Book Club Claire leads the Keep the Flame Alive Book Club, which features selections about the Olympics and Paralympics.

Episode 159: Book Club Claire on “A Shot at History”

Release Date: October 22, 2020

Category: Book Club | Podcast | Shooting

Book Club Claire is back for a lively discussion of A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold and Beyond, by Abhinav Bindra, India’s first individual Olympic gold medalist who competed in the sport of air rifle. Does it hit the bulls-eye as a good read, or does it miss the mark?

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Claire: [00:00:00] It is a beautiful thing to have people be gentle to you to believe in you. I needed it because when I went back to India, the stories were all negative. Just another Indian who had buckled, just the same old story you get branded put in a box and that’s it.

Jill: Hello and welcome to another episode of keep the flame alive. The podcast four fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host at Jill. Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown, Alison, how? Hello? How are you today?

Alison: We have to be very quiet. And not move anything, but the tiniest of muscles.

Oh, I’m preparing

Jill: for our second. I thought we were in a library

Alison: which we are very familiar with, but, but no, and I’m wearing a heavy vest and everything. It’s my podcasting

Jill: outfit. for today. At least don’t let that heavy vest weigh you down because you need to, you can’t slump over and do a podcast. You gotta get air into your lungs.

You gotta sit up

Alison: straight. Exactly. Although, I guess so position yourself, just so cuz if you Twitch your toe, the whole show is ruined .

Jill: Yes. We, if you didn’t get what we were talking about, we’re talking about air rifle because we read the book a shot at history, my obsessive journey to Olympic golden beyond by Ana Bindra or by a bin of Bindra with Rohe Brina and book club.

Claire is back to talk with us about this book. Take a listen, Claire, welcome back. It is good to have you back on the show. It’s good to be back. And we are talking about the book, a shot at history, and we’ve learned that we’ve been saying the athlete author’s name wrong. So it is really, it’s a bin of Bindra, a bin of Bindra who co-wrote the book with Rohe bridge Nath, and it is about his journey to become India’s first individual Olympic gold medalist, which he won at Beijing 2008.

So Claire. Let’s let’s talk about the book.

Claire: I don’t have a whole lot of experience with shooting events at the Olympics or shooting in general. Uh, so I was really impressed by his explanations in the book. And I learned a lot about a event at the Olympics that I’ve probably would not tune into, even if it was the only thing on at the Olympics.

I’ll be completely honest, but I do know that Jill, you have some experience with shooting and, uh, I wanted to know what you thought of their explanations, cuz you actually have something on which you can build with your, with your, uh, knowledge.

Jill: Yeah, so this I thought was really interesting and I’m really glad he explained the sport, which even though I’ve shot, I’ve really only shot, uh, 22 rifles for by Athlon.

And I had like one afternoon doing skeet with before I learned that that was a quick slippery slope to addiction. Uh, because if you’ve ever tried trapper ski, oh, it is so much fun. But the air rifle shooting has always fascinated me because they stand so still and look like they hardly move. And when you look at it on the surface, you think, well, why is this a sport?

How are these people athletes? But then you, when you read what, uh, a bin of has to say, it’s so fascinating and so technical and so difficult of a sport that it really makes me wanna watch it. Alison.

Claire: I know that we, Joe was just mentioning about the, the precision and, and how much it is a sport. Um, a lot of it is static motionless movement.

How do you feel like, could you literally stand for all of that time, you know, in one place and still

Alison: feel comfortable? I can’t even sit and record the show without bouncing all over the place. I could never do that, but I did when he was talking so much about his lack of flexibility with his hip to his elbow.

And of course, I immediately had to try that and I’m wondering cuz I could do what he was talking about that he [00:05:00] had trouble doing, but there’s no way I could then hold anything with any kind of strength or control. So the position that they’re in. Is unbelievable that they hold this. And like you’re saying, they’re, they are very static, but it’s the tiny little motions.

It’s a finger, it’s a, a slight tip of the hip. It’s, you know, a turn, you know, these tiny little motions that throw everything off the control that they have to have over all those tiny muscles that you forget are even there is amazing.

Claire: And each gun is programmed to their exact specifications. So he mentioned at one point in competition, his gun had, had been like mishandled in some sort of way.

So when he was shooting, even though he was doing the same thing, he’d always done, it was off. And it was just by mirror millimeters. And it made such a big difference in like in the competition. I can’t even imagine that this is, this is the kind of sport that. I don’t understand very well because I’m so used to going from like point a to point B or throwing something from point a to point B or getting something in a basket.

This is just stand focus. And those, those bottom of my mind. And I wanna know what you thought

Jill: of his

Claire: journey from Sydney actually, I think was his first games all the way through London at one point in his Olympic and also international career. Do you think he really started to step up in terms of how well he did in competitions?

Jill: For me, Sydney was a big turning point for him because even though it was his first games, he had been kind of like a prodigy in the sport. I don’t wanna say he got a little schooled, but he learned a lot from that games and learned what he needed to do to take it to the next level and become greater.

And so that was really interesting to me. And I found

Alison: it fascinating after the disappointment in Athens, his ability to come back and refocus and not do it out of anger and not do it out of almost spite towards what had happened in, in those games that he was favored and he didn’t win. And, and there was actually a technical problem, uh, where there was a bounce on the floor and you think, oh, a bounce on the floor.

But when you’re talking about millimeters, that makes a huge difference. And that he didn’t seem to dwell on. That was remarkable to me that he, you know, some athletes when they have a huge disappointment, use it to feed them, but he had to put it behind him and then move forward. So I thought that was a huge turning point just in his ability to not be the prodigy that needed to be schooled, but to really focus on his goal.

