact. Working in a construction site today. So if there’s some background noise, I

Jill: apologize. Well, I hope you get some good quotes because you know who else is under construction? Cortina! I know, exactly! We will have news on, uh, coming up. Oh my gosh, it has been a good week for great quotes.

So you found one for the newsletter. If you don’t subscribe to the newsletter, you missed out on a great Russian coach quote. Oh my gosh, that goes into the classics. I need to keep a book, you know, a list of great quotes.

Alison: I mean, an entire book of Russian coach quotes would be quite a tome in and of itself.

Jill: So if you missed the newsletter, you missed out on a good one. Don’t forget to subscribe. Go to flamealivepod. com for that. Also, oh my gosh, it started off with listener Rosie sending us a great article about , women in ski jumping and how is that, you know, trying to build up the sport and the, the difficulties they face, which included, oh my gosh, one of those great quotes from back when they were trying to get into the Olympics and men in power kept saying that, women weren’t suited for ski jumping for medical reasons.

So Rosie, thank you for that. Always puts a smile on my face.

Alison: We both read the the article separately, and yet we both responded to Rosie with the same, this was perfect.

Jill: Oh, and we got a great quote coming up for Milan Cortina, getting back to construction, so be on the lookout for that. But uh, going ahead with today’s show, Book Club Claire is back.

We are reading, uh, If gold is our destiny, how a team of Mavericks came together for Olympic glory by Sean P. Murray. This is about the journey of the U. S. men’s volleyball team getting to the 1984 Olympics and what it took for them to come together as a team and, spoiler alert, win gold in LA. Take a listen to our conversation.

[BOOK CLUB MUSIC]

Book Club Claire on “If Gold Is Our Destiny”

Jill: Claire, welcome back. We are talking about the book, If Gold Is Our Destiny, how a team of Mavericks came together for Olympic glory by Sean P. Murray. What do you got for us?

Claire: Hey, hey, hey, I have a pretty good book. If anybody was, I know a few people were like, Oh my gosh, she really didn’t like that last book, which I didn’t.

And I stand by it. But I did really like this one. So this book is all about the 1984 men’s volleyball team, how they all came together and took gold in the 84 Olympics in Los Angeles. And I didn’t know this story at all. Because I was number one, not born in 1984 and number two, I don’t know, men’s volleyball.

, I never learned the history of it. Um, women’s volleyball too, to be completely honest , I played volleyball as a kid, but didn’t learn anything about how it formed and the Olympic history. So this was just all basically brand new and I really liked it. So I would like to hear what you thought.

Jill: I really enjoyed this book. It was a easy read. It was also something that I was not aware of with. The backstory, I remember watching LA 84 and being in love with the team and Karch Kiraly and Steve Timmons and the story of them winning was fantastic, but I didn’t know the long, hard journey they had to get there.

And it was fascinating to read this book. I thought it was well written. It’s one of those books where You’ve got a narrator in the third person, but it’s not like they focused on one person on the team. They, they were able to really talk about the whole team and the coaching staff and this angle of introducing psychology and sports psychology and organizational psychology into the mix in a time where those theories were really new and really weird.

And it was just really fascinating how it all came together like that. I, I really, really enjoyed this book.

Alison: It’s easy to forget that there were a lot of sports that the U. S. was not dominant in. We’re so used to now Team USA winning the most medals, winning the most golds, and that was not the case, especially prior to 84.

So I too, I remember the team, but I. Did not remember that they were the first U. S. volleyball team in several Olympics , to even qualify, you know, the first men’s team to even qualify, nevermind medal. And of course, Karthik Rai. I almost know him more now than then. It’s like I know the legacy of what he’s done and, and the figure he is in the sport, but not the kid from California showing up all the big guys on the beach.

So that was a lot. That was a lot of fun. It was a, it was a fun book to read.

Claire: I like that you brought up the sports psychology side of things because that was a whole lot of fun. And also just interesting to see the things that didn’t click with people in the late seventies and early eighties, whereas right for nowadays.

That’s almost habit. You know, okay, go out and do a trip together, get together and with your buddies and, and form , this group so that when you come back onto the court, you have this team. And back then it was just like, okay, a bunch of guys show up and you play and that’s it. So to see how.

both Chuck Johnson and Don Murray were able to create this atmosphere and have people write stuff on index cards, you know, which is office etiquette at this point. You know, every office does something like that. To see it in the world of sports, I thought was pretty awesome. And to have.

