We’ve got company over for the holidays! We’re celebrating the end of 2022 with John Cushing and Michael Weadock, the lads from Anything But Footy, an Olympics and Paralympics podcast focused on Team GB and the Games. How was London 2012 in the eyes of Americans? Was Atlanta 1996 the worst Games ever? And what does legacy really mean? All this and more as we cross the pond to chat with our fellow Games podcasters.
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.
Hello fans of Clifton, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello. How are you?
Alison: I feel so unprepared. I didn’t clean the house, I didn’t make cookies and we have guests coming over
Jill: Very true. But you can quick put the kele on and they should be fine, right?
Alison: Absolutely. I do have loose leaf tea. I do have a whole tea ball, so I’m, I won’t embarrass myself with lipin bags.
Michael: If you’ve brought the tea, you must have known you’ve got guests from England. You must have known the guests were English.
For this one, it is the holiday season, and traditionally that is the time for a Christmas special. And in days gone by on television in this country at least, that would mean an extended version of your favorite show set in the sunshine. Think Victor melds one foot in the Algarve and Dell and Rodney and only falls in horses Miami twice.
These are references probably lost on Jill and Alison, I’ve gotta be honest, but I’m Michael.
John: And I’m John. And so what is the, anything but Footy Christmas special?
Well, it’s called Keep the Anything but Footy Flame Alive. And as we link up with our colleagues stateside and their Olympic and Paralympic podcast, which is called Keep the Flame Alive. It’s essentially what we do here in the uk, but with the US twist. Welcome to Jill Jarris and Alison Brown.
Michael: Well, it is brilliant to link up stateside with you both and um, it’s fantastic that we are doing this joint production for Christmas this year. And I guess first of all, we sort of discovered each other online, didn’t we? I mean, you’re doing exactly what we are doing in the us What was the, the reasoning, the thinking behind it?
Jill: Well, this was right around Rio. I’m a freelancer in my day job and I didn’t have anybody to really talk about the Rio Olympics with, and I really missed the water cooler discussion. And Alison and I did not live far away from each other at the time.
And she was driving through town and we had dinner and I said, Hey, do you wanna start a podcast? And she said, yes. And
Alison: having no clue what, I mean, certainly I listened to podcasts, I just said, yes, Jill and I used to work together and we had a great time and we enjoyed working together. And I wasn’t working at the time.
My daughter was very young, so I said, sure, I’ve got time. Why not? It seems like a good idea because when we used to work together was during Salt Lake City and there was a lot of turning around cuz we worked in sort of a pool environment saying, did you see this last night? Did you, so the idea was we would just keep that going in a way that neither one of us had at the time.
John: So that’s where the love comes from of the Olympics from,
Alison: Well, the love for both of us was childhood. Jill was 84. My first one that I remember is 76 80 the winter. most clearly because I was living in downstate New York at the time. So to have the Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, in my state was so mind boggling to think of this world event happening.
Of course, it was like five or six hours away cuz New York is huge, but it still felt very close. .
Michael: So Jill, 84 Los Angeles. Yes. Is that that your Yes. Because I think that’s, that’s ours as well, isn’t it, John? Because I always say, actually my first memory’s Sarah Ovo 84 Tova and Dean, I think, and that was kind of the story I told on our very first podcast.
So was it, was it definitely Los Angeles for you, Jill?
Jill: That’s the one that really clicks in my mind and hooked me on the games. I knew of 76. My best friend loved Dorothy Hamel and had a Dorothy Hamel doll and had the Dorothy Hamel haircut as many young girls in the United States had after 1976. But I was a swimmer at the time.
That was one of my big activities as a kid, and I, I just remember being glued to the swimming and, Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Stein cipher tying for the gold in, I believe it was a hundred meter free. That just clinched it for me. That blew my mind that that could happen. . And, and how about both of you,
John: Well, mine, mine was LA and it would’ve been the athletics that I remember. now it was the four by one relay, because I can remember, remember going out and playing on the street and running around a bend. It’s like I’d never run around a bend before. I mean, this is like an incredible thing.
but of course, 84 was [00:05:00] probably from a British point of view, more cco, Steve Ovett, the 1500 meter Steve Cram coming through. and the whole ruse around a vet and co and, and the like. But that passed me by, I was, I was eight, nine years old, at the time. But that is my main memory. And of course the jet pack, the opening ceremony.
Michael: right. Yeah. And I’m a big fan of opening ceremonies, by the way. . I definitely remember. Tova and Dean 84 cuz we had a lodger at home, in the winter of 83, 84. So my sister and I were sharing a bedroom and I can remember we were given permission to have what was a black and white television in the bedroom to watch Tova and Dean and Valero.
And I don’t think I’d ever watch figure skating or a Winter Olympics before that. So that got me hooked. And then obvious. Because at that point, the summer winter games were in the same year. It was quite a quick turnaround then into Los Angeles. And I, I recall watching Los Angeles getting up in the morning cuz obviously with the time difference and, and we would’ve had BBC Olympic breakfast would’ve been what it was called.
and I can remember getting up every morning and bringing my quilt downstairs and sitting on the sofa and just watching the La Olympics happen. And, and the one name that always comes to my mind is a guy called Malcolm Cooper, who, who’s a shooter no longer with us, who, who won a gold medal in Los Angeles.
And this just blew my mind that there was shooting in the Olympics, there was synchronized swimming and John knows this. I artistic swimming as it now is, I, I’ve been a fan ever since LA 84, , all these bizarre sports. It just opened up this world. It was an absolute dream. to then actually sort of get involved and start seeing some of this stuff.