Jill: Right. BEC well, because the anger didn’t really work for him in a sense. And he learned that he, you, you see how he’s got kind of a temper in a sense growing up, but you’re right. That, that was a, like a level of, he reached a level of maturity and learned how to make something work for him. Yeah. I know. I, I

Claire: thought that his coaches really assisted with the training that they, he gave him.

And I was kind of surprised at

Jill: how few.

Claire: Native Indian coaches. He had, he was going all over the world to have coaches to work with him. Do you think that that is a result of the system that he had to work with in his native country? Or do you think that was him kind of reaching for the

Jill: best? I absolutely

Alison: thought it was the system.

And I think what was so interesting was because India did not have a training center for him, you know, didn’t have a Colorado Springs or lake plat the way the United States does actually made him better because he created his own team, his own, very specific group of people that worked for him. I liked that part of it.

And I, and I would love to ask him that question, you know, would you have preferred to just be able to stay, you know, be an American athlete, stay in Colorado Springs, train in one place. or was it better for you to cobble together your own village? Because that’s what he ended up doing, you know, going to Germany, going to Colorado Springs, going to, uh, at one point he was in South Africa.

Am I remembering that right? Mm-hmm and working with an Australian and all these people coming together. And what I thought was the most interesting thing about that is they, his team didn’t work with each other. Like he worked with [00:10:00] each of his people separately and he was the connecting factor.

Claire: I, I liked that he was working with people that really could to fine tune him instead of saying, okay, this is how we do it.

They worked with him and they said, okay, this is how we think you can advance. Well, Hines and Gabi were the, were the, probably the most important people in Gabi, especially was the one that, uh, Bindra specifically mentions over the course of the book, which means. She had the technical prowess and really kind of pushed his buttons a little bit.

I liked how, how much Gabi was in the book, because it shows how much of an influence, uh, that she was on Bender’s career. And I have to say the, the let down after Beijing was probably the most interesting thing to read, because a lot of times, if you’re reading about a gold medal athlete, they might stop their book or their in, or their talk, uh, after they win the gold.

But Bindra, especially in this addition that we have, which is later a later addition than his first one, which I think the first one came out in 2011. This is, uh, a little ways after that. It does show, he does have kind of a downfall after Beijing. I want you to think personally and anybody listening. I want you to think personally, too, when you hit that high, how

Jill: low did you get afterwards?

Claire: Uh, how can you relate to, to Bindra and how he was dealing with the joy of winning or, uh, should I say, as that documentary gave us, how did you deal with the price

Jill: of gold? Yeah, it’s difficult. Uh, I mean, you, you do have that low after you achieve, and if you don’t think beyond like, what’s next, there is a sense of loss and a sense of, well, what do I do now?

And especially with, uh, I mean, he went from being nobody in the country really to being just one of the most famous people. In India and having so much attention and so many opportunities you could say with, you know, you know, he could have been in a Bollywood film. He could have been in, in all these other done, all these other things.

And, and some of the opportunities he did do, like he did go for a ride and a fighter jet, and which I thought was really cool. And, and it’s just really interesting, like once that all dies down and goes away, like what’s left and what do you do now? And that’s, that’s an interesting puzzle to read him going through and trying to figure out.

Alison: And the idea of, do you stay in your sport or you do you retire? Mm, yeah. You know, there, there’s so many sports where there isn’t a natural next step, you know, even with figure skating. Okay. Then you go on the professional circuit or, or so there’s a professional. Place to go in some sports. And then in other sports, it’s just, you know, by the time you’re 25, you can’t physically manage it any longer.

So you, or you wanna have children or you wanna do something, but this is the kind of sport where it’s, it’s definitely how much you wanna commit to it. You know, you could probably have a 35 year old competing in this sport if they’ve done all the training. I mean, because again, it’s those small muscles, it’s not your de Catholics who are trying to, you know, it’s, it’s a different kind of, of energy and sport to it.

So yes, I’m glad he included that. The one thing I wanted to say about Gabby is I, I wonder if his. Devotion to Gabby is not the right word, but his, his reception of her coaching was because of his relationship with his mother. And I’ll get all Freudian. There were a lot of strong women in this, you know, he has a very strong sister yet, a very strong mother.

He has this very strong female coach and he doesn’t talk about that at all as a theme. And yet I saw it.

Jill: That was

Claire: cool to see. I must say, when you come across stories about men, it’s rare that you get women that are not just like, this was the woman in my life who changed everything and she’s a woman.

Did I tell you that she’s a woman and it wasn’t, it wasn’t out in the open like that. It was just so it was just mentioned normally. And I appreciated that because it meant that he had no issue with her being a woman and also being his coach, that he just appreciated her for who he, who she was and how she helped him out.

I agree. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Alison: yet that it wasn’t part of the story that he had a female coach. It didn’t matter. He had, these are [00:15:00] his coaches, these are his people. And again, when we were talking about the system, I wonder if, because he was kind of pulling all these individuals that he was able to do that and never thought of it that way, because it wasn’t strange.

He was just pulling these people to make him better.

Jill: And

Claire: she was not only coaching him. It mentioned several times in several Olympics that she had to go and coach other shooters. So she was a high profile coach, no matter where she went, I think it was the Italians that she also coached. So she had to kind of help out with them as well.

It’s cool that to hear about someone I’m, I’m not familiar with at all, but to hear how much, how important she is to the sport of shooting.

