Being from the US, we are used to having a large contingent at the Winter and/or Summer Olympics (and Paralympics, for that matter). We’re also used to seeing our athletes on the podium. Not every country has it that good, so we appreciate it when we get the opportunity to talk with an athlete from a smaller nation who has little to no support [yes, we realize that the government does not fund US athletes and many of them also do not have a lot of financial support either] and still tries to forge a path in sport to make opportunities for their nation and fellow citizens who could also be Olympians.
On this episode, that pioneer is Irish skeleton racer Brendan Doyle. Ireland is not known for its sliding program or its winter Olympic athletes, but Brendan is hopeful that he can build a sliding tradition in the country. Brendan aims to qualify for Milan-Cortina 2026 (his attempts to qualify for PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022 ended in sadness–and we get into that), so we talked about his journey and everything he does as a solo athlete.
Follow Brendan on Insta and X, and check out his website. Brendan has also founded BuildThroughSport, a non-profit that aims to highlight the character-building aspects of sport, show how taking up sport can build positive attributes that can contribute to success in all aspects of life, fund sports organizations and athletes so more people can participate in sport.
In our Seoul 1988 history moment, Alison looks Ireland’s participation at these Olympics, including what happened in the boxing ring.
In Milan-Cortina 2026 news, the sliding track situation has truly turned into a novella (it’s been so long since we’ve had one!)–and the IOC has some words for the Organizing Committee on what they should do.
Don’t forget that our Kickstarter is live–help us get to Paris to give you the coverage of Paris 2024 that you deserve!
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Brendan Doyle.
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.
Irish Winter Olympic Hopeful Brendan Doyle (Episode 312)
Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics.
If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?
[00:00:47] Alison: I’m doing okay. Um, we may have a little problem.
Yes. It is not the magical hour of vacuuming. It is the magical hour of drywall.
[00:00:57] Jill: Oh, there
[00:00:59] Alison: is some work going on here. thankfully the delivery truck that was a winch and a crane is gone. But I apologize to the listeners if they hear some pounding or some, some rather odd noises in the background.
[00:01:14] Jill: we have a lot to work around, but it is what it is. We make it work.
[00:01:18] Alison: Well, making it work kind of is a perfect segue for our guest today.
[00:01:22] Jill: Yes, exactly.
Brendan Doyle Interview
[00:01:23] Jill: So, as podcasters from the U. S., which large country, and we are accustomed to competing in most Olympic and Paralympic sports and getting a decent medal haul at games. One of the topics we like looking at is smaller countries who have little to no resources and athletes who are trying to carve a path for their country to have a place in elite sport.
So today we are joined by Brendan Doyle, a skeleton slider from Ireland, Ireland. Not known for its sliding program or its winter Olympic athletes, but Brendan is trying to make it work and he’s trying to change that.
Brendan missed out on a trip to PyeongChang 2018 [00:02:00] by one point. And for Beijing 2022, quota places were taken away from the men to give to women’s events, much like we talked with a few episodes ago with Dr. Michelle Donnelly. Uh, so he missed out on Beijing, even though he would have qualified before those quota places were taken away.
So he is now working on his third and final attempt to qualify for Milan Cortina 2026. We talked with Brendan about his journey. Take a listen.
Brendan Doyle, thank you so much for joining us to talk about not just skeleton, but being someone from a small winter sports country and trying to make a go of it and become an Olympian as
[00:02:45] Brendan Doyle: skeleton. Thanks so much for having me on. Yeah, that’s one way of putting it, but yes, thank you.
[00:02:50] Jill: Well, it’s interesting.
We from the U. S. enjoy talking to people from countries that don’t have as developed a sports program and the U. S. athletes have their own issues. In sliding, we’re not like Germany and Austria. , but You’ve got it worse than we do. I will say that,
[00:03:06] Brendan Doyle: right?
I’ve got a different to you guys. I say that a lot too, , cause I mean, we obviously all carry our own issues, right? So like I often speak to the American team cause I moved over from Ireland to be closer to the Lake Placid, , training facility, they have a fantastic indoor push facility, which is open in like June, which.
Gives me infinitely more ice to train on. And, chatting with the guys and the girls there, like they all have their own issues and, they’re from team USA, which makes a lot of people think that they don’t have funding problems and they don’t have, , certain kind of bottlenecks that they have to negotiate in their careers.
So , sometimes I feel sorry for. For the bigger nations, let’s just say, because everyone expects them to have everything where a lot of the athletes are doing it on their own with this expectation of they’re in a big team, so they don’t have to worry. But, , they definitely have a little bit better , than myself.
I am the whole [00:04:00] team. And, I’ve essentially, , sold everything that I have and I’ve put everything into this sport. , so like the achievement of literally standing at the top of a track with my own sled. And my own helmet and my own shoes is huge compared to like some of the other nations.
So, it’s basically, it’s, it’s down to each individual, but , there’s a lot of obstacles, , put in front of, let’s say someone like myself coming from a smaller nation, , that other nations don’t have to deal with. I
[00:04:27] Alison: mean, at the very least there, you had to leave Ireland.
There are no tracks in Ireland. There are no tracks in the UK. You had to fly away from home and very far from home.
[00:04:38] Brendan Doyle: Yeah, we have, Great Britain, one of the, I would say the biggest, they are funded, by lottery funding , and they have an amazing staff and they have the support there.
Like , the sliders don’t even know what their flights are. They don’t need to know. Their job is to drive a sled, where I’m on the other hand, I’m thinking, oh, wow, I need to learn how to market. I need to make connections. I need to figure out what companies look for for sponsorship.
I need to find out where the tracks are. I need , to do everything. , it doesn’t happen unless I do it. , there’s very little, what I would say common sense about this sport, it’s all like highly specific. So, , to. Make the decision to come over to the US, , was something I’d never thought I’d.
Do, but I’m at the stage of my career, , where I have to change something. I narrowly, narrowly missed out, , the Olympics, , and I don’t want a repeat again. And if I keep everything in status quo, there’s a chance that the same results will happen. So I needed to figure out what I needed to do. And it’s kind of ironic, you know, me being a European.
You know, there’s a bunch of tracks in Europe, but there’s also language barriers and different things in the way where I come over to the States, , I’m fairly proficient , in the U S tracks, that’s how I learned how to slide , is in Calgary and Whistler and Park City. So, to move over here was.
Probably the best option that I had in [00:06:00] front of me , with what I had to do. So, I did it with the mindset , of more ice time, growth, availability of, of driving to a track, , without the obstacles of language barrier and so on. And
[00:06:12] Alison: being in the Northeast, you’re going to find a good size Irish expat
[00:06:16] Brendan Doyle: community.
Oh yeah, yeah. Everyone has a story about how they’re Irish or they know someone that’s Irish. And I love it. I’m absolutely here for it. There’s no problem whatsoever with it. and honestly, like it’s a five hour flight home. , it’s closer , to Ireland than it is , to get over to Whistler. So I’m pretty much on my doorstep.
[00:06:33] Jill: In one sense being in North America and having access to North American tracks is nice, but on the other hand, North America is big.
[00:06:41] Brendan Doyle: Yeah. Yeah, it is.