For real. I think a
John: and Alison, you mentioned about Montreal, Is that why sometimes you talk about Canada quite a lot in your podcast, you like to mention the, the Canadians?
Alison: No, I just like Canadians. ? No, Montreal. I, I’m not Canadian, but honestly, and this is going to sound so stereotypical, every Canadian we have ever met has just been lovely to me.
so I was 76, I was, a little kid gymnast who you know, would go out in the yard and do cartwheel. So it was Nadia Koman who was my hero. Yeah. So why do I mention Canada? I don’t know. I just, they’re just so lovely and I would say the same thing about New Zealand. Every Kiwi we. has been absolutely lovely.
So I, I do have a, an affinity for your former colonies, ,
John: literally nothing to do with us. Can we just point that out, , it’s nothing to do with us not personal. Exactly. Exactly.
Michael: new Zealanders are like the accept the acceptable face of O Oceana though, aren’t they? Because otherwise you’ve just got the Australians and they’re, you know, the Australian GB thing going on.
They’re a bit boastful, aren’t they? They, they don’t win, you know, with any sort of class. The Australians do. They not when they’re taking on
Alison: Great Britain. Well, you know, New Zealand, we spoke, now many years ago to Michael Warren, who’s a sports historian and just New Zealand is so amazing and, and the phrase that he used was always punching above their weight.
The success, the sports success of that country makes absolutely no. , they have this tiny little population, and yet percentage wise, the Silver Ferns are everywhere. Mm-hmm. . So I’m just, I’m always so amazed by them.
John: Jill, we, we leap in about, um, when you started the podcast, so it, it is Rio, so that’s how long it’s been going for.
Jill: we got it off the ground in September, 2017, Okay. Purposely did it in the run up to two Pyeongchang.
John: I always get asked this question, who’s the mo, who’s the most famous person you’ve interviewed?
Jill: Well, famous relative, . we got starstruck when we talked with Laura Wilkinson. Diver. We’ve gotten starstruck when we’ve talked with, Kim Roddy, who has been in what, six Olympics now? Five, six. Those kind of people are starstruck to us, but they aren’t big names. as a kid, swimmer, talking with John Neighbor was a huge deal because I, when I was a kid, I watched black and white films of him doing strokes so we can analyze how to do strokes better.
So I, I don’t, I mean, who have we talked to that’s famous? Uh, I’m thinking of who Star
Alison: struck me was, uh, Charlie White. The Oh, right. Uh, ice Dancing Gold Medalist because I’m a big figure skating fan. Ben Ryan, the rugby. , uh, who now became famous because that book is becoming a movie. So that name will be, coming in.
the joke with me is I either adopt the athletes or I have a crush on the athlete . So I’m either going to like, bring them into my home as my new child. And this has nothing to do with age because like I wanted to adopt Deanna Price, the hammer throw because I was just like, she, I love her, and yet she’s like 15 years younger than, no, [00:10:00] more than 15, but clearly not young enough to be my child.
So yeah, it’s the ones that get us excited are not necessarily the ones that everybody would recognize, or they’re very famous in a niche.
Michael: Have you ever wanted to adopt as a child, one of our podcast guests, John ?
John: Not, not probably top of a list. I might make them a cup of tea . I might, I might, I might make them a cup of tea at some point, but No, I, but I, I agree with you that when you do interviews with people, you get some real gems from people.
And what I love about what we do is we speak to so many different people and quite a lot behind the scenes. We kind of run a spinoff series called Great British Bosses who we interview, team performances, directors, CEOs, and you get so much insight from those people into the world of sport.
However many times, and I, I don’t mean this disrespectfully to any athlete that I’ve interviewed, but you never get that from an athlete cuz they’re so focused on what they’re doing that sometimes you don’t really get, a story from them or, or gems from them. But I do find that, I really enjoy speaking to people who work behind the scenes.
and my, total boy fan, podcast would be Seb Coe. Literally every time I speak to Seb Coe, I just melt. I I, he, he could literally just talk Chelsea Football Club to me on a podcast called Anything but Footy. And I would still be happy. I just let him do it because he’s just Seb Coe
Alison: okay, so I have a question about Zco.
Does he make you call him Lord Co or is he just Seb
Michael: Seb, that’s what I heard. You, you always say, I mean, we, we did a podcast, with Seb Coe relatively recently for the 10th anniversary of London 2012. For, it was for the London Legacy Development Corporation and a podcast they do called My London Legacy.
And he was in Monaco, I think Yep. In his office at World Athletics. And he popped up on the, the screen, the zoom screen, and we were like, oh Lord KO’s lovely to see you. And he basically just sort of, rice smiled and went, I think us, I think we know each other well enough by now that that Seb will do.
Um, and, and he, he’s like, that is, He was at, uh, I was at the Commonwealth Games covering that for, for radio, this summer. I know probably not an event that your listeners state side will, will be overly familiar with the Commonwealth Games
John: Canada. Don’t
Alison: even start with that. Canada , we had whole discussions about the Commonwealth Games.
A lot of our, our listeners and on the Facebook group, it was hot. It was hot.
Michael: So he came, um, and I was at the stadium and we were just sat in the, the press seats and he just came and, and spent a couple of hours just, you know, chatting to the various writers and, and journalists and people that he knew and he just came and sat down and just, you know, wanted to chat about the athletics.
I think first and foremost, he’s, he’s just a, a track. And, he just wanted to talk to like-minded people about what was happening on the track. I think so. No, he never, he never insists on Lord Co. but I would suggest that he’s probably the, the reason we do Anything But Footy. And for, again, for, people in the United States listening, they’re probably thinking, why are we called Anything But Footy?