Alison: It’s really cool. And just, you were asking earlier about the dynamics of shooting when they were talking about the coach and the setup and all the things ahead of time and is everything in its place.

Never would’ve thought of any of that. You line up, you shoot. When we read these stories about sports, we don’t know. It’s so interesting how intricate everything is.

Jill: Yeah. And I love that. I mean, the subtitle of the book is my obsessive journey to Olympic gold and beyond, and he is completely obsessed. And I personally loved that because I love knowing the details and how he thought about all of the little tiny details down to let me get the ammunition that they’re gonna have at Beijing.

And I’m gonna save that ammunition for that ti down to recreating what the range was going to look like, cuz he had been there. So he recreated it at home and it’s just. You on, on one level it’s insanely level of detail. He put into it on another level. I really admire how devoted he is to, to achieving perfection or achieving being the best and thinking about every little thing that needs to go into that.

And I’ve really got that from that book and this book, and, and I think that pretty much every Olympian does do that, but he was able to articulate it in a way that really came across

Alison: what I lo I loved the voice that both he and the co-author brought to the, the book itself. And as I was reading and I’m thinking I would like to be friends with him now that he’s retired, but I would not have wanted to be friends with him then because of that obsessiveness, I think he sounded like an, just a very.

good egg as my , as my mom would say, he’s a good egg. Just like if, if you were friends with him, he would be an excellent friend. But if you knew him in his competitive days, especially around Beijing, it would’ve been very tough to be in

Jill: that bubble unless you spoke the same language. I mean, also the same, I think even if you

Alison: were, because I do consider myself slightly obsessive and I, and I can get to where he was going.

And I think two people who are like that could probably make each other insane. that said, I wanna find him a wife. I feel like he and his mother, his mother, and I need to get together. and what we’re gonna, we’re gonna see what we can do for

Jill: him. He can be a single guy. It’s okay.

Claire: I have to decide with Jill on this one.

if we’re not gonna force men on with female athletes, let’s not do it the opposite way around, but you did bring up a good point with the, the whole writing style. I, I did wanna get to that because I that’s the one thing that I would constantly dog ear my copy was when I found a really good

Jill: passage that was written.

And I don’t know

Claire: if it was him that put this down or if it was his ghost writer, I gotta give

Jill: credit to, to Rohe BNA.

Claire: If it was him that. these

Jill: passages, then he is fantastic as a writer. And

Claire: like this one, I just managed to find it’s on page one 18. If you have the paperback edition

Jill: that that I

Claire: have, but it says it is a beautiful thing to have people be gentle to you to believe in you.

I needed it because when I went back to India, the stories were all negative. Just another Indian who had buckled, just the same old story. You get branded put in a box and that’s it. I was burning inside with anger, with disbelief, with the ignorance of some of the views, but I had to shut up. You lose, you keep quiet, you swallow your excuses.

It’s the rule. Winning is the only license to talk in sport. And that paragraph, there were some times, and I, I know that I’m getting better at this because there were those points where I went. That was a good passage. that was a good paragraph. I really like that. Were, were there any things that stuck out for you?

It didn’t have to be like a specific like sentence or something, but like an account or a [00:20:00] recollection. You took notice when you were reading it.

Jill: I don’t have a particular account, but I agree with you that the partnering with Rohe Brina was really good. Rohe seems to be, uh, just a top class sports writer in India.

And I I’m guessing they sat down and, and had many, many hours of interviews and then Rohe put this all together, but just the masterful way he brought the information out. And maybe these are a, a bit of real words that he said, and, and Rohe was able to get that out of him. But it, it was just really, really good writing in a way that doesn’t always happen with ghost written athlete autobiographies.

So I, I really appreciated it all the way through the book.

Alison: And I felt like Benra was very self-aware. He knew the quirks and his failings and his flaws. And he was willing to acknowledge and talk about them. Absolutely. There was, there was no glossing over. Yeah, this was, I was not too cool in this situation or I was a brat over here or, you know, I threw a temper tantrum and that he was very willing to show the warts, made it a more interesting read because he didn’t gloss over that.

He didn’t say yes, I won my medal. And I think that’s, you were talking about earlier Claire, where he was talking about the winning the gold medal. Wasn’t the end of the story. It wasn’t this whole, you know, Rocky redemption at the end and everybody celebrates it was okay, we’ve got this. And now I wanna talk about some other things.

Here’s the bad stuff that happened after. Here’s my issues. the Indian sports system. Here’s what I wanna see change. Here’s what I’m doing. So that was helpful in that I think the two authors sat down together and really understood the story they wanted to tell, you know, both Benra being open and then his partner being able to take that with, with such skill.

Jill: And I also appreciated how he was very Frank on, I had the money to do this, right. And that’s not always the case in India where you he’s like I had the money to go over to Germany and get these top out coast and go to other countries and train, and that doesn’t happen. And it’s now interesting that he’s working very hard to have sports centers and, and do that kind of work to bring up people within the sport and within just sports in general in the country.

I had

Alison: no, I mean, other than when we talked to Sheva Kevan about Lu, which was not. I don’t wanna say a popular sport in India, but there was no basis for it. You know, there was no history of it when, when through his competition years, but a sport like shooting, you would think India would be racking up medals in it and they’re not.

And why is that? You certainly have the population. You certainly have sports culture there in the sense of there’s a lot of kids who play sports, but there isn’t that elite sports culture there where they can support their athletes. And I think what, what you were talking about, Jill, that it’s all privately funded, that there isn’t the superstructure to, and the infrastructure to hold these athletes up.

And that’s sad cuz you’re wasting so much incredible talent.