[00:06:43] Jill: Do you find that you stay in Lake Placid a lot or do you go when you can, or do you go when there are meets?
[00:06:50] Brendan Doyle: , I try to utilize the tracks as best as possible.
So my off season is really the biggest driving factor behind the relocation. But the, ice house opening up in June, essentially I can get consistent push times or push training sessions. like every week I can go down and do two days and then I come home and, I might do another block of gym and, and flatline sprinting and then go back out to Lake Placid.
So I have more available to me during the off season. And then , during the actual season, it comes down to like, budget is the game budget is the game. And, you know, we have, tracks like Park City have a program where you pay a thousand dollars for a season of sliding and that can be one sliding or that could be, a hundred slides.
So, I try to do it that way. So, this year I’m, I’m predominantly staying in North America to try to make my money last into the more important years, be it year three and four of the quad, which is next season and the season after.
[00:07:47] Jill: I’m glad you mentioned payment for Park City. I would imagine you have to pay for track time. You have to pay for track time and push house time as well.
[00:07:57] Brendan Doyle: Yep. I don’t touch ice unless I pay for it. , I [00:08:00] don’t have equipment unless it comes out of my bank account. Everything that I do.
[00:08:05] Jill: What does Lake Placid charge?
[00:08:07] Brendan Doyle: so initially they charge quite a bit, , but they’ve changed it now and I think now it’s like 50 for a training session. Uh, it was up to 200 a training session for just pushing your sled. And, , I am human, so I can’t do, you know, 500 pushes in a day. So, , a push session could be.
Eight, eight pushes, depending on how my legs are feeling, you know, I could get out to Lake Placid and everything is too stiff and I just have to go home. because it’s not worth the injury risk for the money I’ve spent. So sometimes you just have to shut it down and that’s just, I suppose that’s maturity, right?
It’s making the right call and it’s sometimes the expensive call, but , you have to listen to your body. So, the cost varies every time I go down a skeleton track to do an actual run. It costs around 25, , some more, some less, and some, some places give you like a season pass, some don’t.
So it can quickly amount up. Just like you get a package deal. Yeah, that’s it. Yeah. You get a package deal. , I mean, that’s why I love Park City because it’s a thousand dollars for essentially a season of sliding. So if you decide, Hey, I’m going to camp here. I’m just. Work on certain aspects of slide, be it form, be it gliding, be it different.
Like I want to try something crazy. I’ve got the time to do that. I just have to pay the accommodation and the car rental and stuff like that, but the sliding quickly becomes affordable when you get those like package deals. Okay. So
[00:09:34] Alison: Ireland is not just small in winter sports. Ireland is not number one, not a big country.
And two it has a long Olympic history, but not a big Olympic history. And an entire country is just throwing things at the wall at me, but. How is your working with the Irish Olympic committee when it’s a small operation to begin
[00:09:55] Brendan Doyle: with? Well, I mean, , in comparison , to a lot more bigger nations, , [00:10:00] absolutely, but Ireland we’ve done fantastic in Olympic games in terms of boxing.
And we have track and field athletes who are shooting way above, what we could expect them to do. , we do have a strong sporting, , culture in Ireland. , Not too happy about how the rugby turned out there, , but I’ll take it. It’s fine. I’m not crying about it. but we do have a very strong, sporting and Olympic heritage.
We are building, and it’s something that I’ve seen, , within the last, I mean, even since Paris, we’ve seen some really tremendous, Results and I’m from a broader range of sports, right? So we have like Taekwondo, boxing, we have athletics where we’re really spreading out like badminton, , modern pentathlon, like all of these different sports are really, really come to the forefront and it’s directly from, , how the Olympic Federation of Ireland have, have essentially come in and centric.
now it’s tougher for winter sports because there’s no infrastructure there. So you hear a lot of the times where a summer athlete, let’s say track and field, if you run certain time, you will be going to the Olympics and you can qualify year one and you don’t have to do anything, your qualifications there.
With skeleton, you have to, you can’t qualify until the year off. So often we’re waiting, literally a week before the Olympics to see like, who’s doing what and where you’re going, which can be a bit of a nightmare for , let’s say making a funding application, for showing the context of your results.
Like I can turn around and say, here’s a 21st place result at a world championship. It means nothing to them because they’re living in the world of, we want a top 10 here, or we want this. And it’s really hard to stress how monumental let’s say it is to. Get that top 20 or top 21 or whatever it may be given that we don’t have an infrastructure.
We don’t have the support. We don’t have the staff. We don’t have the tracks at home. So , to not only be qualified for a world championships to be like right there , with some of the bigger nations and some of [00:12:00] the nations that I should theoretically not be competitive with is a massive, massive win.
And, I feel. I’m looking at the tides and they are changing a little bit in Ireland and we are getting some interest. we have a Nordic skier who’s already qualified for Italy. And then we have speed skaters, we’ve curling, we’ve ice hockey. So like there’s a real. Bulls behind winter sports in Ireland now.
So, and I do see the Olympic federation of Ireland. They’ve done fantastic work with supporting athletes. It’s just trying to get, let’s say the likes of sports Ireland behind that drive, which I do see so as well, but, whether or not it’s , in my, next three years, I I’m finished after Italy. I can’t go anymore.
I can’t put my life on hold anymore, but, , it would be great to see some funding and support, in my career, but We have done a lot more in the last maybe two seasons, three seasons in terms of winter sports, and I can only see an improving too.
[00:12:52] Jill: Does the Irish Olympic committee and sport Ireland, do they look at what you’re doing and go, okay, so how are you organizing this?
As a framework to like, keep going forward for once you retire, then people aren’t reinventing the wheel if you’ve got more skeleton racers behind you.
[00:13:11] Brendan Doyle: Yeah, there’s, actually, it’s quite a communication rich environment right now. And they’re trying to build the parameters and they’re trying to, um, essentially , this kind of, I’m not going to say friction point, but it’s like one side of saying that.
You know, these results will come once the support is there, but obviously you need a certain level of proficiency to warrant any support. So like, it’s kind of like, how do we show that this athlete can go on to do better things, , while still having a bar of entry. , so I do see , there’s quite a lot of calls and meetings to discuss what’s happening.
And I think the Olympic Federation of Ireland are doing everything they can to put context to, let’s say. A result, which may not look as impressive as it actually is. I’m quite excited to see where it goes. [00:14:00] And I do see a lot of work being done. , it’s just when I think is the, is, is the question.
[00:14:05] Jill: As a pioneer, it’s so hard to be the first one or one of the first people. How does that feel going through it?
And what do you think about that kind of keeps you going?
[00:14:17] Brendan Doyle: I would say that right now it, , it feels like a little bit of a war, like a battle zone. , it just feels like, an incredible amount of obstacles put in front of me. And, I don’t really have anything to negotiate with them. Ireland has.
Like our best, performance at the Olympic games, was a fourth place with Clifton Wrotteseley in 2002. one of my favorite tracks is Park City again, giving them a lot of, advertisement, but, um, Park City 2002, where he narrowly came fourth behind Switzerland’s Greg Ristelli, , what a race that was, , and.
he really worked , on getting the federation to grow. There was a lot of fights and there was a lot of friction against what he wanted to do. And, I’ve stepped in and I’ve probably been the most consistent slider to represent Ireland. It’s, as I said, it’s my seventh season now and, we have a, a young girl , who’s looking to, um, represent Ireland and we’re going to be sliding together at the North America’s Cup this year.