Uh, our footy, of course, we, we are talking about soccer. and when we started in our podcast in 2019, we looked and just thought it’s saturated with, you know, English Premier League soccer podcasts or n NFL to do nfl, nfl or nfl. It’s just soccer just dominates the landscape in this country so, so much.
And we were like, There has to be an outlet for all these other guys, Olympians and Paralympians, that has to be an outlet that that champions those guys. So, that’s why we kind of tongue in cheek, um, started it as Anything But Footy, but the name is stuck and the athletes love it. And when we’re at events and we’ve got these, Anything But Footy blue microphones, they all want their pictures with it, don’t they?
And, and we’re talking like, Gold medalists here. We were an event for celebrating 25 years of, of national lottery funding, which is what funds obviously the elite sport system in the uk. And we had all these like gold me, multiple gold medalists there and they just wanted their picture with that microphone.
It was , it was bizarre. It was really good. and then it was obviously a bit weird cuz Team GB put a soccer team, a football team, a women’s team into the Olympics. So I had to go to the team announcement and have the press team go, this is Michael from Anything But Footy now speak to this football player.
Alison: Have you had those moments where people have fanned over you and. Still confused by it.
John: I can, I can safely say no. . No, I don’t
Michael: think so.[00:15:00]
I think the athletes like the brand. they like the platform. and to go right back to the beginning, obviously you guys said you worked together. John and I used to be rivals, rival radio stations, rival networks. But we have been doing this quite a long time, sort of in the run up to, to 2012.
So, you know, to go all, TV reality show these athletes, a lot of them have been on that, that journey with us a little bit I think. And I think we do. that sense now with some of the big names that they, you know, they do know us. They have seen us at lots of things. Someone like Tom Daley, for example, has seen me at the British Diving Championships, you know, where two men and his dog go.
And that then helps when you’re on that Olympic stage when you’re winning a gold medal. Mm-hmm. , it
John: does make you proud when people, you know, famous people are listening. we do have some amazing athletes who listen to our podcast and that does make you feel quite proud that you do know that they, they listen and they are Olympic champions and they’re, they’re sitting there at home with their medals around their neck listening to our podcast.
Now they don’t do that, but, you know, you know,
Michael: full Kit
Jill: that’s exactly how we picture them too.
John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. The big question, Jill, I really wanna know, and Alison, is from a worldwide perspective, because we’ve spent the last 10 years and we’ve made a podcast series this year. looking back 10 years of, of London 2012, what do people around the world think of London 2012?
Alison: You see, that’s hard because London 2012 is very special to me because that was really the first one I shared with my daughter. She would’ve been nine at the time. So that’s the first one that we sat down and watched together. And she was a big fan of Missy Franklin, cuz Missy Franklin was only, I think 17 and wonderful.
And she had really big feet. And Missy talked about her big feet, and Sarah was at that age where your feet grow first. And like so many kids do, they admire somebody who has succeeded because of the fault that they see. So Sarah felt bad about her really big feet, and here’s Missy Franklin saying, my big feet make me a better swimmer.
So London is very special to me. I think London actually is seen as quite successful, especially the Paralympics of London. That was, I know that was a big turning point in the uk. I think that was a big turning point worldwide. Mm for the summer Paralympics because it got a lot of coverage here. I think that was the first time many, many Americans even saw Paralympic competition.
Jill: And for Summer Olympics, I mean, you’re coming off of Beijing, which was very, Foreign in a way. I mean, it was a coming out for Beijing as a city in China as a nation, kind of in the global spectrum, uh, you’re off of. And before that was Athens, which was nice to have the games back in. Its ancestral homeland, but not a very good games economically.
Mm-hmm. . And we all knew that. But London was just like, especially for people that we know and, and some of our listeners who have gone, it’s just like the games are back on, English speaking soil and London. We can figure it out. We’re going. And that’s kind of what I feel like happened with a lot of people.
They liked London just because it felt familiar in a way. And then London, and as I have done research on London here and there over the years, just. The amount of effort they put into making these games fabulous. it was packed. People were excited, volunteers were everywhere. They did some really innovative things.
there’s always gonna be a fight over whether or not the revitalization efforts are successful, but I think from what we understand, that these games transformed an area of the city that really needed some help.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, The phrase that is used is that an entire new neighborhood was created at, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
And it’s quite apt, I think this year that it was called Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to be honest. And you know, the venues are there, you know, they’re still in use. And the aquatic center, you can go down there on a. Tuesday morning and they’ve got inflatables in there and it’s like your local swimming pool.
And, and John and I have been in there and, and interviewed families that use it as their local facility, cuz they live in East London. The, the copper box, which is where the handball was in 2012, is a multi-use venue. Now you’ve got a, a netball team, the London Pulse netball team. You’ve got a basketball team, that operate out of there.
We’ve just had Rugby League World Cup matches there as well. The main stadium is the home of West Ham United, football club in the English Premier League. And it’s used for [00:20:00] concerts. It’s got major League baseball coming there. obviously still there’s that athletics legacy, around that stadium as well.
The Velodrome is very much in use and, and obviously was the Commonwealth Games venue as well. But as well as that, , all that other infrastructure has created this environment where you’ve got, universities moving in. You’ve got, museums coming there. So Victorian Albert Museum, building a a second sort of base now in, in East London.
And it has, it’s completely transformed. East London was, was not a place you would ordinarily choose to have gone to. Mm-hmm. from 2000 and before 2005. And that bid was one. The, the famous thing that John and I talk about is this the pile of rotting fridges. That that’s the, the Secco store, isn’t it, John?