Don’s son, Sean, be the one that actually wrote the book, you know, that he was going to get a lot of interesting information for sure. did you notice a lot of differences between volleyball now and volleyball back then? Cause I caught a few as I was reading,

Alison: I loved the East coast, West coast rap war that was happening at the time that you had these collegiate volleyball players.

Ohio, who knew Ohio was a hotbed of volleyball at the time, and then the West Coast beach players. And now that beach volleyball is in the Olympics. That’s also, I think, changed the culture of elite level volleyball, , as well.

Jill: I also thought it was interesting with the East Coast, West Coast, and Ohio, but now that I live in Cleveland and I see and No, the story of so many different immigrant cultures coming here to live and, and they brought volleyball with them and how important volleyball was in many of these Eastern European countries.

I can understand how the Ohio connection works. And I thought it was so interesting to have all of these guys from California who grew up playing on the beach and they had no coaching. So they figured it out and they did their own way. And the egos on these people were just amazing. And to try to.

Put that together in a team. It was really interesting to see that work with these new techniques of Team building and organizational training kind of things

Alison: it very much reminded me of what we watched in Miracle

Claire: Mm hmm. That was what I was gonna say. Yep.

Alison: Yeah same time frame Same we haven’t had a lot of success in this sport and a miracle.

It was the Boston kids and the upper Midwest And then coming together as a team and it was that same dynamic with the charismatic coach and with a new system and doing it a little differently than had been done before.

Jill: Speaking of charismatic coach, what I thought was interesting because Doug Beale, the coach, had been a player and he had really, really wanted to be an Olympic player in an in his own right.

And the team didn’t make it for 1976. That was his big chance. And then, of course, 1980 happened. And the book doesn’t really talk about how the boycott affected the team very much. But then you get to 1984, and the run up to 1984, and how he inserts himself back into the team as a player coach. And you see in a way that ego that just really wants the chance to have his own shot and how that hurt the team for a while.

And that just fascinated me as well. There were so many elements of that in this book that was just fascinating from a team building perspective.

Claire: And every character was interesting. They had two specific chapters on Karch Kiraly. One on Karch Kiraly and one on Chris Marlowe. , who many people might know nowadays as an announcer.

Which I was not aware of. , so to get that early chapter on Marlowe and then have him be cut. Later, like right before the Olympics, I was like, Oh, there has to be some interesting character development coming where he comes back. This is not the end for him. It can’t possibly be the end.

And then we get the injury while they’re in Europe and they have to call him back and be like, Oh, by the way. You need to come back and be part of the pretty setter squad, which these guys, I mean, for the eighties, pretty good looking guys, I must say, I mean, for the eighties, did you see their shaggy hair?

I mean, it’s, you know, it is late seventies, mullets and mustaches. Let’s just be honest here. But I digress. Every single player was an interesting character, , who stuck out for you. Besides, you can’t say Karch Kiraly.

Alison: I’m going to say Karch Karai’s father. Just he, he appears very briefly, but he was definitely one of these old school Eastern European dads who pushed his son and Karch obviously loved him, respected him, credits him in many ways.

But it would be interesting to explore that , in a different venue than this book as to what that actually looked like and, and how that positively and probably negative negatively affected him in his coaching career later.

Jill: I still go back to Doug Beal and I, I think what really resonated me with And what really resonated with me in reading this book is when I was doing, a whole lot of crew heading as, an official for roller Derby.

And I I didn’t really know how to lead crew and do management. I worked by myself. I don’t have a management role very much, and I didn’t know how to, to wrangle a. a crew of people coming from different parts of the country, different parts of the world, and be successful at it. So I read like a lot of John Wooden at the time, and I’ve read some Phil Jackson, but boy would I have loved reading this book.

When I was really in my prime of learning how to be a better crew leader.

Claire: You know who I didn’t like? Pat Powers. he was the one that stood in line for a hot dog during a match. It’s like, okay, why? I mean, there, there has It can’t have been that much of a, you know, carnival atmosphere for him to just scoot over.

He, he was going to be, be a player. So I’m just saying like when he came back, I’m just like, really does, are you going to welcome him back? Just let him go. Anyway. volleyball, I did watch the match, the 84 gold medal match. it was on YouTube. I believe it was a Brazilian feed.