And that feels like incredibly exciting to have someone else come on. I have done a lot of work to try to show just how hard it is to be a winter athlete, a lot of people, and this is like a misconception almost, but , when you’re saying that , you’re training for the, for the Olympics, everyone assumes summer and then they go, Oh, just the winter one kind of thing.
And, it’s equally as, as tough, and , the price tag that. That comes along with this is insane. When I like to look at, runners talking about , their training camps, I’m kind of like, I wish, I wish that’s what my training camps were. but to say I’m a pioneer is quite flattering.
I just have a goal and I’m more stubborn than I am. Uh, logical with what I’m trying to do, I’ve such a passion , for this [00:16:00] sport and for what sport can offer people, , that, you know, I owe it to myself to continue, until I I’ve achieved my goal. So that’s where I am right now. And if I can make one of my goals would be to have other people participate in this sport without having to give up their everything, without having to sell everything.
You shouldn’t have to make that choice of. You know, represent your country or like not have anything at all. so it would be amazing that even off my work, I say , this new girl comes on and she gets funding, three years into her career, as opposed to seven, , that’d be fantastic.
[00:16:33] Alison: How great is it to even consider having somebody to work with now?
[00:16:37] Brendan Doyle: I’ve been like literally on my own for the last seven years, so to have someone else to turn up to and like cheer off at the start of a race, in our colours is, is so awesome. I say that, look, I’ve. Worked with a lot of nations, , because coaching is insanely expensive. so I kind of jump in with different nations.
I’ve worked with team GB, I’ve worked with team Canada and they just welcome you in and it is amazing. It’s so much easier to sport is so punishing on like emotionally and mentally. So to have a group of people to fall back on and just unwind and de stress is huge. . But to have someone compete for your country, look, all I can say is there’s a team event in, in 2026 and, it would mean the world that if we could, I make the games, she made the games and we, we make the first mixed team event be huge.
So, , it’d be a nice little cherry on the top of my whole story, I suppose.
[00:17:32] Jill: So how do you improve when you are looking to yourself for coaching or YouTube for coaching or, other countries, hopefully?
[00:17:41] Brendan Doyle: a lot of trial and error, hitting walls, bruising myself, burns, scrapes, crashes, the whole lot, like, , and embracing it. You need a good memory, but also the memory of a goldfish.
You need to be able to let things go. But also remember the why, and along the way I’ve, I’ve been lucky enough [00:18:00] to be mentored by some phenomenal coaches who just, want you to grow as a human being, but also want to teach you essentially how to fish as opposed to just execution. And , there’s coaches I’ve worked with that have.
Taught me more about the sport in a week than I have in a whole season with someone. And, , it’s people like that, that help you grow as a person and make you believe in yourself. imposter syndrome is absolutely real. I still suffer from it now, it’s totally real, but there’s people out there that make you Um, second guess that and think maybe I do deserve to be here. Maybe I have performed well and, you know, I’ve done the work , to say that I belong here. So, , I do a lot of listening and then I let it, just all the mistakes that I’ve made. I remember them and I learned from them. It’s so hard to fast track this sport because it’s all on feel and it’s all on communication and we all communicate differently.
So like when someone says do something in my head, I did it, but I, I didn’t really do it. So, Yes, just time and experience and just, owning your mistakes and looking at those mistakes as opportunities to grow.
[00:19:06] Jill: I feel like you’ve got the setting for an 80s movie here where you got the stereotypical like rich Germans who’ve got, and it’s, they’re, they’re not necessarily the skeleton head, but like the rich guys who’ve got everything going for them, do they really act like that?
[00:19:25] Brendan Doyle: No, man, they’re all wonderful. I wish I could trash talk them, but they’re all wonderful people.
[00:19:29] Jill: Is there one thing that you would just love to have that you can’t afford right now?
[00:19:36] Brendan Doyle: it’s just support. consistent coaching. , it’s so important because we’re all individuals on the sled and we all interpret things different ways.
, so to have a consistent mentor or coach week on week watching you, , essentially make the same mistake again, or the mistake develops into, okay, well you missed the first part of, but guess what? You [00:20:00] fixed it in the middle of the corner. So there’s that like development of the relationship between athlete and coach, and that’s super important.
Every, every aspect of what I’ve done. , has made me a better person. So like, I don’t necessarily, I wouldn’t wish for it to change because I’m, I’m a product of all of the struggles that I’ve been through and I’ve learned so much about myself. So like with this new girl coming on, I’m just going to try help her with the mistakes I’ve made.
I’m not going to tell her what to do, but I’m just going to give her my experiences and what I’ve learned. And like the times where I’ve sat at it. At the end of a race and shook my head and like, why didn’t I listen to the coach or why didn’t I do this? And it’s just those really gut wrenching and mistakes or lessons I would say, , That having a consistent coach and support network there, , just kind of somewhat helps you fast track through the sport.
But, , it’s so funny. It’s the people who are around you , make the sports, not medals, not times, not races, not qualifications, none of that. It’s the people that like. Sit down with you when you’re like crying and you’re hurt and they look at you and they say they believe in you and you’re like, okay, I’m going to come back tomorrow then I was going to quit today, but now I’m coming back tomorrow.
And that’s what it is like having, having that environment get you through it.
[00:21:14] Jill: Maybe Hugh Jackman from Eddie the Eagle
[00:21:16] Brendan Doyle: is available as a coach. I don’t know if he’s good looking enough to play the part of me, but, you know.
[00:21:23] Alison: Okay, well, we should talk a little bit about struggle because that is such an important part of your story that you have shared very openly.
And I, I’m so thrilled that you do. So you’ve had your mental health challenges and now. You are coming off, obviously I’ve known you for all of half an hour, so strong and so positive. And just talk a little bit about, about where you were, where you are, how that evolution happens for you.
[00:21:52] Brendan Doyle: Yeah, it’s, it’s been quite like, I never ever intended on my life being, , as…
Interesting, let’s say as it has [00:22:00] been, and, I’ve personally, I’ve come a long way. And as I said to you, , just a minute ago, like all the mistakes I’ve made on the sled, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m a person who I am because of my mistakes and the lessons I’ve learned.
And, there was a lot. That I went through. I was a member of An Garda Síochána, which is the police service , in Ireland. And, I was attacked on duty. there was a person attacking their mother and I, basically, we were called to deal with the situation. And, he turned a weapon on me and I ended up, with some cuts on my hand.
Still to this day, permanently, permanently, like the ligaments is still completely curled up. So I can’t straighten my fingers and I’ve lost all the feeling in my thumb. And, having a background in sports, I was able to somewhat compartmentalize the physical injury. because you get injured in sports.
It is what it is. The body heals. You just have to let it do its thing. but I went down this kind of road that I had no idea that I was going to go down. , it started with like. Really vivid night terrors where I would dream of the incident over and over and I would wake up kind of grabbing my hand still thinking I was bleeding or the person there was still armed with a knife and to wake up to that.