John: Yeah. Yeah. He would always say there was a pile of, of rotting fridges and canals and, and rivers around there that were just, that needed, the whole soil needed. transforming. And it is an amazing place. And I think what I’m really interested in is that Paris don’t seem to be doing it the same way.
So Paris is obviously what coming up next year, effectively, year after next. what about la Are they looking at a park or are, is it gonna be more heritage buildings that are already there? What could you tell us about LA Because I’m quite excited about it.
Alison: Yeah, so what we know so far about LA is the existing venues, they’re really pushing to very much use as much existing infrastructure.
the LA Coliseum being the cornerstone for the game so that we’re not spending millions and literally billions of dollars on building white elephants. Mm-hmm. .
Jill: I would agree with that. That’s really the push to show that you can have a cost effective games. And I feel like throughout history LA has been the city that.
Shows the world how to do it, whether or not the rest of the world appreciates that or likes how Americans do it, LA saved the movement. I mean, maybe that’s going to stretch too far, but LA was very instrumental to the movement in 1984 because nobody wanted to bid anymore. So they had a games that was very successful and raised money.
Now we’re gonna have a games where they’re really not gonna spend a whole lot of money on infrastructure, and I think, again, it’s going to be profitable in a way. And they’re already working on legacy efforts in terms of investing money into youth sports in the area now. LA 84 has, a legacy organization called LA 84, and some of that is preserving some history and they have a lot of documentation that’s helpful for research, but they also have a youth sports element to it and really have invested a lot of money into youth sports in the area.
Michael: It’s interesting, isn’t it?
I think in the future of hosting games. Now with that, that cost in mind and the size of the games that, you know, London’s done it three times. Paris will be a third time host, then LA will be a third time host. We, we are gonna get a more limited pool of, of cities that can step up certainly with the summer games.
I mean, I dunno about you, but we’ve got huge question marks over what the future is for the winter games and how, how they’re hosted. But obviously people are talking about going back to Salt Lake City cuz to build a, a winter sports park to host the Olympics now just seems to be, you know, you might as well just go and, and burn a load of dollar bills and pound notes.
Millions of them, billions of them in the street.
Alison: I know when we were in Beijing and we went up to the mountains and just saw these resorts plopped down in the middle of nowhere and it would be miles and miles and miles from anything. It was very disconcerting. And the fake snow and the, everything just felt so dropped from outer space.
and so not integrated in the surrounding areas. And of course, lake Placid was much, much smaller, but we visited Lake Placid almost at the, the start of the podcast, you know, five years ago and how that entire town was the winter games and how it’s all still used and then you’ve got climate change built into that.
So yeah, the winter games is always the, not quite the ugly stepsister, but it, it definitely is the smaller of the two events and fewer countries could host and are interested. And what does that mean going forward?
Michael: Of course, I should mention when London bid for 2012, didn’t it beat New York? Wasn’t New York one of the bidding cities for lunch?
It was, sorry, .
Alison: It It’s okay. .
Michael: Have you forgiven
Alison: us? I have forgiven you because honestly, I, I, I [00:25:00] had participated in a couple of the, New York 2012 events, you know, the, to getting excitement and New Yorkers for exactly as you wanted to be. So they would come up to us as volunteers and say things like, well, where am I gonna park with all these people here?
And how do you expect all these foreigners to come here? I’m like, I am so glad New York didn’t get it. And I adore my closest big city. But man, we could not have done it as well as London. No doubt.
Michael: And I just wanna ask a question, obviously, and I know it’s obviously pre your podcast, but Atlanta in 96, the, the centennial games in this country is viewed appallingly now.
I know. Yeah. That’s cause we were big issues. Um, you know, we know it’s cuz we were rough. We were, it was, and it was our worst ever
John: Olympics. Ultimately
Michael: it was one gold medal for Great Britain and it changed sport in this country because after that they went, we can never be this bad on an Olympic stage again.
And, and that’s when all the, the funding and everything else came in, but, Uh, I’m just interested in, uh, and you know, this touches on, on our experiences in Rio as well, is the problem. Just a little bit. The narrative that is fed to the public is if a journalist’s coach doesn’t turn up at the right time of a morning and he’s 20 minutes late for the rowing or the sandwiches are not quite up to standard in the media center, that, that, that clouds the view.
And I felt that in Rio a lot. I felt with the spectrum of wealth in Rio, from abject poverty to very wealthy people, I felt a little bit ashamed to think I’m moaning about a free bus service or the fact that there’s not much coffee on today. And I think that’s for, in this country. I think that’s one of the reasons why people view Atlanta so poorly because some of those logistical things didn’t work.
I mean, it, do you look back on it in, in the US with, with pride.
Alison: Yes. In, in, in a short answer, I would say yes.
Jill: And, and I would say Atlanta is complicated because there were a lot of elements of those games that were spectacular, especially, well, especially for the US I mean Michael Johnson. Yeah. Yeah.
Unbelievable performance. I love watching those games. yeah, we have the Magnificent seven for gymnastics. That’s a huge story, although on US television, you also had the embarrassment of, the commentators were awful for gymnastics then. And, and that was, that’s a good juxtaposition of how it was. But you also had a games that was very commercialized.
Yes, they had problems with transportation and getting people places, and that gets to be an issue. I do, I do think media tends to blow things, some things out of proportion sometimes because they get a story and they have to run with it, and they have a deadline and they need to get eyeballs or headlines or clicks or whatever you need now to get people to pay attention to them so that they, their livelihood can keep going.
