We’re thrilled to have sports commentator Olly Hogben on the show this week. During Tokyo 2020 coverage, Olly became one of our favorite OBS commentators–and they don’t announce themselves on the feed, so our TKFLASTANIs had to do some digging to figure this out!
Olly talks with us about how he switched careers from teaching to commentating, how to work with a co-commentator, and what being at an event in person does to enhance the viewer experience.
Olly’s a great follow on social media! Check him out on Twitter and Insta, and you can learn more about him at his website.
In our Seoul 1988 history moment, Alison starts looking into the gymnastics competition. Remember when there were compulsory exercises?! Well, the United States ran into issues when a little-known rule got applied to Kelly Garrison-Steves’ uneven bars routine. See if you notice the issue here:
How did that affect the Americans’ chances of getting on the podium? We’ve got the results. And this Phoebe Mills bronze-winning routine:
In our visit to TKFLASTAN, we have news from:
- Beach volleyball player Kelly Cheng
- Bobsledder Josh Williamson — are you going to Bobsled Fantasy Camp?
- Boxer Ginny Fuchs
- Olympic legend Marnie McBean
- Curler John Shuster, who’s competing at the BKT Tires & OK Tires World Men’s Curling Championship
The International Olympic Committee Executive Board met this week, so we look at their framework for allowing individual athletes holding Russian and Belarusian passports back into international competition and what it really means.
Also, the International Boxing Federation continues to poke the bear–do we think there will still be a boxing tournament at Paris 2024?
Plus, we have a special announcement regarding Paris 2024!
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Olly Hogben.
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 Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.
Olly Hogben on Sports Commentary (Episode 280)
[00:00:00]] [Opening music]
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four 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’m your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown.
Alison. Hello, how are you?
[00:00:48] Alison: Hello. I feel a bit like I’m in the middle of Stodd de France because there’s construction happening around me. So I do apologize to the listeners if you hear a little song, a little hammering, some staples going in. Just, it’s like being in Paris right now, right?
[00:01:04] Jill: A lot of beautification going on,
[00:01:06] Alison: a lot of beautification and reconstruction and temporary stands being built so people can come and watch me do the show
and sit amongst the chaos .
[00:01:18] Jill: All right, well, that, that will be exit. Today we are talking with sports commentator Olly Hogben, who we know through his work at the Olympics and Paralympics. He’s commentated at the Rio Games, the Tokyo, both the Olympic, the and the Paralympics, and at the Beijing Olympics among other major sporting events.
He’s one of our favorite commentators, and many listeners, you would love him as well. So we were thrilled that he sat down and talked with us. We talked for a long time, . So this is a first part of our interview with Olly, and we talked with him about how he moved from being a teacher into commentating, working with co commentators and commentating at an event versus commentating at it from the studio.
Take a listen.
Olly Hogben Interview
[00:02:02] Alison: So Olly Hogben, thank you so much for joining us. We’re so excited to talk
[00:02:06] Olly Hogben: to you. It’s an absolute pleasure. Alison and Jill, thank you so much for having me on the show.
[00:02:12] Alison: So, Commentating was not your first career, was not kind of your career path. how did this happen to you, ?
[00:02:20] Olly Hogben: Yes, it was very much a second career for me.
I had always wanted to be a teacher, and that’s what I did straight from university. I I left Warwick University, I, I studied English and theater, left there and went off to a small convent school in Shire near London. Taught there for a year, then spent seven years at a, a wonderful girl’s school near Oxford and finished off my teaching career with four years as assistant headmaster of a girl’s school in South London.
That. A job that I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have done. I, I loved being a teacher. It was an incredible job. At the same time when I was a child, I’d always had a fascination with sports commentary. I thought it was normal that everyone could remember the words of, you know, all of Kenneth Wilson Homes commentary when England won the 1966 World Cup.
You know, that they could remember what he said for all of the goals. And I, of course, I realized I was slightly odd. That actually that was not what everybody could do. And when I was a kid, my best friend Mike and I used to record cassette tapes of us commentating to fictitious football matches.
We had a little show called Olly Hogben’s Sporting World that we used to set up a camera at his dining room table. We even used to do, you might remember the days when you’d get live scores coming in on a video printer. So one of us would kneel down and type on the computer keyboard so the scores would appear while the other person was sitting in front of it as though they were reporting on live football matches.
I still have all of these cassette tapes. So it was always there as a fantasy career for me and one day for reasons. I’m still not sure, Rob, I, I’ve analyzed this, I, I, I get asked it a lot and I can’t answer it. One day Mike and I just decided to make a demo disk of us commentating some professional wrestling, which is something we both absolutely loved.
And we sent it off to a company and they gave us a job the next day. And when I see a job, there was no money involved in it because there never is when you start doing this kind of thing. But just overnight in 2011, I made the step from. A fan of sport to someone commentating pro wrestling. I never thought it would go further than that.