So if you go to YouTube and just Google it, it is the only one where it actually has the full match from start to finish.

and I did notice quite a few things. So if, if you enjoy volleyball, a lot of it is the same, you know, bumps that spike all of that, but no jump serve, except the Brazilians were kind of at the Genesis of the jump serve. They even tried it in the match. with mixed success, which was interesting. there still isn’t a Libro or Libero or li ber ro, there’s a lot of different ways I’ve heard that term used, but that didn’t come into, short person in the middle.

Yeah. There you go. With a different jersey. And that didn’t come into play until the late nineties.

Jill: Right. So that messes me up continually because my brain is still in this six person rotation. And I’ve, I’ve now gotten beyond that. You have to side out in order to earn a point and be serving to earn a point.

But the libero has really, really thrown my brain for a loop. So I need to watch a lot more volleyball.

Claire: I actually had a part time job as a. Libro tracker in college that was in the mid 2000s. So I figured out what the Libro did and how it always replaced, like in some cases it replaces the middle blocker, so that the middle blocker doesn’t have to worry about the back row. so I was actually the person making sure that the Libro came in and replaced the correct people, and she would always step out when it was the person’s turn to serve. And then we’d come back in for the other person that just went from the back to the front.

so I picked up on that as I was watching the feed and they didn’t ever mention Libro in the book either, but you mentioned rally scoring. That is the reason that volleyball is so much better now because side out scoring is stupid. That’s why I didn’t like volleyball as a kid, because it took forever to get a stupid point.

But now with rally scoring, you get, even if it’s a side out, that team gets a point, and then you get to serve. It’s just so much better. I don’t know why they thought side out scoring was, was a thing, but it is so much better now, I got to say.

Any other things that you noticed that was different as you were like, either Watching the match or reading the book,

Jill: was trying somewhat unsuccessfully to look at the offense and defense because that’s one of the other things that I did not really understand about volleyball is to is how you build a strategy.

And I had that problem for a lot of team sports. So that’s one of the things on my list that I’m trying to figure out is how you build a strategy, how you build offensive defense. And I thought it was really interesting how in depth they went into explaining how they developed this American, their own style of play.

And I loved how when they finally played the Soviet Union, with this new strategy, the Soviets were like, this is like spaghetti. We don’t know what’s going on. And I was starting to see it in action when I was watching some of the gold medal match from LA 84. And that’s one of the things I want to try to look for as we go to Paris is understanding what.

A team’s strategies are offensively and defensively and how they work against each other.

Claire: It is interesting to see that kind of Eastern European, you know, iron wall blocking the strategy, as it had been for many years. And then the Americans throw this in. And I think it was one of the Japanese coaches mentioned that you can’t learn the American style because the Americans.

I have that American style and they’re the only ones who can really pull it off and I could definitely see that So the American style if you didn’t read the book instead of having three or four Passers receiving a ball in the serve They only put two back there because they counted on their two guys to be able to get the ball no matter what and not Give them any interference One of them was Cart to Cry, and the other one, if I recall, was Aldous Bersin’s A Great Digger, I guess.

and this is before the Libro, so I’m sure that threw a whole thing in the loop as well. I was very interested, you, you mentioned Ohio. And they moved the, they actually created, I guess, a training center for volleyball and moved it to Dayton and it was very unsuccessful. And then they ended up moving it to California.

I thought that was very interesting hearing the ups and downs of the national team as it’s going through the seventies. Jill, have you been to Dayton recently or anything like that? Is there a remnant of volleyball there?

Jill: I have not been to Dayton, but it is on our list. And I think I will try to look for something and to see if there is anything.

But again, this is another element that is new to America is having these national training centers. It seems like because the Iron Curtain system that the Soviets tended to use in many other countries behind the Iron Curtain, where basically they had training centers, they had all of these things and, and Americans didn’t because they were very much amateurs and had their day jobs and then they’d have practice and then they’d kind of do whatever.