I, I do think those games were, good for the city. It was such a small city at the time, but we’ve done, on our show, w we have a little history segment and every year we devoted to a different Olympics. And last year in, 2021, it was Atlanta because that was the 25th anniversary and there was a lot of change that was good for the city when, when you’re talking about.
Things having the Olympics is an event that has a deadline. So cities get stuff done and you know, you were talking about revitalizing the east end. There was a lot of revitalization in Atlanta that happened, in terms of like sidewalks being built and trees being planted. And I was in Atlanta, in November, 2022 just for a, a day and I went to the Atlanta History Center and my Lyft driver and I were talking a little bit and he said, yeah, when it was 25 years ago, all these trees that you see now had just been built.
So now the city is a lot leafier and a lot greener because of the Olympics. Mm-hmm. . At the same time, they also tore down some projects and that’s where I was staying in this area that had been torn where public housing had been torn down. How the displacement of those people and, and how that changed their lives in whether it was a positive change or a negative change, I’m not really sure.
But that part of the city is also safe to walk around it and things like that. And there’s life there and activity there in a, in a different way than probably was in pre 1996.
Alison: And of course we can’t forget the bombing, you know, that changed how people view events like the Olympics. And the events of Munich 72 had become forgotten and so far in the distance and not part of so many people’s lifetimes.
And [00:30:00] then the 96 bombing happened and it brought it all back mm-hmm. And said, this is a dangerous world. And of course then things happen subsequently that really brought that home. But to have that happen, in such a joyous moment did definitely change how people viewed security in public sporting arenas.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And then there’s Izzy, there are so many people who adore Izzy and so many people who hate Izzy, and I think Mandeville and Wenlock from 2012 probably had that same effect. There were kids who just thought those creepy little, one-eyed guy was fantastic,
But I will say this about Izzy and I know, uh, when Lock and Manville will have the same effect. There are kids who are now adults who are listeners of our show, who say Izzy is the reason they got into the Olympics. And I think when we get like 10 years on, you’ll hit those kids who will say, when Locke and Mandeville were the reason they watched and got into it.
John: Yeah, we were pretty dismissive of, um, the freezers, uh, the other week unfortunately. I thought, I thought they looked like the Smurfs to me, but anyway, I’m sure I’ll love them. In Paris in a, in a, in a couple of years time. just a thought on the whole after sale of the Olympics, is this something that actually the Olympics could look at?
Because we all know you, you guys have been to Beijing and, and we’ve been to Rio, and as soon as the Olympics is done, they’re out of there. They, they’re not looking back. They’re onto their next, um, their next host city actually. shouldn’t more stories be told and, and it is part of journalists as well, to, to go back and, and, and as you guys did, and look back, you know, 25 years on or whatever.
But actually, I’ve never known that Jill, what you told me about Atlanta, and that has never come across in this, and actually as Michael said, team GB had the worst ever Olympics in Atlanta. And, and it, you could go back and tell that story from a British point of view and, and how actually beneficial it was for Atlanta to, to stage those games.
And I wonder whether actually the Olympics needs to do, you know, they all talk about sustainability and green games and all that, but actually there does need to be some kind of legacy for, for every Olympics to ensure that it does change the narrative before the ho Yeah. Because we all know the reason why people don’t wanna host it is cuz it costs too much money and you get lumbered with white elephants.
Well actually, is that really the case? And are there benefits and, and, and trying to sell more of those stories.
Alison: That legacy report that came out this year from the I O C about all the venues. We did a, an episode. Oh yeah, I remember that. Went through all of those. Yeah. And that was really important I think, because it’s exactly what you’re talking about, John, that idea of let’s look back and see what influence just these buildings had.
Now let’s do a legacy report on what we were talking about earlier. What’s the effect on youth sports? What’s the effect on infrastructure in the city? What other influences have come to play? I think Tokyo is actually doing a really good job in this cuz they had that one year after event. You know, like, remember we just hosted the Olympics last year.
Look at all these cool things we’re still doing. Mm-hmm. I thought that was brilliant.
Jill: Right. But I do agree that the I O C moves on the organizing committees shut down and they’re the really, the ones that drive some of this and I. Sometimes I think for some cities the legacy elements of their bid is a lot of lip service and they don’t really think about it and they do it because it takes time and effort and money to build a solid plan and to make sure that plan gets implemented afterwards.
And Montreal is a surprising city of how they’ve made stuff work because we all know Montreal had horrific debt from running those games. And I went up there in 2016 when it was an anniversary year and they had a whole bunch of, museum exhibits around those games and I was officiating roller derby in one of the former venues.
And that was cool because it was still getting used as a community center. But, then we had them on the show, I think in 2019 I something in Montreal again, and they are working so hard to. Make that stadium something that is used and there’s a lot of events that go on there. They have, movie shoots in there as well.
They can use it as sets for different things. The pool is just like the pool in London. It’s a community pool. It’s fabulous. they have athletic centers. They’re, they’re really trying to make something happen because they know that it’s a really expensive endeavor. Mm-hmm. And I, I do think cities trying, we just don’t get to see a lot about that.
What I noticed in about the five minutes I watched of the, figure skating Grand Prix this weekend, it was in the Torino venue for the figure skating. That was
Alison: great. I was gonna say, see Canadians. Fabulous .
Micheal: Where, where would you, where would you love the Olympics to go? Where, where, if, if you could [00:35:00] plunk an Olympics in a city or region, where, where would you, where would you like it to be?