Claire: There are countries that do have government funded programs that churn out good athletes. There are some that have government funded programs that don’t, they don’t use their resources wisely. And then there’s places like America, which don’t have government funded that does well.

And other countries that don’t have government funded that leave so much on the table. And I think we’re kind of seeing a result of that in India, where I believe they do have some government funded things, but it’s for high profile sports things that they’re good at cricket was mentioned a few times in here.

I’m sure Cricket’s maybe one of them football field hockey, I think is another sport. A lot of team sports likely. It’s unfortunate to see. Pro a program that is kind of failing its population where there’s so much potential there. It’s just not reaching out as much as it could.

Jill: I mean,

Alison: you can look at China and India as kind of the two extremes in the sense of China has almost a militaristic view of developing Olympic athletes.

And when we read the second mark, the abuse that those athletes endure, you have to achieve, you have to win. You’re taken away from your families as young children and they, they breed these athletes. And if you’ve gotta win a gold medal [00:25:00] and India kind of has these paternalistic officials who kind of do it the way they’ve always done it and nobody’s really paying attention.

And then the athletes get slammed when they don’t. So it, it, those two stories kind of stick in my, my head as the opposite ends because, you know, you’ve got two very dense countries, you know, lots of population and why have they had such incredibly different trajectories in sports?

Jill: I

Claire: am glad that bin decided to point this out in his book.

He was not afraid to hide behind his gold medal and kind of say, well, thank you to the government, body of India for helping me out, or the sports government, body of India. He pointed out, this is the problems I had. These are why I had to have international

Jill: coaches.

Claire: And this is how we are trying to improve things.

So I give him all the credit in the world for not only talking about his own flaws, but the flaws of, of the system around him as well.

Alison: I, I, I appreciated that a lot. And the passage that you read Claire about when you’ve got the gold medal. Now you’ve got the microphone because nobody can look at him and say, oh, you’re just serving sour grapes, cuz you didn’t win.

He won. And he says, this was still a huge problem for me. Mm-hmm and this would’ve made it so much easier and this is what we can do differently for the next generation of athletes coming up. Yeah.

Jill: Between him and, and

Claire: Sheva. I think there’s a lot of potential for the, the athletes that have come to create a system that isn’t just dwelling on what we’ve always

Alison: done.

So I gotta give them both credit though. They have both faced pushback of course, in, in terms of achieving actual rank within the sports community in India. And that’s so frustrating cuz these are people who clearly love their sports. Clearly love the Olympics, clearly want sports in India to progress.

And the old guard is saying, no, we wanna keep doing it the same way. It’s so frustrating because now Sheva and bitch are my best friends, cuz I’ve read the book and we talked to Sheva once. So I want this all to happen for them. But you know, and I say this so much on the, on the podcast, anything that gets in the way of the athletes doing what they want to do gets me so angry and bureaucracy clearly in India.

And I’m sure in many other countries gets in the way of the athletes achieving what they wanna achieve.

Jill: Right. When we’ve talked about Tokyo, cutting the number of officials that get to go to the games, I kind of think of India and oh, how many people are they going to have to cut? Who aren’t going to be directly participating in the games, but uh, have a position in which maybe they do something.

Maybe they don’t, but they get to go to the games and that’s expected of the position, which is why they bother with it.

Alison: And then the poor guy doesn’t get to have his own coach. Right because that’s a slot that’s filled by the assistant director to the sub director, to the associate president of whatever.

Claire: I want that on a t-shirt associate president of whatever. Honestly, it, this goes all over the place where the pandemic and everything that has come from it has really caused people to look at themselves and look at at what they do, whether it’s in sport or something else and realize how much do we have that we don’t need.

And they’ve been able to shed some, some dead weight almost because they realize that they, they don’t need it. And they’ll save a couple bucks to rent. So well, when, and I say, when, even though I still hear announcers saying, if the games take place next year, I’m like, when, when I go, it’s gonna be interesting to see where the cuts are.

And if I’m gonna even notice, and if a, if athletes are gonna even notice, maybe they’re gonna be the ones that notice it more than, than the fans do. But those kinds of things, you find where, where your strengths are. And I think some people realize this person is important and I need them. So I, I think that current athletes who, or the athletes who are coming down from their careers, those are the ones who are gonna be really shaping the future of sport in, in countries, everywhere, especially in, in the Asian

Alison: countries.

You know what person we really need the floor checker. Oh,

Claire: oh, he just checked him floor. Oh my goodness. That may be so mad. You are dealing with Olympics.

Jill: You cannot have that. Right?

Alison: So it he’s at Athens and he he’s, he shoots just ridiculously poorly. He doesn’t understand what happened. Did he choked? And then [00:30:00] the other person in a different competition?

I don’t know if it was a different, if it was the women’s competition also shoots very poorly from that spot. And they found that there was like the centimeter bounce in the floor and it threw everything off. And it was, this reminded me. And I think he mentioned it at Sydney, where in the women’s gymnastics competition, the horse for the vault was not set properly.

And girls were just flying off the horse all over the place. And there was injuries and disasters of scoring and it’s stuff like that. That makes you crazy. Because when I had my kitchen redone, there’s a little spot on my floor that has a bounce. So I have a little thing that goes underneath the table.

So the table doesn’t wobble. You can’t do that at the Olympics. You can’t have a little thing under there that makes it not wobble.

Claire: Doesn’t it just not surprise you though, that it happened in Athens. It’s like of, of all of all of the, the locations. Of course it was gonna be Athens. The one that nobody said was gonna be ready.