But building this first training center was so fascinating because nobody wanted it. Except for like Dayton, so then you had the problem of all these guys from California who couldn’t handle winter and it’s funny that that Murray plays a fine line there of, you’ve got Doug Beale who’s from Ohio and can hack winter and then you have all of these players from California , who, you know, are turning up their noses at the idea of being cold, where I think from my perspective, I read that as you can’t, you’re not tough enough for this buddy, you know, and they just want to run back to where it’s warm and easy, but it’s just interesting that this place became a fish out of water place for volleyball and it just it really wasn’t successful and and they just didn’t have an easy time selling California cities on having a training center and it was really just hard to put together so you kind of make do with what you have and the Just didn’t work for them, and for years, did not work.

Alison: And the idea at the time for so many American Olympic teams, it was, let’s put together a collegiate all star team. Basketball was like that, hockey, as we mentioned before, was like that. And the idea that you would have any kind of cohesive, long standing team didn’t exist because you couldn’t pay them.

You know, you can’t keep these guys all in one place. Without jobs, without money. And now, of course we have national training centers. We have multiple national training centers. These guys make money. They don’t just have to sort of scrounge and scrape. So that’s such a different mindset. And this was the genesis.

And not just for volleyball. I think this was true of many, many sports at this time. That American sports were really changing. And 84 was such a catalyst for that.

Claire: Yeah, 84 and 80, both of those, I mean, changed American Olympic teams for years to come and in the positive for the most part, which I’m very thankful for.

I have two questions for you. I would like your thoughts on, the first one thoughts on the outward bound. Journey.

Jill: I’d love that. I thought that was great. Again, from an organizational and team perspective, if you’re in the management and you’ve got this team that is not coming together, and all of these egos that are not working together and don’t want to work together.

And it sounded like just a huge, bitter divide between East and West and you’ve got to do something. And I thought the outward bound was a stroke of genius. I mean, yeah, That was a long trip. I will say a long trip to put people in and they had been traveling forever. And I, I understand why nobody wanted to do it, but it really did work in the end.

It took a long time to make it work, but I just thought that that was a key element of trying to get this team to have some kind of common experience, especially outside of volleyball, where they weren’t agreeing on the volleyball court. You had to get them in a different environment to make them agree.

Alison: It was very risky, that’s for sure. I mean, that could have been the end of the team, and it seems successful. Because it worked, though, I don’t know if I would take that as a template and use that across the board, especially now. I mean, I think this was very specific to time and place. I don’t think a situation like that would work with it.

I don’t wanna say this generation of athletes, but it’s a very different world than it was in the early eighties. but it, it is fun to read. You’re like, Oh, this is going to get interesting. Let’s put a bunch of very excited boys out in the wilderness.

Claire: And the interviews that they got, a lot of them still aren’t happy.

Like they they complained and complained and complained up to it and Doug Beal and Bill Neville the assistant coach were like we are doing this no Exceptions except for coach because he has to finish school And all of this stuff it was just I was a long part of the book. I will say that, that probably I didn’t like that as much because it just, it kept going.

Yes. You’re going on this trip. All right, go on this trip already. But just to see how it all came together. And I think even now. The players don’t realize how much it brought them together. They just see it as a trip that was not fun and very cold. And they were in Utah and, traversing the mountains and the prairies in January and February.

And I didn’t know anything about our run. Are you both familiar with it? like, have you heard of it outside

Jill: of this book?

I, I have heard of it

Claire: okay. Alison, do you have any familiarization with Outward Bound?

Alison: Other than the, the name, not really. Okay. And I was a little concerned it was going to be like, the wilderness camps for the troubled teens was a little concerned when they kept talking about it. Like, I’m like, Oh God, what happens on this trip?

Claire: I don’t think there’s any Friday the 13th stuff happening. second question, what did you think about Doug Beal prohibiting his players from playing beach volleyball for those last couple of years leading up to the Olympics?

Alison: I get it’s a different style. It’s a different, I don’t want to say different muscle groups, but it’s a different way of thinking about the

Jill: sport.

And beach volleyball is self coached. So if they are having problems being coached and, and dealing with the coach, as much as it really shocked everybody, especially those guys who wanted to play beach, I can see why Doug Beal did that. And I think that helped overall. I think that they were forced to, it took one avenue of individualism out of the mix of when you really needed to be a team.

And I do have to say, I thought it was really interesting with Karchakrai who got a pass for a lot of stuff because he was going to school for medicine and there were sometimes some semesters where he could not be part of the team because this was the only time he had to take this one class he needed and then.