Jill: why I have been,
Alison: why I have been pounding the Stockholm drum since they lost the bid, to Milan. That bid was so good, so good, so well thought out, so controlled Not a lot of room for messing about , for lack of a better phrase, but it just was such a fantastic bit and we are having so much trouble finding proper host cities for the Winter Olympics.
And how more appropriate could it be than being in Stockholm? And then with that, sliding track over in Latvia and making it an international bid. Looked so brilliant to me, and I was very disappointed, and I get more disappointed the closer we get some Milan and the more problems come up. And now we’re having all this trouble with 2030.
The Canadian bit has fallen apart. nobody really wants to put it again in the United States. Sapporo’s having trouble, and I’m just begging Stockholm to, you know, ask us out again. Mm-hmm. and, and see if they’d be willing to give us another chance.
Michael: Well, I’m just right. Gone then, Jill. A summer, a summer venue.
Where would you like a summer venue? We’ve had a, a dream winter venue.
Jill: Right? I know this is hard because there’s part of me that wants, you know, you hear India wants it, Jakarta wants it, and you kind of wonder can those cities really make it happen? and there’s part of me that’s hopeful. I mean, I, I appreciated Rio 2016 in one element.
I, I think there were a lot of factors against the execution of Rio, namely, you know, governments that like bribes and things like that, and lack of budgeting and, and what have you. and that’s going against where I, I lived in Chicago at the time and we famously lost to Rio and Chicago would’ve been a fabulous host city.
I would still love to see the games in Chicago. I don’t think they do it now, but I think they would be a great city. But I do wonder about the legacy of spreading the Olympics out. I wonder post, I mean, we’re now getting close to 10 years past the World Cup in South. , would South Africa be able to host an Olympics?
Well, of course. I, I don’t know. It would be
John: nice to see, of course, Durban.
Michael: they should have been hosting the Commonwealth Games this year.
John: Yeah. Oh, and they, and they pulled out, which is why Birmingham stood up for it. So I agree. I think South Africa would be an amazing place for the Olympics.
I’m, I’m definitely not thinking Qatar, so like, avoid that all costs. Dunno why you want to go and, and do that. but I have, I’ve, I’ve written down Stockholm, Atlanta, Montreal, uh, holiday destinations for the Cushing family. Um, we, we need to go and visit these places. You’ve started, literally sold these
Michael: places for me menu and me thought we were going on holiday, taking your wife and child on holiday.
How disappointing and why, why we are looking to, to the future. I mean, what, what’s your views on the sport program? are there, are there sports that. you would cut winter or summer. Are there, are there sports that, that you’d like, you know, do we want to get N NFL in there?
Alison: No. No. . Anything but footy?
Micheal: Anything but footy .
Alison: Well, I thought it was very interesting cuz you both spoke to, uh, Sky Brown, the, skateboard Skateboarder. Skateboarder. Thank you. I was about to say figure skater, and I’m like, no, that’s the wrong skate. the skateboarder. And we were both troubled in Tokyo with how young all those skateboarders were.
And was the sport ready? If your top athletes are 16 and under, is the sport really ready to be on the Olympic stage? I mean, she is a very sweet kid, and I loved that interview because you were very gentle with her , you know, being she’s, 13. Yeah. I mean, talk about adopting a child. I mean, she really is, in almost grandchild territory for me at this point.
I mean, she’s so young. . And so that’s a sport. I question just because was it ready for this kind of stage?
Michael: interesting on Sky. cuz John mentioned earlier, we do the spinoff Great British Bosses. So when skateboarding got that, that nod if you like, we went and interviewed the chief executive of, of skateboard gb, a guy called James Hope Gill, who lives not too far from me.
and it literally skateboard GB was him in, in his bedroom. That that was it. It’s now because of that medal, an organization that employs about 18 people as I understand it. So because the medal triggers the funding and so that’s why it’s been able to. . I go down, I see James. It’s pre pandemic, so we’re doing it in person.
and I say, what, you know, why is Sky Brown representing Great Britain? Why not the us Why not Japan? And, and if I could just put something back to you, Alison, [00:40:00] on what you said there on that idea of being so young and, and welfare. What James Hope Gill said to me was that what Great Britain said to Sky Brown was just carry on doing what you’re doing, carry on going and doing your competitions that you want to do, do your appearances that you want to do.
We’re not gonna put you on a program. And what the states were saying, what Japan was saying was, you come here, you’re on a program, we’re gonna start weighing you every day, which you don’t want to be doing with a 13 year old girl as a father of girls that are 12 and 10. You don’t wanna start that kind of, activity behaviors with them, do you?
So what Great Britain said was, We will support you to get you to the qualification and we’ll help fund that and we’ll give you the best. But beyond that, we just want you and your parents to carry on doing what you’re doing. And, and the states in Japan were like, no, you need to come and, be part of the program.
We need to see you, we need to have you here. We need to be doing debriefs and all the rest of it. So I do take your point totally. But I think the approach that they took with Sky in this country was as good as it probably could be. And I think as I understand it, it was the parent’s choice.
Alison: Oh, I absolutely am thrilled that she was Team GB because on Team u s A, she would’ve been plastered on cereal boxes.
She would’ve been forced into commercials. She would’ve been a poster child. And I’m impressed with how protected she was by the British, team. It was smart. I mean, she’s a child. She’s still a child. Hmm. And the fact that we don’t hear from her, Much except at competition time would not have happened in the United States because we saw it with Chloe Kim.