So it doesn’t doesn’t surprise

Alison: me too much. And yet there was that similar incident in Sydney considered one of the best games of all time. That’s true. And Rio, we didn’t hear too much about facilities other than the water, other than the green water, the algae water, the algae water. But most people, the facilities there, they were not affecting competition, you know, any issues with, with facilities.

So that there’s an issue with the facility that affects the competition. I don’t know. How ABA enough, didn’t just lose his mind over that. Like that would still be bothering me in 2020, even if I had won a gold medal later, like that I’d be like that floor.

Jill: Yeah. And it’s what you can control versus what you can’t control.

And it’s amazing how much he worked to be in control of every little detail. And would he have thought during, you know, was it being in control of every little detail that didn’t give him the skills to figure to adapt to when he wa to something that he wasn’t in control of? Because would you have thought, like, I, I don’t know.

I, because really you have so much time to shoot your rounds and are you just going to stand there and shoot because it, every, every time you step down. and don’t have your rifle in place. That’s gonna mess you up as well. So I think everybody tries to stay in position and shoot their entire round as well as they can.

But would you notice that, or would you be attuned to what is different about this environment and kind of troubleshoot things?

Claire: The, the best thing you can do is what you were saying, figure out all of the, the troubleshooting you’re gonna have to do and planning for the things that you wouldn’t normally plan for.

So when the vault is too low, you can somehow overcome it in some way to get yourself a medal of some sort, cuz there’s gonna be rainstorm and who knows earthquakes that are gonna affect competition, who knows, but you have to be the, the best athletes are gonna be the ones that overcome it. Not the ones that complain.

Although, I think a few athletes have gotten gold medals from complaining about something, but we, we don’t think of those athletes as better as the other ones, you know, overcoming adversity is, is the way just to figure it

Jill: out. Last thoughts

Claire: on the book before we wrap up

Jill: a shot at history,

Alison: I’m still looking, I’m still gonna find him a wife.

You can’t convince me otherwise. cause I want there to be all little binges running around with their tiny little guns.

Jill: okay. Well, I, I will maintain my position. he can be single if he would like to be single, but I loved this book. I’m so glad you found it. I loved reading about the perspective that he had just from being from a different country and also every once in a while, he’d mention what.

He and other Indians thought of team USA and it was just, you know, shiny and sleek and all this stuff. And it, it’s really interesting to hear somebody else talk about your country and learn their perspective and, and get that. Just a global worldview, but it was really well written. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

It just agreed fascinating. And I

Claire: have to say, if you get it, get a physical copy because the first few pages are diagrams and it points out every single little detail. First of all, it shows the profile of the shooter. So it’ll have it has his equipment, the weird, [00:35:00] uh, I don’t even know uniform or kit or whatever he wears it’s so it’s a heavy piece that just keeps him kind of weighted down.

I thought that was FAS. It made so much sense. Once you think about it and then a diagram

Jill: of the gun and a lot of that stuff, like I mentioned before, I don’t have a

Claire: history of, of shooting or shooting athletics. So this. I gotta say very impressive book. I must it’s ranked

Alison: up there with the ones I went through this book very, very quickly, because it was just, it was a well written book, nevermind the subject matter, but just the quality of the writing was great.

So a lot of these ghost written athlete, biographies or autobiographies are just really unpleasant to read as reading, but this was an exception. So agreed. Even if you’re not interested in shooting, it’s just an interesting athlete story

Claire: and you get highlights from five different Olympics. If you’re getting one of the current additions, you get Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio, all in, in one.

So it’s interesting to, to see those different perspectives. So thank you for reading this and if you read it with us on the podcast, thank

Jill: you for picking up the. excellent. And next, our next book is

Claire: our next book takes us back to the winter and it is called world class, the making of the us women’s cross country ski team.

And it’s by Peggy shin. And I’m excited for this because I don’t know if it’s gonna get mentioned in there, but the here comes Diggins scream is one of my favorite audio moments in all Olympics

Jill: history. I can watch that call. It’s been over two years and I still cry every time. It’s just so moving to me.

I wonder if, and I kind of wonder if that’s what the miracle or, you know, do you believe in miracles is like for another generation of people I’m

Claire: sure. Because my dad, yeah. My dad talks about that all the time that, that broadcast. So I’m sure it is the same. So the same thing for us as the here comes Dickins is for us.

So yeah, I’m excited.

Alison: I would say I love both of those calls cuz I remember them both.

Claire: I’m a little jealous

Alison: and I will say they both still give me chills, but that here comes Dickins is so much fun because it’s such.

Claire: Especially because you don’t have to wait another 20 minute period like you did in hockey to see if the us would actually pull it off.

This was last second, right. She’s actually going to overcome and she does. It’s insane. So we get to read all about it in this book, not just about Diggins and ki and Randall, but about the whole formation of the cross country ski team. I I’m interested to see how that history plays out. And I hope that you will all read it

Jill: with us.

I’m excited because Peggy shin also writes a lot of articles that get posted on team And I find her to be a very good writer. So I am really looking forward to reading this book too. Well, thank you so much, Claire. We really appreciate it as always. Thank you so much, Claire. It was great to read a book that had a non-US perspective.

So if you know of other non-US Olympic books, please let us know about them. Email us at flame, a live pod, We are looking forward to our next book, world class, the making of the us women’s cross country ski team by Peggy shin, which we’ll talk about in January

Alison: when we’re feeling all snowy that’s right

Jill: here comes Diggins.