He ended up never going into medicine.

Claire: Yeah. He ended up, uh, assisting with volley volleyball platforms and, he did do beach volleyball for a little bit, didn’t he? Yeah. Oh yes, he did. And then he coached the women’s team. If you were watching in 2021, uh, the women’s team that won the gold medal, which to my shock, first gold medal ever for the women’s team that I, that just really surprised me that it took that long, but.

Women’s volleyball, I like, is magnificent and I, I can’t wait to watch it. I’m going to be watching a couple in Paris. my final thought is, I thought that the name of the book I thought was very clever. That’s okay. The book is just called if gold is our destiny and I’m wondering all through the book It’s like why is it called this?

Why did Sean Murray name it this, you know? He could have just named it volleyball and put two exclamation points at the end But but then he brings it in that he has been giving us sections of Chris Marlowe’s diary Chris Marlowe who ended up being named captain After he had been kicked out and then brought back due to someone else’s injury and if gold is our destiny was in the diary That was read right before the gold medal game and kind of pumped them up And then he brings it back at the very end.

It’s like one of the last sentences of the book So I thought that was very clever I, again, thoroughly enjoyed this book, it makes me want to fly high and hit a giant spike even though I cannot jump more than like two inches off of the ground, it’s really bad. Do you guys have anything else to add?

Jill: I would add if you are an Olympian or if you are doing any kind of big event, it doesn’t have to be sports, if you’re doing a big theater event, if you’re doing some kind of big special event, keep a diary.

Even if it’s, it doesn’t have to be full sentences, even if it’s just dashed thoughts or a bullet list of something, keep a diary because you’ll want to remember that. And this Chris Marlowe diary was really helpful for the writing of the book, but it was just so interesting to read as well when you’ve got excerpts of it.

And then you, you got other players saying, Oh, I wish I’d kept a diary. And so it’s really important to just try to remember that. And those moments and, and keep them down on paper.

Oh, you know what else I have to add? Because I, I thought about this. Alison and I have read three books in a row by Roman and Littlefield Publishers. They also published Amy Alley Card’s book on the Tigerbelles and they published Stephen Lane’s book on the first LA 84 Marathon.

I got to say three winners and they’re right up there with University of Nebraska Press as some of my favorite Olympic book publishers. So we’ve got another one on our list. Alison and I do, and I am looking forward to that just because it’s by the same publisher.

Claire: Yeah, if you are, if you are looking for Olympic books, I can say, okay, number one, Boys in the Boat, definitely.

I don’t know if it was just because it was the first one we ever read, but I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed that one. Second, second one would be this one. Pick this one up, find it in the library or a secondhand store, read it. You will not be disappointed. Even if you don’t like volleyball, it’ll make you like volleyball and.

And yeah, just definitely check this one out. it was worthwhile. I’m glad it came across our feeds and I am so glad that we read it.

Alison: We all heart Karch now.

Claire: I heart Chris Marlowe, but you know, that’s,

Jill: that’s your prerogative.

Alison: You know, when you, when we, talk about him on the show, during the Tokyo episodes, now you can understand.

It’s kind of like, mommy, what did he look like when he was younger? Oh, well, let me, let me show you. The gold medal badge from 84. And you will understand.

Claire: I did have to ask my mom. I, I did, it was basically the same thing. I was home for Christmas. Like, mom, do you know who Karch Kiralyi is? Oh yeah, of course I know who Karch Kiralyi is.

So I just kind of brought his name up out of the blue. No, no context since she knew, she knew exactly who I was talking about. So, yeah,

Jill: excellent. All right, Claire, what’s on tip? We got a few months because we’re doing all this kind of Paris stuff, but what’s our last book of the year?

Claire: It’s a good thing that we have a couple months because this thing is gigantic.

It is thick. It is called Today We Die A Little by Richard Asquith. It is about the inimitable Emil Zadopek, the greatest Olympic runner of all time. I have wanted to read about Zadabek for a very long time. I’m probably not even saying his name right, but I’m looking forward to reading this book Getting a little more information and it’s gonna take me a while to get through this because of all the stuff that’s going on Um, actually now that I look at the back pages are quite it’s only 386 pages.