Uh, we interviewed Chloe Kim, you know, way back before Pyeongchang, and she was being trotted out at 16 years old for every media event, and she struggled from it. I mean, we’ve seen a lot of these kids struggle when they get trotted out and Team u s A does not do a great job of protecting them
Michael: because I think actually one of the, the standout moments of Tokyo, one of the most important Olympic moments, was probably what Simone Biles did.
and I know there, there’s always this debate that we will get fed very British viewpoint, very British coverage. As I understand it. You will as well get, you know, we very much focused your TV coverage on, on what American athletes are doing. It takes a Simone Biles or a Usain Bolt, I think, in this country to sort of get beyond what, what the Brits are doing.
And, and I think the Simone Biles story in, in Tokyo was, probably one of the most important Olympic stories.
Alison: How was that covered in the uk?
Michael: I think it was a learning experience for a lot of journalists and broadcasters, I think. and I know certainly I was working for a radio station, and there were conflicting viewpoints in the radio station.
some people were of the opinion, you, you shouldn’t, you know, put yourself up for the team and then let your team down. That wasn’t my opinion. but that, that was certainly an opinion that was, was written about and broadcast, but I think. Certainly in, in this country, the, the discussions around mental health, and the pressures of being an elite athlete, those discussions have ramped up significantly.
And for someone like Simone Biles on that platform in that moment to say and do what she did, I think was a game changer.
Jill: Well, and I think in the US I’d be interested to hear how it is. In the UK we put so much pressure on children to be professionals at almost every level. There’s so many children in travel team sports just be in, and a lot of it is with the hopes of getting college scholarships because college is so expensive and that doesn’t happen.
Most kids are not going to be pros and the amount of money. and time that parents will invest into maybe one child of several, this one child that theirs has talent and everybody else kind of gets dragged along with it. And I do, I do feel like kids get put under a whole lot of pressure that’s not necessary except for the reward of winning something and the, the internal satisfaction that that brings doesn’t quite equate the amount of sacrifice it takes to get there.
and the payout at the end where you really feel like we have to get a payoff to make it worth all the money that we’ve put into this sport is not quite there either.
John: I think it was one of the things that I really struggled with, with the whole Valley Ava case. in Beijing was the her age and a bit like what Alison was saying, and Sky Brown.
You can, you can sit there and go, well, Why is it wrong? cuz I had to do lots of interviews. I think Michael and I probably spoke about figure skating more in that week than we’ve ever spoken in our entire lives [00:45:00] since, uh, Tova and Dean in 1984. but I was doing interviews with, with radio stations, with, Just presenters who were just interested in the story, it crossed over.
It was one of those stories, and it was like, well, why are the Russians pushing for her to, to compete? Obviously, you know, aside from the whole doping allegations, but the fact is that we can’t sit there and go, yes, it’s outrageous that she’s being pushed and pushed and pushed. And then we are saying, well, it’s okay for our 12 year olds to go and do Olympic sports as well.
And I, I believe that there is a time coming up, and it’s probably coming up pretty soon where I think there has to be an age limit across all sports for the Olympics. it because the world has changed. It’s not, nachi time anymore. The world has moved on. The, these kids have a voice and rightly so.
And they don’t necessarily want to do what they’re being asked to do. A lot of ’em do, but some of them don’t. And I think you can see that from what’s going on with Canadian sport at the moment in, certainly in gymnastics and, and, and the like. So look, I think there’s massive question marks about ages in the Olympics.
And, and there should be, I think some kind of age limit, moving forward. That’s my personal opinion.
Alison: So then what do you think of the Youth Olympics?
John: That they should be bigger? I think they should have more coverage. I think we should, have the opportunity because you are then competing against, You are same age you are, you are all there together.
You are. It’s, it’s the equivalent of going on a cub scout or, or, or a weekend effectively. I, and I don’t un and you know, I’m not being flippant. It can be that way. It can be, this is about taking part, this is about bringing the world together. , of course, we’ve heard Thomas b talk about how the, the Olympics wants to bring unity together for the last three or four weeks as he’s pushing his, Russian athlete agenda through.
Uh, very much so. But if you get the Youth Olympics and it’s a gibaree and it’s a, a party in effect then, but it is from 14 to 18 year olds and then that allows. The Olympics to be a different thing. Now you can also, and I can imagine some of the newspaper headlines in our country, um, a few papers leap to mind.
if you are good enough, you are old enough. And if, if you are 16 and you are setting the world in light, you should go and represent your country. Not necessarily the right thing to do, I don’t think in, in the way that the, the mod
Michael: world is.
Yeah. We’ve had Sky obviously, I think, they did it the right way.
They go back to 2008, Tom Daley, 1415. he has just grown up and matured, and just become a phenomenal young man. Uh, and I mean, more than just diving here, I mean, just in everything that he does and the, the platform that he has, the role he had in the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, this year as well.
and he went to the games very young. but it doesn’t seem to have had that destructive effect on him. so I agree with John. I think, I think an age limit’s coming, but I think more needs to be done on, on the systems that are producing these athletes. Cause it can be done right. and you talk about the, the togetherness. I think, you know what was really interesting when, when skateboarding, um, was how together all those, those skateboarders were at the end, whether they’d won medals, lost medals, fallen over, done really well, achieved an outstanding personal best.
There was that brilliant togetherness at the end, and I thought that the new sports in Tokyo really energized the program.
Jill: well, you know, we talk about legacies in, Olympic cities and host cities. I wonder if we should look at, not necessarily legacies, but how the games have treated athletes 10, 20 years down the road, and especially for young athletes.
Was there involvement in sport good for them? how was it detrimental in some ways or how did it affect it, affect their body? Because I know, at least for us, in the US we famously think of Tara Lapinski who won the gold at Nagano for figure skating at age 15, and by age 1920, she already was having hip replacements And you don’t have that.