We’ve woken up from like nightmares in the past, and you’re kind of like, Oh, it’s going to take me a few minutes to get back to sleep this. Like I was waking up, my heart was racing. I was sweating. It was very overwhelming. And I eventually developed insomnia, which essentially I associated falling to sleep with having these dreams, which I then tried to avoid waking up from.
So I would have problems. Essentially getting sleep. And to me, , even looking back after all of this time, the insomnia was probably the biggest catalyst to the direction in which my life changed. I now sleep like a baby, but you know, then I was really struggling. I maybe, maybe, maybe get an hour or two of, of broken sleep.
and that was over, over maybe five, five years longer. [00:24:00] And. Didn’t give me the ability to decompress and take on the new day. Everything molded into each other and problems just started to compound. So, when I, I wasn’t able to get to sleep, obviously, Life was harder to deal with.
And then, social networks started to break down and everything around me, I wasn’t able to train. I wasn’t able to go to work. So I was feeling like I was letting my, work colleagues down. I was letting my friends down. I was letting myself down. And it was just this pile of like negative. pressure always, always just day in, day out.
And, you know, I tried a lot of different things. I went to my doctor and I took what I thought was the right steps. , and the thing is when you’re going through depression or when you’re going through anxiety or PTSD, the, the easiest person to fool is yourself. So you might think you’re okay because it’s such a slow burner.
It’s such a slow, slow, slow burner. There wasn’t a day where I like figured out, Oh, I’m depressed or, Oh, I have insomnia or, Oh, I have this. There was none of that. So I just felt every day, I was like, Hey, I’m not getting a night’s sleep in. Or, it’s been a while since I’ve seen my friends.
Like it was just a slow burner. And To fill the nights, essentially, I would get in my car and I would, from Dublin to Cork is like a three and a half hour drive. I would drive down to Cork, see the welcome to Cork sign and then drive back to Dublin, literally just like, just to fill the nights and, things.
We’re really, really getting out of hand and I was getting super frustrated with myself because I attempted to go back to work and I was having panic attacks in work and dealing with absolute like mundane, normal calls, like a, person speeding, go to the area, check it out and see if you can catch them.
That would literally have me like. Feeling like I was having an asthma attack. Like I’d hear like my call sign on the radio and my weight vest would feel like, you know, 70 pounds and I feel like my collar [00:26:00] was choking me. So I would grab my inhaler because I’m an asthmatic. That’s what an asthma attack feels like.
I take it and nothing would change. And like that in a. In of itself is scary because you’re like, you don’t know what’s going on. And I had some good sergeants who recognized what I was doing and said, you need to take some time off again. And that made me feel like more of a failure because I was ready to get back on the horse in my head.
I was like, it’s. Um, let’s go teach yourself. It’s okay. And, things just got worse and worse. And it got to the stage where I felt the only way that I could take control of everything is to take my life essentially. And it was, I remember the day I remember the decision I made.
I wasn’t trying to make a scene. I wasn’t trying, I just felt like. I have no other options. I’m never going to get out of this. I’m never going to progress to anything. There’s no hope for me. So that this was the one way that I could take control of the situation. And I could, it feels like you’re living in a storm almost, like it’s just this constant high energy.
You’re not able to take a breath and. I felt like, taking my life was the one way to take control. And when I hear people who say they can’t understand people who are having suicidal thoughts, I think that’s a fantastic thing to hear because that means they’ve never really, really, really felt it.
Because to me, it was such a, it was like, I’m going to the store to buy some milk. It was just such a nonchalant. This is my only option left. And that’s all it was. And. I got incredibly lucky, because where I was going to do it, I look at a girl behind me talking to her mom and I was like, I can’t do anything here.
Like she’s young. There’s going to be other opportunities. I’m just going to let it slide. And the mother and the daughter went off on their day and they did whatever. And I went back to my car and I broke down and I went back to my friend. And we went to our local grocery store and we’re stood beside the bananas.
And I was like, this is what I’m just have to do. I just had to blurt out. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like I was [00:28:00] having an intervention or like, this is what you do. I just blurted out because I was like, Oh, like I need to like, I need to tell someone and, the relationship we had, he just made fun of me, but that was our bond and we went back to the house and we had some chocolate and then we started talking.
his reaction to it was so pivotal because, he made me feel like you’re going to be okay. , let’s not go into panic mode right now. You’re here. You’ve told me you’ve held yourself accountable. let’s sit down and talk about it. And that’s what we did.
And it was his. Intervention where he was like, you need to just go back to training, go back to sport, do something that you love to do. And sport was always that sport was always this magical place where. You know, 20 minutes down the line. didn’t exist. It was here. And now what I was doing, my set in front of me, my rep in front of me, the exercise I was doing, that’s all I had to worry about.
And, it wasn’t a straightforward path to getting back into sports, but you know, once a week. Yeah, okay, I will give that a go and I did it. And then, you know, I, I eventually moved it up to two or three and then I was hanging out in a group of people who said, Hey, you should return to track and field, try a fun race, like a Christmas race or something like that.
, just as a goal, they didn’t know what was going on, but they just wanted to see me back , in training again and in competition. And I did it. And it was just this like positive goal to work towards. And I remember I had a playlist on my phone and it would play over my computer randomly.
And one of the songs that would be on the, playlist, I would play in the gym came on and I was like, Ooh, I’m excited. I want to go to the gym. And I remember that being the first time that I. Ford, I was like, I want to do, or I’m looking forward to doing. And I was just like a little thing in my head where I like take the box almost.
I’m like, Ooh, that feels a bit more like me. And, um, I just carried it from there. I went to that random race and guess who was there? The president of the Irish Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, who happens to come [00:30:00] over from the UK just to watch one of his triple jumpers and I mean, we said serendipity at the start of this call, but that is literally it like that is.
What I went through, I like, so many things that needed to be perfect for that moment to happen. And, I saw the opportunity ahead of me and I went with it. And, here I am now, dealing with, the quote unquote problems that I’m dealing with, but you know, not really problems. It’s just, they’re just obstacles.
Okay. I want to go
[00:30:28] Alison: back to the asthma and the hand injury, but put a pin in that because I want to ask, you know, obviously mental health is not a, you know, you had this one. Very dramatic moment. Like you said, it’s not a straight path. So, on those nights, and please, don’t answer if you’re not comfortable, on those nights when you can’t sleep, like all of us have, do you ever get that panic, you’re like, Oh, I’m heading down.
does it ever feel like you can see it again?
[00:30:54] Brendan Doyle: obviously I am a huge fan and an advocate of therapy, even if there’s nothing going on, I believe everyone should be able to sit down, have a chat and be like, cool. We’re still good. Like it’s just a little check in.
One of the things that stuck with me from a therapy session that I had. Was, I had been given a gift of knowing my limits. So he used the analogy of, swimming away from the shoreline. And if you just swim and swim and swim and you turn around, you’re like, Oh, bugger, I can’t swim back. I’m too far. That’s essentially what happens when, when people are in a situation and they don’t know their limits and they start getting stressed and burnt out and things start collapsing, but they don’t recognize, they just see the.
They see the stress, but they don’t know the cause. and he said to me, like, you’ve been given this gift of knowing your limits and you can recognize sooner when things are starting to get a little bit hairy. So he said to me, it’s like, you’re swimming now and you just keep checking over your shoulder just to make sure that shoreline is still in reach.