So it’s not that it’s not as long as I thought it was going to be but definitely pick it up read it nice summer reading while you’re waiting for the Olympics to start in July and I am looking forward to coming back in the fall and sharing

Jill: that with you. Excellent, Claire. Thank you so much. You’re welcome.

Thank you so much, Claire. Follow Claire on X at Cauldron Light and on Instra at Light the Cauldron. We will have links to those in the show notes. If you haven’t read the book, you can look for it on our bookshop. org affiliate site. We will have a link to that in the show notes as well and, get involved on our Facebook group because we want to hear what you think of it.

Beijing 2022 News

Jill: To nobody’s surprise, Skate Canada, working with the Canadian Olympic Committee, has officially appealed the reallocated results of the team competition in figure skating for Beijing 2022.

What have you read about this?

Alison: So we went through the whole details of the scoring when the decision came out saying that the way it all panned out, Canada was still in fourth place. And the Russians were placed in third, needless to say, Canadians were not happy about this, thinking it is unfair. The Canadians have asked for an independent reevaluation of this, kind of like an American politics when people say we need an independent council.

They want somebody outside the International Skating Union to review this because Skate Canada is saying that the ISU has violated its own rules.

Jill: Interesting. Well, I’m sure that this won’t be solved anytime soon.

Alison: Also in their statement, Skate Canada congratulated the United States and Japan who have been reallocated to gold and silver and said that they hoped that their actions did not delay the awarding of their medals, which we know is not going to be the case, but it was nice to see that everyone’s trying to be supportive of one another in this really complicated situation that the ISU just keeps making worse.

Jill: Right. I’m going to say this. Could we have the Third place, the bronze medal podium ceremony at Milan Cortina. What do we know by then?

Alison: I think we’re going to end up with the entire medal ceremony at Milan, that it’s going to take that long.

Oh boy, oh boy.

Paris 2024 News

Jill: Oh, you’re working on your Duolingo.

Alison: Well it makes sense to the second story we’re going to talk about.

Jill: All right. so this is a very interesting article that came from Bloomberg and the organizers have settled on an agreement with grain producers about the amount of time the Seine will be closed for the Olympics because grain producers need to move the grain down the river and get it to other regions.

And we are in harvest time in a way. So during harvest, they move over a million tons of grain. down the Seine and, that equates about 20 to 25 vessels a day just for grain transport on the river. So the organizers wanted the river shut for 10 days leading up to the games so that they could block it off and do Olympic things.

They have now agreed on 6. 5 days because the other reason grain producers like using the Seine is because it is more environmentally friendly than trucking grain everywhere, which they’re going to have to do. So that made this interesting to me because Paris also talks about what a green, uh, green games it’s going to be, but we’re also not talking about how the Olympics being green forces other entities to not be as environmentally friendly.

Alison: The domino effect of hosting. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And this is just getting more and more and more complicated, not just with Paris, but overall. And we had that whole discussion of the Winter Olympics and their environmental impact and the Save Our Winters process. This is definitely, and we keep saying this, and I’m going to keep saying it, someone got this great, brilliant idea.

But let’s have it on the Seine. And it was kind of like transportation in Beijing, where the higher ups thought this is a great idea, but the actual people doing it were not involved in any of the decisions.

Jill: Right. And their lives were made a lot more complicated. by higher ups decisions. so it’ll be interesting.

I would love to figure out if there’s some kind of researcher or professor who studies this specifically and the domino effect it has, because this, you know, that we’re going to have article upon article when this is done saying how green these gains were and how environmentally friendly the Olympics has come to be.

But we also. Those obviously don’t look at the deeper issues and the outlying issues along with how the Olympics affected other industries as well.

Another interesting note, a Philippine boxer, Manny Pacquiao, Uh, wanted to come out of retirement to try to get a gold medal.

he is 45 years old and the boxing tournament has a 40 year old age limit. So he has been denied. Philippines asked for a universality place and said, no, uh, universality is really for people who, that can’t qualify countries that can’t qualify in general. And Philippines does really well in boxing.

So you would qualify enough people regardless.

Alison: From what I’ve been able to gather, this very odd top age rule comes from the idea that once boxers reach a certain level, they are no longer elite once they reach a certain age. So the idea, at one point it was 35, then they raised it to 40. The idea is once a boxer gets over 40, He or she is no longer an elite boxer.

Jill: Interesting. I wonder how they determine that.