Here comes Diggins. Yes, indeed. With the big Paul by Chad Samoa, which was on NBC here in the states, which is one of those iconic broadcasting moments in Olympic history. We’d like to give a shout out to our Patreon patrons. They support provides some much needed funding for us to be able to have the time to produce this show, especially when we’re looking at two games within six months of each other.

So if you appreciate the show, please consider becoming a patron at alive pod donor rates start as low as $1 a month, which is like a quarter or a show. That’s pretty awesome. That’s a good

Alison: deal. Do you remember when I was a child and, and your ageless? So I don’t know how old you were, where you could call things.

And it would like be a recording of a celebrity. It was like, it wasn’t 1-800-NUMBERS cuz you had to pay. And they were like a quarter each. It was like a quarter for a minute listening to, you know, some famous person leave you a message. Oh. So the point I’m trying to make. This is way cheaper than that.

Get and more for your money full shows for a quarter. not to mention bonus

Jill: stuff too. That’s right. Different levels have bonus material. Hey, why don’t we check in with our team?

Alison: Welcome. Two shook Liston

Jill: swimmer. John Naber is a candidate for one of the two new positions on the us [00:40:00] Olympic and Paralympic board of directors that were created for the us Olympic and Paralympic alumni association. He’s up there with, I think Donna Derona is on that list too. That’s the other name I remember, but I saw John Naber and I thought, oh, I know who’s a good, can.

But here’s

Alison: the thing. If both John Naber and Donna Devona get elected, that Donna Devona is gonna have to stand on all the kickboards when they take the picture together.

Jill: Remember that story,


Claire: was telling us

Alison: he’s so tall and Devona is so

Jill: tiny. Well, we’ll find out voting continues until, uh mid-November.

So we’ll be on a lookout for the election results. Jackie Wong is on the latest episode of the Olympic channel podcast, which explores artistry versus technical elements in figure skating. That should be interesting. I haven’t listened to it yet. I will dip in and out of that podcast just to see what they’re up to.

But when I saw Jackie was on gotta listen, absolutely Chelsea memo will be on the cover of the November, 2020 issue of inside gymnastics magazine. That’s very exciting. So you can find more at, uh, their website. Her ankle is healing nicely, cuz I’ve been watching the videos. I’m kind of hooked on that series now.


Alison: Yeah. And she’s been posting the different pictures of her and her various leotards. She broke out a lot. She’s been breaking out the historical collection. so I’m wondering what she wore on the cover. We’ll have to take a look.

Jill: Yes. If you haven’t watched it, you would love her latest episode cuz it’s she’s doing some rehab stuff and well just training without using her ankle much.

So it’s a lot of upper body and other trampoline type stuff, but her daughter is helping too. And her little daughter is so adorable. So tune into that episode on YouTube,

Alison: through each generation of people flipping around, that is amazing.

Jill: It is amazing. The adults tones of Jason Bryant were featured on D three nation podcast, which talks about college division three wrestl.

That’s always a good time battle of the blades. The CBC show that pairs figure skaters with hockey players is beginning again. So Megan D Hamel is one of the contestants and she is skating for the Sandra Scherler foundation, which raises funds to purchase a life saving equipment for NICU across Canada.

Megan benefited from the foundation when her daughter, Zoe, Zoe was born prematurely and had to spend two weeks in the hospital. So she is doing this to give back

Alison: the videos that she has been posting are fantastic because. She and her partner have been trying more complicated elements. There was a little throwing involved.

There was a little lifting involved and every time he posts the videos, he’s like, don’t drop her. Don’t drop her

Jill: and she’s like, yeah, just toss

Alison: me around. It’s fine. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. It’s fine.

Jill: So be sure to vote for her throughout the show. And we will keep, uh, tabs on how they’re doing.

Uh, staying in Canada. The Olympic park of Montreal is one of three finalists for the project management Institute’s international project of the year, which re rewards excellence around the world. So if you remember from a couple years back when we were up in Montreal and talked with Cedric SEM and got the tour of the park, it’s nice to see that they are doing well.

Alison: Yeah, because that’s one of those parks for how financially disastrous Montreal was for the city. The, uh, legacy of that park is one of the best.

Jill: Yeah, I think they have tried so hard to turn that into something. And it’s nice that they’re aware that they have a stadium. That’s not the best architectural wonder of the world, I guess you could say, because , maybe I’m the answer, but that

Alison: park is used so much, you know, the, the swimming facilities and the, they really figured out how to use that as part

Jill: of the city.

And finally Claire Egan was named to the roster for the us by Athlons pre-World cup on snow camp in Austria, which begins on November 1st. And then based on that camp, us by Athlon will announce the final roster for their IBU world cup races, which start in late November.

Alison: I love how Claire keeps saying she’s gonna retire every year.

and then somehow she just can’t. She

Jill: just can’t stop. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. At least for now. Here’s to hoping she does well at camp and gets chosen for the world cup and has a great season. I’m excited. I know that, you know, pandemic stuff and everybody has to take precautions, but you know, by Athlons coming back that makes you so happy.

Oh, we have some news from Py Chang. This. Didn’t Pyong

Alison: Chang

Jill: already happen. It did already happen, but you know what? The us department of justice has charged six Russian intelligence [00:45:00] officers in an alleged global computer hacking operation to undermine retaliate against or otherwise destabilize a whole bunch of things, including, uh, some global businesses and critical infrastructure things in the Ukraine, things in the country of Georgia, the French elections, and also the 2018 PPY Chang winter Olympics.

And this happened after the Russian athletes were banned from participating under their nation’s flag as a consequence of the Russian government sponsored doping effort. So

Alison: was it their fault that those light dip Olympic rings didn’t work properly? Was that as far as the hackers got with the Pyong Chang destruction, wait, when was that?