And, you know, I’ve had. Really tough times, you know, [00:32:00] missing out at the Olympics sucked and like worrying about funding sucks. And like every single year I do this sport, I think it’s my last year because I just don’t know if or how or where the money’s coming from. I have the gift of knowing that like bad days happen and you can be sad sometimes and you can have a bad night’s sleep.
And that doesn’t mean the world is falling down around you. It just means you’re human and you’re having bad nights. so I look back at everything I’ve been through and , it’s made me stronger. It’s made me, it’s made me more capable. and you know, I, never, like, I don’t worry about sleep anymore.
I don’t worry about things as much anymore. If I have a bad one, I recognize it. I’ll take the next day of training off or light or whatever. , and if it keeps happening, then I’m straight on to a therapist or whoever it needs to be to say, Hey, just checking in here, things are getting a little bit ropey, am I good?
but yeah, it’s a gift, honestly.
[00:32:51] Alison: Okay, so this is how I know you’re Irish, you’re an asthmatic and you had a severe hand injury. So you pick a sport that puts you in the cold, which is an asthma trigger for a lot of people. At altitude. And that requires incredible hand strength. Yeah. So let, talk about how that works for you.
[00:33:11] Brendan Doyle: And it’s funny because like, for me personally, at the end of all of this, my whole goal is just to show people. But there’s always hope. It’s just a matter of time. You just have to find what works for you. So , I genuinely believed it was hopeless, absolutely hopeless. And now like competing in this objectively crazy sport headfirst down a nice shoot at like 145 kilometers an hour.
It’s objectively just insane. I have the mental capacity to deal with it. I have the strength, the inner strength to deal with it. And that’s come from, , my past , and how I feel I can, I can manage things. I don’t know if I’m just like, if I like a challenge, it’s kind of seems like I do.
, like they call us a fight in Irish for a reason, but it’s, yeah, I just, I just love , how [00:34:00] it, I’ve gone from one end of this like really, really tough human situation into this other kind of like side of humanity where we see people like fighting for greatness and pushing yourself and being a.
student of your craft. And I just love how it all works together. So, I still, as I said, I still don’t, I don’t want to take the time to think about what I do because I might freak myself out a little bit, but , I just, every, every single, like, obstacle, I come, I come up with, I just find a way around it and I just try to figure it out the best I can and that’s trial and error really.
[00:34:33] Jill: with the hand injury, How does it affect? Your start, because that’s really, you need the hands on the start a lot.
[00:34:41] Brendan Doyle: Yeah, I mean, so I’m lucky I’m, I’m left handed and it happened to my right hand.
So, I mean, there’s the ligament there. I can’t straighten that. And then all along here, that’s all numb. So it’s all numb to date. so it, it affects a lot of like training, lifting, and funnily enough, putting gloves on is an absolute pain. I can’t do it quickly. I need a solid 10 minutes just to get this finger into a glove.
It is what it is. I’ve adjusted to it now. I have been offered like a surgery to fix it, but they want, tendon and ligaments and stuff for my hamstring. And I’m a 38 year old athlete. I don’t want them touching me at all. So I don’t even want to let a tough breeze touch my hamstrings let alone. slicing off some ligament.
So, it’s just something that I’ve, I don’t really think about it anymore because the stuff I do in the gym, I’ve adapted, I use straps. figure out different ways to do things. And then there’s just things I just can’t really do anymore, which is fine. I find other ways to work around that, like thing I can’t do.
and then for the actual pushing, I’m a left handed. So I, push with my left hand. I lift with my left hand. So kind of got lucky there.
[00:35:45] Alison: As if I couldn’t love you anymore, because now we’re together with our
[00:35:48] Brendan Doyle: left handedness. Yes.
Kit Oaks is what they’re called in Irish. Oh, yikes. There you go. There’s a bit of Irish.
[00:35:57] Jill: Okay. Let’s [00:36:00] talk about just missing out on the Olympics. And Pyeongchang was a point, which had to be frustrating.
He’s trying not to swear. I can see that in
[00:36:13] Brendan Doyle: his eyes. I’m Irish.
[00:36:16] Jill: Beijing, now we’re going to couch this in, just a few weeks ago we talked with somebody about gender equity, a professor, and the way that gender equity is happening isn’t necessarily giving places to women, it is taking places from men to give to women.
So is that what happened in Beijing?
[00:36:35] Brendan Doyle: Yeah. So PyeongChang second, my second season, I still learning the ropes and it’s something that I can take on the chin, digest, accept, you know, we had a continental rule spot for that Olympics, which has since been removed. So there was, there was an athlete awarded a spot, literally regardless of their finishing or where they came or how many race they just had to do five races.
that was their qualification mark, where I had to qualify with points. It is what it is. It was a rule and it’s been changed. So I just took that on the chin. I love the sport too much , to let PyeongChang get at me. But, but Beijing was such a different environment because I rose to the occasion.
I finished 42nd in the world. I put in some phenomenal races. Like I was out of my skin in some places. And then, you know, I go to Altenburg, a track I’ve never been to, quite a difficult track, and I put down some good runs and, I was proud of how I held myself as an athlete and the execution level was, you know, Olympic level.
it was there. And then the rule change was something that was so soul crushing to me. and again, I don’t think there’s a person on this planet who doesn’t think there should be a equal opportunity for everybody. I, it doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter what, who you are or what you do.
If you’ve made the decision to Rise above your own obstacles and compete for your country. You should have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. but it just, it just [00:38:00] feels like the execution of that in, in 2022 was just a little off. It was a balanced. Uh, Excel sheets, but I don’t think it was a balanced like start sheet.
and the proportionality between men and women, there’s just more men in the sport and women is growing, but you know, every single year, I looked at the numbers and every single year it was plus or minus a percent in terms of proportionality. there was a year, I think it was 2018 actually, where it was like.
12 percent of the female population slid while it was 8 percent of the men. But then this year it was 25 percent of the female startlists got to the Olympic games. and I finished 42nd, it was phenomenal finish. And they had to then for the women’s side of things, they had to not only take in more, but they couldn’t fill the spots with the criteria.
So they had to open the criteria on top of that and let people who. Finished outside of that criteria gain a spot again, really tough, really, really hard pill to swallow. I’m just a small single sided nation and it was something that I just had to absorb. Beijing was a tough year for me. we were in the, courts of, sport arbitration, literally right up.
I flew home to Ireland to get. My Olympic kit sent to my house to try it on to see if I go, um, I’ll never forget that moment because I was heartbreaking because we all have that like dream of getting your Olympic kit and you see it on social media where everyone has a little event and you get your ticket and you can say I’m going but like mine was like, we don’t know and we have to presume you’re going but don’t expect it so I was like, They’re like, you just try on the jacket to make sure it’s the right size for you.
And we’re like, I was, it was the last minute and that was, it was really tough because I genuinely felt I represented myself, my country to a high, high level. And it just, I feel on the air, I was just the wrong gender. , but [00:40:00] again, I believe that in the long runs. just as athletes make mistakes, I feel that, NOCs and IOCs and whoever maybe can make mistakes too, but it’s, it’s their willingness to, recognize maybe the rule wasn’t as, perfect as we want it to be and how can we improve it going forward just to protect.