Alison: I guess the idea that those older boxers are just clown shows, I, boxing is such a disaster. This is the least of their problems.

Jill: But interesting because, yeah, I just thought the upper age limit was unique and it’s very unique to boxing, but also something to keep in mind.

And on some more fun news, if you’re going to Paris, there is another hospitality house to explore. Poland is going to have a hospitality house this year. Poland is celebrating its hundredth anniversary of competing in the Olympics. Nice. Yeah. First appearance in the Olympic Games in 1924.

They’re going to have Maison Polonaise, and it’s going to be at the Pavilion Royale. We don’t know if there’s going to be tickets or, fees to get in, but, we will put, uh, some more information in our show notes.

Milan-Cortina 2026 News

Jill: with 718 days to go, the construction site for the new bobsled track has opened, reports Il Fatto Quotidiano, and a hat tip to The Sports Examiner I love this quote that, This is how Google Translate translated it. Apparently this is going to be a bare bones track.

It’s going to be a light track. So that will help in construction. I don’t know what that means in terms of how that equates to a facility versus a not bare bones track.

Alison: I think it means it’s not built to last.

Jill: Oh, if that’s the case, that’s just, that’s, you know, flushing money down the toilet, I would think. The article, which we’ll have a link to that in the show notes, it’s pretty scathing. Um, Because if it doesn’t get done in time, not only will Italy not get to host the competitions, they’ve also spent 124 million euros, quote, for a few dozen enthusiasts whose activities were not sufficient to keep the Turin 2006 track active, end quote.

Alison: Which is unfair because one of the reasons the 2006, track didn’t survive was because it wasn’t built to last either. And it was built on the cheap and quick.

Jill: Right, they’re just sinking money into these projects that don’t really pay off. And are they even going, once the track is finished and once the Olympics are over, will they do the hard work of trying to keep people involved with bobsled?

Alison: Why are you even asking the question? The answer is no.

Jill: How about Skeleton and Loose?

Alison: Because the track is being built on the cheap. It’s going to fall apart. And then it’s going to cost more to repair it than it was to build it properly in the first place. Italy. And we’re still going to end up in Austria because it’s not going to get done on time.

I’m sorry, I’m being negative of my people.

Jill: No, that’s okay. I mean, this whole project needs criticism. I mean, it’s just, it’s a bad use of money all around. And will the people in charge face a reckoning for their bad decision? Hmm, probably not.

TKFLASTAN News

Jill: Welcome to Shookflushton.

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 our very own country, Shookflushton. First up, pole vaulter Katie Moon defended her pole vault title at the USATF Indoor Championships.

Alison: She’s off to worlds in Glasgow. Ooh. Bree Walker finished seventh in Manobob at the World Cup race in Altenburg. She is also off to World Championships this weekend in Winterberg.

Jill: Commentator Rob Snook is covering the Swimming World Championships for CBC Sports.

Alison: Andy Spaulding was interviewed by AFP about anti corruption efforts around the Olympics.

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

Jill: A paraequestrian, Sydney Collier, has a book coming out, Beyond Expectations, a true story of growing up with a rare disease, a deadly prognosis, and horses, written with Heather Wallace. It will be published this summer and is currently available for pre order.

We will have a link to our bookshop. org site in the show notes.

Alison: And listener Nick. Sweet, got a gig volunteering with the Team USA for processing. I’m so Do you think he’s gonna get anything? Like leftovers?

Jill: I hope so. I hope so. Let us know, Nick. Yeah, we want all the details of how this was like, because, man, what a gig, because you were making so many people happy with

Alison: All the, the swag that they get.

You know, everyone we’ve talked to about processing, they walk out of there with shopping bags and shopping bags. It’s like that scene from Pretty Woman.

Jill: All right. That is going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you thought about our latest book club selection.

Alison: You can connect with us on Xthreads and Instagram at flamealivepod.

Email us at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 422 4222. 4 8. 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 and amazing Russian quotes about this week’s episode. Sign up at flame alive pod.

com.

Jill: Uh, next week we will be back. We’re going to go back to cycling and talk track cycling with a cyclist, Mandy Marquardt, and a whole bunch of you on the Facebook group had given us questions for Mandy, and we were able to sneak some of those in. Uh, we have so many more questions, but it’s a great interview and we’re so excited to share it with you.

Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.