I think it was the opening ceremonies where the drones didn’t work.

Jill: It could have been because one of the things, they had two attacks on Pyong Chang. So from December, 2017, through February, 2018, they did a whole bunch of spear fishing campaigns and malicious mobile apps targeting south Korean officials and citizens and Olympic athletes and partners and visitors and IOC officials that’s one.

But then they also tar they had a, a mission called Olympic destroyer where they targeted the PPY Chang it systems specifically to attack the opening ceremonies. Oh. And the opening. So maybe that was related. They, they almost went down. There was a really, really good article in wired, which maybe I, I think listener, Anthony May have posted this in our Facebook group or he sent it to us or something like that because it’s really fantastic.

talks about how right before the opening ceremonies were supposed to begin, there was a malware attack and they almost didn’t happen. It it’s kind of like the, the Sydney 2000, uh, caldron lighting took a while, but this was like, they had to get much everything back. Right. This was much

Alison: more serious.

Mm-hmm okay. The word Olympic and destroyer should not be in the same sentence. No, that

Jill: right there is a problem, right? Unless you’re a B boy or B.

Alison: Yeah, but still then you’d be, you know, Small’s defender,

Jill: the UK’s national cyber security center also exposed malicious cyber activity from Russia’s GRU. That’s, uh, kind of their intelligence outfit against organizations involved in the Tokyo games before they were postponed. So we have a whole bunch of situations going on. The us has, uh, filed charges against a group of people and we’ll, we’ll see what actually happens.

And then, uh, Reuters reported that the Kremlin denies the attacks. Oh,


Alison: really believable. do we have some more happy

Jill: things? Yeah, let’s move on. That just really made me mad. Oh, let’s move on to some Tokyo. 20, 20 news,

more venues are going to reopen. Excellent inside the games reports. Now this weekend, remember the swimming venue reopens. So that’s good. The tennis park is also going to be open. Uh, it will open this weekend also and will be, uh, opened up sports federations only for about a week. And then from November 8th to February 28th, personal use will be granted.

So the public will be able to go and use it. They’ll be able to use the indoor courts and sports Federation can use the center court too, as well for practice. They’re not going to be able to use the outdoor courts and the show court because they wanna maintain proper court conditions for

Alison: that. Well, they don’t wanna get the courts worn out before , before

Jill: we actually have the Olympics.


Alison: And that will get expensive. And we already know money’s an issue. Money’s an issue everywhere right now.

Jill: The Tokyo metropolitan gymnasium, which will host table tennis will be open, but just to sports federations, they’ll be able to use the main arena and the sub arena from December 21st to March 31st, and then there’s athletics track and indoor pool and training rooms that are part of the building, but they’re not going to be reopened to the public because they wanna make sure those elements stay secure for the game.

So after thinking about those hacking attacks, you never know what else could go on. So other venues that have opened for use, uh, include besides the swimming venue, the hockey venue and badminton venue. And then the karate venue has been used again, there was the Kato region, karate tournament, which featured male and female team Kuma and kata categories.

They had 500 athletes there and 60 teams competed. This was just a co closed door tournament. And for their COVID procedures, they required Cuma competitors to wear a special mouth shield and face guard during their bouts to limit. And it was like a big plastic [00:50:00] thing around their face, not a huge face shield, but it was more form fitted to their face.

Maybe they should have

Alison: just worn, like scuba bubbles

though that would’ve made them a little top heavy. So it would’ve been like weeble waffles, but they don’t fall down, but they would’ve fallen. Because people are kicking them.

Jill: And then attendance was really limited to just the team members, their staffs, and they had some limited guests, everybody there had to wear face masks and social distance, both inside and outside the venue.

And then they canceled the opening, closing ceremonies of the tournament to prevent unnecessary crowds, because I guess, uh, the karate’s experiencing its 50th anniversary this year. So it’s a big, uh, let’s move on to some Beijing, 20, 22 news.

Alison: It was

Jill: 500 days to go this week. It was, which frightens me.

Alison: It’s like we have, yes, it, we have the two back to back and it’s whenever you get, and we, I think we’ve said this before, whenever we get any of those milestone days to go, mm-hmm . First there’s oh, it’s this milestone days to go and then sheer panic.

Jill: right, because I really haven’t paid as much attention to Beijing 20, 22. And this week I spent some quality time on their website. I’m like, oh, gotta keep my eye on this too. It’s six months after Tokyo, you’ve gotta pay more attention.

Alison: Feels like we are standing in the middle of a short track speed skating rink.

And we are just gonna get

Jill: barreled. the Beijing 2022 organizing committee is looking for young filmmakers from all over the world to make its official film. They’re choosing 18 winners to join its film crew. And that includes director cinematographers and editors details are at the Beijing 2022 website.

And the deadline to apply is December 21st, 20. That’s really interesting. It’ll be interesting to see how that works and how they, they work together. BEC it will also be interesting to see what they focus on. I mean, after we watched the Sydney 2000 film with, uh, that was a buds green span production, which bud Greenspan did so many Olympic movies, but there was so much mm.

Not so much, but it really felt like there was a, a fair amount of us focus in

Alison: that. Right. So, yeah, it’ll be interesting to see with this, if they’re doing an international team of movie makers, how that affects it, or are they really going to focus who they select from Asia or how it pans out in terms of what the team actually looks like and then what the films turn out to be?