Athletes who have, I don’t know, maybe put their life on hold for 10 years to represent the country. And then this new rule comes in any other year, I’d be an Olympian right now. Any other year, 42nd would have got me well, well within qualification standards. Like I could have taken off the last race and still went.
[00:40:35] Jill: Is it set in stone for 2026, the rules or not, not yet?
[00:40:40] Brendan Doyle: so with the IBSF, we’ve actually undergone, I’ve seen some change in terms of participation. So for the first time ever, , what would have to happen is obviously you want your workup spot, right? So you want your workup spot to get yourself the maximum opportunity for race selection.
You know what the IBSF, which is the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, what they’ve done is they’ve changed the rules. So, , last year, obviously this year, this season, I have my World Cup spot and what they’ve done now is if you have your World Cup spot this year, you have that all the way to Italy.
You don’t have to re qualify, , you’ve no idea. It is like. It is such a relief when I read that rule, I was like, this has got to be false because I’ve never had a rule work out in my favor, but it’s true and it’s, it’s there and it’s, it’s good. So now the way to get into the Olympics in skeleton.
Is you need your World Cup spot and then you race World Cup and only the points that you get in World Cup are the points that are counted for the Olympics. So what happened in years prior, you had continental clubs like the North Americas or the European Cup, and then something called the intercontinental club, the intercontinental club, in my eyes is it was very, very competitive.
Like, you know, we have Germany, Germany have a million sliders, all fantastic, all sliding since they’re two years old. and they would have three World Cup spots, but then [00:42:00] the next two guys are just as good, but they don’t quite make the team. They’re in ICC and they’re the guys that I’m racing against.
, it was a really, really good competition, good points and a good route to the Olympics. But the problem is. you could have sliders who are World Cup, World Cup for years, phenomenal sliders, but they dropped down into the other events. So they dropped down into the North America’s Cup, which if you’re looking in terms of qualification, you finish outside the top four, you’re gone.
The points drop off and then in the ICC, they’re falling down again. So it’s putting a smaller nations kind of like, like just boom, boom, boom down the list, unless you have like a worldly competition and they have a bad day, then you might gain a spot, but. It made it tougher. So I think this rule now is a little bit better because if you want my spot, you have to come and take it from me.
You have to race me. And if you beat me on the race, well, guess what? You bet me and you’re better. And I could shake your hand and I can like not complain because racing is racing. There’s no sure things. and. To me, it just feels like a little bit more of an honest way to get the best people for the position because they all have to race each other.
There’s no jumping around from track to track and there’s no sticking on this circuit or going to here or going to there. it’s just people racing and much like in Formula One or IndyCar, there’s . Different packs of racing. So there’s the guys who are fighting for medals and then there’s the middle of the pack and then there’s the smaller nation guys who are like trying to get like into the final run or trying to get that maybe top 15 or something like that.
That’s where the racing is going to be for me. I’m never gonna like walk in and I don’t think it’s me looking down upon myself, but I’m not looking in thinking metal, right? Like I, I know where I am in the world. having those races where you’re like, you know, on the heels of those guys in those teams who should be way ahead of you, like.
That’s where I’m going in for. And, with these new rules, I feel that it’s going to be a more honest, start list in 2026. And with that, I think what they’re trying to do to actually answer your question, is they’re trying to get more participation [00:44:00] numbers in World Cup and more participation numbers in World Cup means more participation numbers in the Olympic games.
Which I’m obviously here for because that would make the Olympics something that’s achievable again. , so I’m excited to see it’s a lot of change. , there’s a lot of, old ways of qualifying are gone. so we have to adapt and try to overcome, but I feel like. Regardless, win, lose or draw, , it will be a lot more of an honest, , start list in 2026 in terms of who’s there and who didn’t, if you just, if you didn’t make it, that’s racing.
[00:44:31] Jill: because you’re self funded and you choose your races, cause you have to figure out where you can afford to go to, does having the Yangcheng track now in the mix make it difficult? Because that’s an expensive trip if you chose to go to that one.
[00:44:49] Brendan Doyle: And the problem is, you don’t really get a choice because there’s only eight races Olympic year.
There’s only eight World Cup races there. That’s all you’ve got. So if they put China on the list, you’re going to China. If they put Seagull on the list, you’re going to Seagull. If you’re going to Pyeongchang, you’re going to Pyeongchang. There’s no options anymore. It used to be like, oh, well, you know, there’s a North America’s cup in Whistler followed the week later by an intercontinental cup in Whistler.
So you’ve got two, four, five race, six races there. sorry, eight races there alone. Two, two races in each, and then like, you go on to other tracks depending on what you can afford, but now it’s just like, , whatever they choose, which I hope take our bank account into consideration because Olympic year in of itself is like all hands on deck.
It’s money. It’s expensive. sport is expensive. Like, I mean, even a light season is going to cost you in around 15, 20, 000. That’s me selling, like, I don’t have savings. I don’t have anything like that. And, I just hope that when they make a race selection for the Olympic year, they take into consideration the [00:46:00] smaller, smaller budgets because everyone’s there for like everyone, everyone is there for the small nations.
Right. That’s what makes the Olympics so amazing. Like cool. Germany gets another medal. Cool. Like we see an American on the podium. We’re all used to that, but where did like. This kid finished and where did that, like, why is there an Australian here? Or like, there’s an Irish guy doing skeleton. Like, did he get lost?
That kind of stuff. Like, that’s what we’re all there for. so I hope they take that into consideration, but you know, you just have to wait and see. Well, speaking of getting
[00:46:29] Jill: lost, if you had gone to Beijing, you might still be stuck there. We almost got stuck in. The sliding track area. It was a bad scene and it’s freezing cold.
[00:46:40] Brendan Doyle: The track looks phenomenal though. It does look, it is phenomenal. The architecture looks amazing. And all the sliders are just like, it’s so much fun. it looks amazing. but you know, I was meant to be going to, to China this year. I was meant to be heading off for a World Cup now, but too expensive. So, Lake Placid it is.
[00:46:58] Alison: Speaking of choosing races, we know now that Milan Cortina sliding is going to be somewhere. Somewhere.
[00:47:06] Brendan Doyle: Put in your vote. Okay.
[00:47:09] Alison: Cause I know, cause you and I have the deciding
[00:47:11] Brendan Doyle: vote here. Oh, it’s down to us. Oh, snap. Uh, all right. Let me, let me call the lads back in Ireland and see if we can bring up a track real quick cause that’d be, of fun.
I think so. Oh, where would I want it to be? Picturesque, I, St. Moritz. St. Moritz is a clear and obvious choice. , it’s beautiful, it’s naturally made, you go under a bridge, you can’t hear it, like you can hear people talk , when you’re on the track, you can hear everything. Normally it’s just like, Your head’s in the washing machine and it’s like, like you can’t hear anything.
, but in St. Moritz, it’s, you’re sliding on silk. the track is kind to our brains. It doesn’t really hurt too much. Like you can think after sliding. , and it’s fun. It’s so much fun to slide. It’s a long track as well. You still hit 130 odd kilometers an hour. , and then the start [00:48:00] list is so like important because every other track in the world.