And indeed, for three years, I, I just did a little bit of pro wrestling commentary on the side while I was teaching. So it was, it was a rather unorthodox entry into the world of sports broadcasting .
[00:04:41] Alison: And then 2016 o b s comes into your life. how did that happen?
[00:04:46] Olly Hogben: Yes. the great mystery, I’m sure many people who listened to my commentary wonder how earth it happened.
I um, what happened to me was it actually all goes back to wrestling Greco Roman wrestling. In 2014, I [00:05:00] was asked by Eurosport if I could do some Greco Roman wrestling commentary for them. If I could basically take my pro wrestling background and, and do a bit of Greco Roman, and. In 2015, the European games happened in Baku, in Azerbaijan, and that was my first job in host broadcasting.
I was picked for the commentary team by, and I’m sure you, you will know the, great man Manola Romero. who, very sad. He was a very important person in my life and, are very saddened by his, his recent passing. He and his daughter Ursula, who’s a, a great friend and colleague of mine.
they plucked me out of nowhere, having never heard of me to do the European games. And I, I was recommended to them by a guy called John Cullen, who’s another of the great o b s commentators, does a lot of uh, martial arts. He was an elite TaeKwonDo practitioner. He recommended me to and I did the European Games.
I got Baku. I’d done two and a half hours of live television in my entire life, going out to the European Games. All of it as a co commentator for wrestling, not as actually a lead commentator. And there I was suddenly commentating wrestling. And they all, they said to me beforehand, well, what else would you like to do?
What else do you know? And I said, well, I, I, you know, I, I, my favorite sport is gymnastics. and, and I, I know racket sports very well. So I ended up doing gymnastics a little bit and, and, and some badminton. . And at the end of it, I was glad just to survive it. It was terrifying. I’d love to tell you how much fun it was, but it would be disingenuous.
I was terrified the whole time. it, it was a very high pressure job, not because of any of the, the people. It was me, the pressure I put on myself and the fear I had of being this, nobody coming into a world of all of these commentary greats. I looked around the workroom on the first day and it was, it was royalty, you know, amazing broadcasters.
And at the end of it an Australian woman called Bernie Smith, who’s one of the great sort of TV producers out there the kind of person you want in a crisis. she just came up to me and she said you’ve done really well on this job. Are you interested in doing. and I sort of looked, almost looked behind me as though I must be in the way of the conversation between, you know, her and who she was aiming to talk to.
and no, she actually wanted to ask me and she said, so I’d like to write to o b s to recommend you. And that’s something I learned very early on in television that, that the word of somebody who has years and years of experience, of course means a great deal.
And her word was good enough to get me an, an interview with O B s. They wrote to me a few weeks later and, and, and interviewed me for a position for the Rio team. I, I couldn’t believe it. I, I still can’t quite believe it. ,
[00:07:40] Jill: What is the interview process like?
[00:07:43] Olly Hogben: Not unpleasant at all. Very friendly.
It was a really nice process. The thing I felt right from the start was that I was being I, I always do. You know, I used to say it to students when I used to be in charge of university applications at, at the school, and I used to say it to them. When you go to university interviews, remember it’s a two-way process.
You are interviewing that university. As much as they’re interviewing you, you’re both looking for a happy marriage that’s going to get you through the, the duration of your undergraduate or, or postgraduate studies. And I felt that with O B S I, they wanted to introduce themselves to me. We had a really nice chat.
They basically, they were looking to see what I knew about wrestling. That’s principally why I was brought in. And they asked me about the rule changes that had happened in, in wrestling after its, You know, loss from the Olympic program in London 2012. You of course, know all about that and, and, and it’s battle to get back in.
Of course, it, it had a real identity shift as a sport, so they wanted to make sure I really had understood that. And I did understand that very well. And the reason I understood that very well is that when I’ve preparing for my first ever wrestling commentary job Greco Rome commentary job, I spent a week watching the London 2012 wrestling before realizing all the rules had changed and having to start again
So, so I knew in intimate detail how wrestling had evolved and that that was one of those rookie mistakes you, you often make as broadcasters. So yeah, they asked me a lot about that and asked me what else I, I wanted to do what other sports I would be interested in commentating. I had done some football as well at the time, and obviously I’d done my fair show of racket sports, so it was natural that I was gonna end up doing a little soccer and doing some, some racket sports.
And then I was asked if I would be interested in doing canoe slalom. And basically they said, why don’t you go away, spend a, you know, a week or two just watching it, and, and, and seeing if you think it’d be something you’d like to, to commentate. and I knew instinctively I did want to because I, I watched it.
I, it’s one of the sports I’ve always devoured at the Olympics. I love kanu slalom. It fulfills, what I think is one of the most essential criteria for a really easy to watch Olympic sport. And so I came back to ’em. So I’d love to do ka canoe slalom as well.
And, and, and that was it. They, they got me set up.