Jill: that’ll be interesting. Uh, the organizing committee is also, this is interesting to me in a. Budgetary sense because they’re integrating the press and broadcasting centers into one main media center. So usually the organizing committee has a main press center. For the press and a broadcasting center for broadcasters and the press center is a little bit smaller.

And the broadcasting center is like 65,000 square meters. And I, I bet that’s where every broadcasting, uh, everyone who holds the rights has their little studios. So what they’re gonna have instead is a main media center. That’s going to be 60 thou 61,000 square meters. So that’s smaller than the broadcast center space usually, or was slated to be.

And the they’re, they’re just gonna have ’em all together. They’re not going to have this separate press center and, uh, that will save them money. And they said, the reason they can do this is because 5g technology will be in the venues and the media can do more interview. In the venues themselves. So they don’t need the extra space in the press centers or the media center.

Alison: I I’m surprised that it hasn’t been merged before, because you would think there would be a lot of overlap in terms of resources that you would need available. Yeah. You would think that why wasn’t it there before, because why would the organized committee need to have a broad, because I’m sure the committee itself has an office in both those centers.

If you need resources, why do you need to duplicate. And all that administration. So this kind of makes me wonder like, oh, why didn’t we ever think of this before?

Jill: Yeah. So it’ll be interesting to see, like, I mean, I wonder if there’s an element of, this is the way it’s always been, right? So this is the way we’re going to do it going forward.

Whereas we have a huge jolt from Tokyo 2020 into, but besides the new norm, which I’m sure there are plenty of people who go yeah, the new norm, that’s really nice, but we don’t need to it’s it’s our games. We don’t need to worry about that, but I’m sure that that’s kind of jolted, [00:55:00] uh, host cities into really rethinking how they’re doing things in a way to, uh, save money.

Well, let’s move on to some Paralympic news

inside the games is reporting that parasailing is trying to return to the Paralympic games for LA 2028. It had been featured at every games between Sydney and Rio. and it was being dropped for Tokyo 2020, and then it tried to get into Paris 20, 24 and got denied. So the international Paralympic committee said that Paris sailing was removed from the Ja uh, the Tokyo gains because they could not fulfill their minimum criteria for worldwide reach and same with the football seven aside.

So you won’t see that at the Paralympic games in Tokyo either, which is why badminton and TaeKwonDo will be making their debuts at the Paralympic games. Isn’t it interesting

Alison: that those two sports that were dropped are certainly way more expensive than the two sports that they’re

Jill: adding in? Yeah, that’s interesting.

Cause and the two sports being added in are, well, they’re both individual sports, right. But, but you’re right. A boat, a boat is very

Alison: expensive and I would think a boat outfitted for a power Olympian would be insanely in expensive.

Jill: I don’t know. We’ll have to look at it. I wonder if that’s that it, I think I wonder if it depends on the disability mm.

And what they need to use to move the sales around and how, how that works. Hmm. Now we got something else to look into world. Sailing has had a para sailing development program, and they’ve increased participation by 30%. Now it’s time to get some discussions going to try to get back on the program for 2028.

Well, sailing

Alison: is naturally socially distance work.

Jill: Yeah. So that that’s a good one.

Alison: stay away from me. I’ll just steer it away unless you’re like a pirate and you’re trying to border somebody

Jill: else’s boat. That would be a fun Olympic sport piracy.

Can you get the loot from another boat? a, and if you do successfully, you make that boat’s captain walk, the plank. And dive into the water , which

Alison: could be really dangerous if it’s in Rio again.

Jill: Right. And then what you would do is because life saving is still a provisional, uh, or I’m sorry. Right. Life saving is recognized by the IOC.

So it could potentially become an Olympic sport again. And so you could have life saving, be part of this, and they would go in and save the person that got, uh, had to walk the plan off their ship. So

Alison: that then you’re using one venue for two sports. There you go.

Jill: Magic. Oh,

And finally we’ve got some us Olympic and Paralympic committee news. The us O P foundation announced results of its special two month fundraising drive for its COVID athlete assistance fund. They’ve announced they’ve raised 1.4, 2 million for more than 6,000 donors. And all of that money is going to be given directly to eligible athletes who are in training and contention to go to Tokyo.

They say it’s, uh, 1,220 athletes and they’ll each get a one time grant of $1,163. Well, I know

Alison: when we were talking to Deanna price, you know, now several months ago she had to buy. A whole set of equipment. Mm-hmm, basically construct her own gym in her garage so she could continue training. So that $1,200 could make a huge difference.

It could, it

Jill: could for athletes who had to do that, especially like it could pay some rent for a, a little while, depending on where you live, that could really go far. If you live in a, a cheap area,

Alison: right. And people who are college athletes who college athletics are not happening, or people whose sideline jobs they were laid off from.

So even though $1,200 doesn’t sound like a lot per athlete. It can make such a huge difference to so many of these people in these smaller sports where they don’t have all these sponsorships or, or hope for sponsorships and just sponsorships, we know right now are hard to come by because there’s no competitions.

Right. So nicely done. O P foundation. Yes. And the donors. I mean, it’s really the donors who did this, not the

Jill: foundation. That’s gonna wrap it up for this episode. Let us know what you thought of our book club book, email

Alison: us at flame alive pod, or call our voicemail hotline at two zero eight.

Flame it where flame alive pod on Twitter and Insta and keep the flame alive podcast group on

Jill: Facebook. Uh, next week we will talk with [01:00:00] Madeline Manning Mims, who is a four-time Olympian. And since 1988 has been a chaplain at the Olympic games. So.

Thank you so


Sometimes you

me back to

Alison: tos me around. It’s fine. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. It’s fine.