, the first few sleds off and the fastest, and then the track grades, just because people melt it with the runners and stuff with St. Moritz, because it’s natural, it’s a little different and it gets slicker. So in the afternoon, the later on , in the event, you have like this opportunity to like have a faster track and you’re like almost at an advantage.
So you could jump people in front of you, which makes for great racing, right? Like the guy at the bottom of the list. Suddenly overtakes middle of the pack and you’re like, oh wow, you’ve. Did well, that’s awesome. So like, it’s cool. I love the unpredictability of, that race, but on the other hand, because it’s, it’s a natural track, we were at world champs last year and they had real issues actually keeping the track and getting it open in time.
And, there was teams who are going out. Before it would have been in around the same time as when the Olympics is that like February March period and it was too hot to run sleds. So I feel that maybe the unpredictability of whether or not we’ll have ice could be a major. Talking point, because we’ve already facing a situation where the home crowd can’t make a track, and then we turn to this other track and they’re like, Hmm, we don’t know if we can get ice.
It’d be a, a big l. what other track? Linberg just sucks, man. It just , it’s a fun track and like, whatever, like it’s, it’s a fun sliding track, but man, like it’s just, it’s just gray and it’s just dull. And then like, Eagles is like the most. Dull, like Eagles is fun, but like, it’s slow. It’s like, it’s a pedestrian track.
It’s where everyone learns how to slide. And the outrun sucks because it just like, does this weird, like you’re hitting a wall at the very end, like the whole track you’re just gliding. And then all of a sudden it just feels like they made a 90 degree wall for you to destroy your right shoulder on.
And you know, cool. So I don’t, and then like, you’ve got Leplan in France.[00:50:00] Super high G track, like, super duper like, just like. Your head is pitted and I like those kind of tracks, but, um, I know if I’m putting in my vote, man, I’m, I’m just gonna have to be an emotional human being and say St. Moritz just for the pure love and spectacle.
And yeah, like you’ve gotten an Olympics at a natural track. How cool is that?
[00:50:20] Alison: What can people who are listening to this and who want to support you and other small nation athletes, what can we do?
[00:50:28] Brendan Doyle: following and following on social media is, is quite big because it gives us leverage when we’re trying to speak to sponsors.
it’s tough for me, because It feels like it means nothing, but like when you have that support, it does help when you’re abroad. and then like myself, like I have my own website. I, I accept donations. I do what I can do to get by. So like, you know, you can go on to all of my social handles, at facedoilslidenirish.
com, you can just reach out and even say, Hey. I heard your podcast and to me personally, like that’s the bigger thing. That’s what sports is all about is, is making the connections and helping people. So that’s what I’ll always remember when I finish up and when I retire is, the conversations that I’ve had with people and the connections I’ve made.
So like that actually does help. As I said earlier on, you’re kind of in a, in a war on your own. So when you get those people reaching out, it does help.
[00:51:21] Jill: Excellent. Well, Brendan, thank you so much for joining us and we’ll be. Watching the end of the season and the next, and the
[00:51:28] Brendan Doyle: next few next three. Appreciate for having me on. It’s always great to talk by sports.
not a lot of people know about it. And once you experience it, once you see it, you like, they’ll probably fall in love, , like I did. So I appreciate you guys chatting with me.
[00:51:44] Jill: Excellent. Thank you so much, Brendan. You can follow Brendan on Twitter or X and Instagram. He is Face Doyle there and his website is slidingirish. com. He’s also started a non profit called Build Through [00:52:00] Sports and its goals are to highlight the character building aspects of sport and how taking up sport at a younger age can build a lot of positive attributes That can contribute to success in all aspects of life, and then fund sports, allowing more people to participate and fund athletes who are living examples of the organization’s mission statement.
You can find out more at buildthroughsport. org, website currently not live, but if you’re listening to this much later, it may very well be live so you can check it out. That is buildthroughsport. org.
Speaking of building, how’s the Kickstarter going? We got a Kickstarter.
[00:52:35] Alison: We are currently 12 percent funded, so we’ve got some work to do. And in an ordinary month, we produce about four episodes of the podcast, but during the Olympics and Paralympics, we will be producing, not to scare you, 34 daily episodes and at least two weekly episodes.
It’s a lot for a very short period of time and that kind of production schedule gets very expensive and we know that you love the daily recaps during the games and this time around both Jill and I will be there the whole time getting you the stories that you can’t find on the major broadcasters and your support makes this all possible.
So we have some great incentives on the Kickstarters and some fun giveaways at all levels and you can check it out. Thank you. You can go to our website, flamealivepod. com and click on one of my very cool four panel Kickstarter links.
Seoul 1988 History Moment
[00:53:32] Jill: That sound means it’s time for our history moment. All year long, we’ve been looking at Soul 1988 as it is the 35th anniversary of those games. Alison, it is your turn for a story.
[00:53:43] Alison: What do you got? I got in trouble a little bit with Brendan when I was talking about Ireland at the Olympics and I’m like, Oh, Ireland doesn’t have a lot of medals.
So I wanted to talk about Ireland at the Seoul Olympics. Okay. I’m not sure it’s going to do me any favors, but this was Ireland’s 14th [00:54:00] appearance as its own team in the summer Olympics from 1924 forward, 61 athletes competed in 12 sports. Ireland didn’t win any medals in Seoul. However, They did make a few statements that come back later on.
Terry McHugh competed in Men’s Javelin. He won 21 consecutive national titles, and he still holds the Irish record. Whoa. And he competed at six Olympics in tooting, including two winter games where he was involved in bobsleigh.
[00:54:34] Jill: Wow. Is
[00:54:36] Alison: some history of bobsled in Ireland, Wayne pocket rocket McCullough lost in the third round of the light flyweight boxing, but he returned in 1992 and won the silver medal.
Oh, good for him. He was also the first fighter from Northern Ireland to hold a professional title. And that was the WBC bantamweight championship. So was also the Olympic debut. Of swimmer, Michelle Smith.
[00:55:04] Jill: Oh,
[00:55:04] Alison: so she competed in three events and did not make it out of the heats. And unfortunately Smith became probably the most infamous Irish Olympian in 1996 when her four medals were clouded by serious accusations of doping.
They were never proved. She was not stripped of her medals. However, she was banned for four years, which essentially ended her amateur career for tampering with her urine sample. using alcohol.
[00:55:34] Jill: Hmm. Sounds like maybe something we talked about in the dirtiest race in the world, when just random person showed up with some beer at the testing room in Seoul.
And poured a little
[00:55:48] Alison: into the cup.
[00:55:51] Alison: Welcome to
[00:55:58] Jill: [00:56:00] Shookflastan. It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests of the show and listeners who make up our citizenship of Shookflastan. Uh, Panem Games. They’re over
[00:56:12] Alison: party in Santiago for Shooklaston.
[00:56:16] Jill: Wow.
[00:56:18] Alison: Deanna Price won gold in hammer throw. Jordan Gray won bronze in heptathlon. Erin Jackson won gold in 500 meter and bronze in 200 meter inline speed skating. Tom Scott won his third consecutive gold. In under 75, uh, kilogram Kumite karate, Sonny, uh, Sonny Choi won gold in breaking, which qualifies her for Paris and sailor, Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea won bronze in the 49 F XR.