John: I, I, I think it’s a really important, again, having that profile, you only hear. of the people generally who go on and be successful, so the, the youngsters who go on and, and achieve things. But we also know that there will be so many that will have, you know, not even got to that level and had their lives potentially ruined because of it as well.
it’s, I think it’s a really interesting way of, of looking at legacy and looking at the, the benefits. And it’s one of the things in this country [00:50:00] that, UK sport who control the, the money that gets passed around from the government and the lottery to the, federations that runs sport, it’s one of the things they’re really looking at is helping also successful athletes.
because what do you do at the age transition? Yeah. What do you do at the age of 34 where all you’ve done is road for your entire life and you know, or uh, run or leapt into a sandpit, whatever, and how do you then have the rest of your life? Because there were more and more people taking part in, in sport and, and the Olympics and, but you want them to feel like, cuz we laugh.
They say, oh, we do interviews with ’em. Say, oh, you’re retiring. And they’re like, well, I’m not dying. you know, they’ve got the rest of their life to, to lead. But we say they’re retiring from sport at the age of 24. Lots of swimmers do it. So, uh, it is something that they’re really working on, in, in this country is, is helping them have another part of their, of their career rather than, well, when we stop, it’s the end.
Michael: I think you’ve hit something really important, Jill, a, a more athlete focused, um, approach to it. Yeah, we can talk all we like about arenas and parks and all the rest of it, but until you just said that out loud, I hadn’t really thought about legacy in, in that way. and I, I think , you should be sticking that in an email to Thomas dot Barker, i o c um, dot org or whatever
cuz I think, I think it is, uh, it’s just how athletes transition out of elite sport, at whatever level, whether they’ve won 17 gold medals or whether they finished 23 out of 24 or what, whatever it is. there has to be more done around welfare, um, we’re aim to sort of bring it to a conclusion then by looking ahead a little bit, who, who are our stateside athletes that we should be and our Canadians, Alison, that we should be , looking out for then next year in Paris.
Alison: Well, we have our own country in our show called Fulan, made up of our guests.
So we don’t just talk to American athletes. We have our fulanis. So I will say too, that our American, that we had chatted with, that’ll be back our, Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble, more sailors, both coming back from injuries and various health issues and looking really, really great. Right now, I do not have any Canadians that I can talk about, nor New Zealanders , but that’s what we’ll be working on over the next year, I think, to, get some more people for Paris 2024.
Michael: John, who’s you want to watch from a team GB point of view? I’ve got a name written down. If, if you,
John: I think from a, we are going through a huge transition. We talked about this a minute ago. and I think there’s a lot of our big name athletes who will be there, Ella Max Whitlock and gymnastics, and probably Tom Daley in, in diving.
But they’re all kind of, again, ending their careers. You know, they’re kind of coming to the end of their careers. Um, and they’re obviously the obvious ones. Laura Kenny, I think, has said this week that Paris is her last, uh, Olympics and, and she won’t be coming back on the cycling. Uh, but I’ve, I’ve stuck with cycling and I, and.
I highlighted him at Tokyo and I think he’s gonna become probably the best cyclist in the world. Uh, and that’s Tom Pock,
Michael: which is the name I have written on my piece of paper there as if we were in some kind of David Copperfield, Darren Brown mind bending show. We’ve done this too long. I knew I knew the name that you were coming up with and I’d written it down a while back.
John: Yeah, he’s just, he’s, he can do road cycling, he can do, he’s the mountain bike Olympic champion. He’s coming, gonna come back and defend that in Paris. He’s, does Cycling cross. He’s a world champion at that. So he, he is incredible and he’s a local ad to where, Michael is from or near from.
and he’s just a, a really, really, nice guy. And these are the people that why we started our podcast, which is just talk about these people because. Nobody else talks about them until they have become these, mega superstars in, in team GB land.
Michael: So should we do this again over a coffee and a croson on the sh in person?
Alison: We absolutely,
Michael: definitely. it is a date, as it were for, uh, our two podcasts. It’s been brilliant. speaking to you both. I’ve gotta say absolutely fantastic. As you know, we’re big fans of your podcast. We love what you’re doing, and we really enjoy listening to them whenever they’re out. And yeah.
Thank you so much for, for being part of the Christmas special.
Jill: And likewise, thank you so much for coming on.
Alison: we had a lot of fun listening to the Commonwealth coverage. Good
Michael: I’m glad it, we, we worked hard at it and [00:55:00] we are glad that the Commonwealth Games is, is resonating in the US you
Alison: had a giant bull. How could the Americans not love that ?
Michael: Well, on the question of where I would love to see the Olympics, Birmingham would be, would be a, a play if it was to come back to the uk.
I think Glasgow in Scotland or a Glasgow Edinburgh bid would, would be good. I think Birmingham, a city that both John and I have lived in in the past, would be fantastic as well. So Yukon to Birmingham for the games, we’ll go to New York or Chicago, Atlanta. I’m off to Atlanta, a Montreal, Atlanta
and. we, we’ll look forward to being royally entertained by you both .
Jill: All right, excellent. that will do it for this week. Let us know if you listen to and love Anything But Footy. And if you’re new to our a show, here’s how to get in touch with us.
Alison: You can email us at flame alive pod gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod. And be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook and
Jill: we’ve got all of that and more at Flame Life. Do flame alive pod.com. Thank you so much, Michael and John for coming on the show.
It’s been so much fun. Happy holidays to you, a great 2023 as well. And thank you listeners so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.