[00:56:50] Jill: Wow. That is quite the haul for Shook Fliston. Well done team. we are very proud of you and hope you all had a good time. I know I saw some of Deanna’s posts on Instagram. She’s just over the moon of how well she did.
[00:57:07] Alison: And we know someone else who’s been having fun in Santiago was listener Nicholas, who’s been posting some
[00:57:14] Jill: amazing stuff from down there.
Right? uh, Nicholas, if you don’t know, runs the blog, Olympic rings and other things. And he was able to get a media accreditation for her. The Pan Am games and went down for part of it and just had an amazing time. So look for posts on stories about that from Nicholas on his blog, the pair of pan American games are starting soon. They kick off on Friday, November 17th and boccia player, Alison Levine and wheelchair rugby star Chuck Aoki will be there.
Paris 2024 Update
[00:57:46] Jill: A little bit of news from Paris, 2024. We are getting more word of hospitality houses.[00:58:00] , the Lotto Belgium house, they announced the sale the 3rd of November and they went on sale the 4th of November. So we’ll have the link to that in the show notes also.
Team GB house will be open to the public for the first time. The house is located at Pavilion de Armandville in Bois de Boulogne, Paris’s second largest park. Tickets went on sale November 7th. , these are expensive, I will tell you.
[00:58:28] Alison: I think it started at a hundred and fifty pounds.
Yes. That’s where they
[00:58:31] Jill: start. Yes. So they have, , gold, silver and bronze tiers. And like you said, bronze is a hundred fifty pounds, silver, two hundred seventy pounds and gold is four hundred thirty five pounds, any level gets you evening access to the team GB house. It sounds like it’s only going to be open to the public from seven to 11 p.
- And they have like O and B and meet and greets food, beer and wine. Soft drinks. Not every level. We’ll get that stuff. , but there’s gonna be live entertainment and you can watch the feeds there and celebrate with team GB athletes in person. So we will have a link to that in the show notes as well.
, Nielsen’s Grace note. Has done another update on its virtual metal table forecast. This is always interesting that they do this
[00:59:20] Alison: and we were not convinced last time. Because these came out a few months ago. Am I right?
[00:59:26] Jill: Yeah, this, this came out in the summer and it’s now getting updated monthly depending on, , results at different events.
So, , I’m not sure when like the Pan Am game medals will hit this , forecast, but, , right now their analysis does not include Russia and Belarus and, , they are predicting USA to win 127 medals, China coming in second at 75, Great Britain, 65, Japan, 56, and France getting 53 to round out the top five, countries.
we will see how this [01:00:00] works because I’m sure not having some countries in the mix is Kind of wreaking havoc with their predictions.
[01:00:07] Alison: Right. Because if you take. Russia out, you know, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, track and field. It’s definitely going to skew the numbers pretty
[01:00:19] Jill: Right. And, Shukla Stani, Bill Mallon said on X that 127 medals would be the most ever for the USA, except for 1904 and 1984, which were both home Olympics that had a decreased number of international entrants.
So in 2020, the U. S. got 113 medals, he said. So it’ll, it’ll be interesting to see if these predictions do pan out. We will definitely keep an eye on it though.
Milan-Cortina 2026 Update
[01:00:46] Jill: Buongiorno. You sound so happy. I don’t know why you’re so happy in Italian, because boy, they keep trying. They keep trying with the sliding track in Italy.
[01:01:01] Alison: I was trying to bring a little positivity to the crummy news for Italy
[01:01:06] Jill: on this one. So Italy, of course, the bobsled track saga, , keeps going on. , this is another telenovela.
[01:01:17] Alison: but Baba novella sounds just, I’ll have to find out what the equivalent is in Italian.
[01:01:24] Jill: Yeah. So, in the latest, , episode of the novella, Italy has come back again with, yes, we could host sliding in our country. We can fix up the track from Torino 2006, which, , is.
In really bad shape. It was not well constructed to begin with and it, , went out of commission. By 2012, 6 years, just 6 years. And there’s a lot of bobsled. That goes on in Europe, , a lot of competitions that would not have been difficult, I think, to put this track [01:02:00] in the rotation for the sliding, , sports schedule, but, , there was no legacy plan apparently, and they just couldn’t maintain it and it wasn’t well constructed in the first place.
So now Italy has said, no, we can, . Bring that one back, and we can have sledding here.
[01:02:19] Alison: You know, I saw a lot of reports of Giovanni Malagao, who is the president of CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee, saying, no, no, no, we’re going to have it in Italy. We have to have it in Italy. But he kind of forgot that.
The tracks in Italy, one, don’t work and nobody wants to build one. Right. They tried. They tried. They put it out for bid and nobody
[01:02:41] Jill: bid. Right. And granted, renovating Sassana would cost less than rebuilding the track at Cortina, which was the original plan, but it’s still going to cost tens of millions of euros, according to the CBC.
[01:02:57] Alison: And won’t be ready in time for a test event, probably. And when you don’t have a test event in something like sliding, that’s how you end up with sliders getting really seriously hurt.
[01:03:09] Jill: Right. Right. And, the IOC basically said, no, you are not going to do that. And you know what? We wouldn’t have this problem, IOC, if you hadn’t picked Milan Cortina in the first place.
Let’s, we can always go back to that. If you had gone with the regional plan out of Stockholm, which would have used the track in Latvia, we would have been not having these conversations and not going around and around about this.
[01:03:37] Alison: and that bid set up this whole idea of the regional games where you’re using multiple countries, which is what they’re talking about for 2030 as well.
[01:03:48] Jill: So I hope Milan gets its act together and just picks another track. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it happen, but it’s frustrating to me, I think. I agree.
[01:03:58] Alison: This is [01:04:00] infuriating and upsetting for the sliders. They deserve
[01:04:02] Jill: better. Exactly. So we’ll see what happens on this front.
And, uh, what track we end up having sliding sports at. Maybe, maybe we’ll end up back in China. Because I hope we have sliding sports at this point. But they should be able to make that happen for sure. So, just where it’s going to be, who knows? we’ll see. Hopefully Brendan will know at some point where he’s going to slide.
Because we hope he’s making it.
[01:04:31] Alison: Oh, he is. I’m just going to put that out and manifest it. Okay.
[01:04:34] Jill: Okay. Well, while you do that, we’ll take a break for this week. , let us know what you thought of our interview with Brendan Doyle.
[01:04:42] Alison: You can connect with us on X and Instagram at flamealivepod. Email us at flamealivepod at gmail.
com. Call or text us at 2 0 8 3 That’s 2 0 8 flame it. Be sure to join the keep the flame alive podcast group on Facebook and don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episode and to check out our Kickstarter campaign. And you can check both of those out at our website, flamealivepod.com.
[01:05:16] Jill: Next week, we have got a great interview for you. It is with author Aime Alley Card about her new book called The Tigerbelles, which is about the early days of the legendary women’s athletics team from Tennessee state that spawned a number of Olympians. And you know, if you got tiger bells, we’re lined up for that.
So be sure to tune in next week. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time. Keep the flame alive.