[00:09:52] Alison: So then what’s the prep? Like you’re, you’re going to the Olympics for the first time as a commentator. You have sports you’ve never [00:10:00] done before. , what does that binder look like? ?
[00:10:03] Olly Hogben: Full of really useless preparation actually. now I know how to prep for a new sport.
I, I have done so many sports now that I have got a really clear idea of how to get ready for a new sport. I look back at some of the absolute piffle that I prepared for the Olympics in Rio. I had all this stuff that was not the right kind of information. It was all this stuff on, you know, how quota places were awarded and you know, all this sort of stuff that actually, if you really need to know it, you look it up in a handbook very quickly during a break in play.
But it’s not what grabs the viewer is it, you know, you’re not sitting, watching at home going, Hmm, I wonder how they found the Oceania qualification place for this sport. what you actually want. Is the stories of the human beings. And you want to understand how to navigate your way through that sport.
What I did, most of all, I just watched loads and it’s something I still do to this day when I’m preparing for a new sport. I watch what I would call the, the multi-sport games coverage of that sport. And I watch the hardcore fans world feed coverage of the sport because I like to know how, for example, how is an Olympic commentator calling archery versus how is the archery commentator out on the world tour calling archery?
Because I think it’s really important to know the different ways. audiences are spoken to because obviously the way you commentate is really dictated by who is listening. And Olympics commentary is a very different style of commentary from, from commentary for, you know, your, your really hardcore fans.
So I, I, to go back to your questions, I, as I ramble away, yes, I did a lot of watching, a lot of note taking. And I still, do that. I think I’ve just become a little more efficient now.
[00:11:57] Jill: Besides like knowing the ins and outs of the quota A allocations, what else have you dropped from your prep?
[00:12:04] Olly Hogben: I think what I’ve dropped from my. is the encyclopedic collection I used to have of recent competition results. I used to go there with sort of all of the recent World Championship results and all of the European Championship results, and they look beautiful. Oh my goodness. I could have exhibited them in a gallery.
So, so pristine was the way I, I wrote it. And of course you don’t need it because you do that research dictated by the human beings that are there. So, you know, if you’ve got the European champion there because their names in front of you and on your biography that you’ve prepared for them, it tells you that they are the European champion.
What you don’t need is a separate five page document with all of the European championship results and all of the African championship results and so on, because you will pick out those key people actually when you have the athletes in front of you. So that’s been probably a major thing I’ve dropped from my, my preparation process plus all of the agonizing and worrying as well.
I’ve dropped that from my preparation now.
[00:13:04] Alison: You’re still English Olly .
[00:13:06] Olly Hogben: Yes. It is a, it’s a, it’s a national trade, isn’t it? .
[00:13:11] Alison: So what are the big differences when you’re saying Olympic commentary different from say, the World Cup tour commentary?
[00:13:17] Olly Hogben: I was actually um, talking to a colleague of mine who’s doing a master’s degree in um, sports broadcasting and, and, and sports television just a couple of days ago about this.
The Olympics competes with itself. I remember the days of being a fan and how I would almost become anxiety riddled by trying to watch everything. It’s one of the greatest couple of weeks of, of your life watching the Olympics. It’s fabulous. You get up in the morning. , and suddenly you become obsessed with water polo, absolutely obsessed with it.
And then sudden you go, oh God, and now I’m missing the, triathlon, which you didn’t watch before, but you must watch it because you watched a bit of it yesterday and then you’re changing the channel and suddenly you see artistic swimming and then that becomes the most important thing in your life for half an hour.
It’s wonderful. it’s like being at the, greatest buffet lunch out there. Everything is delicious. Everything means something. I remember. Somebody in the pro wrestling world rather sort of, you know, tongue in cheek saying to me, when I listed the sports I was doing at my first Olympics, they said, oh, so all the ones that nobody watches then.
And I said, I said, it amuses me you think there’s anything that nobody watches at the Olympics? , you know, because everything is devoured at the Olympics by everyone. And the thing you’ve gotta be able to do as a commentator is grab people quickly, grab ’em while they’re changing the channel. That ability to hook an audience.
And help them feel they want to continue watching that sport when the Olympics is essentially competing with itself, especially as we are now [00:15:00] in the multi-platform streaming era. We are not in the, you know, BBC one showing this BBC two showing that. And if you want, you can pop the radio on days. Now we’re in the, you can watch everything on goodness knows how many streams.
So you’ve got to, as a commentator, be able to hook people very quickly on, on something. And that means hooking a large number of people who have not actively sought out that sport but are just casually watching when I’m commentating the gymnastics World Cup events, for example. Or the, African cup of Nations qualifies football.
I’m about to go off and do that, I know will be being watched by people who’ve actively sought out that content and it’s less so the case at the Olympics, if that makes sense.
[00:15:45] Alison: No, it’s perfect sense because it’s, that goes back to when, how do you explain a sport? You know, do you explain it for someone who’s watched it or do you explain it for someone who maybe has never seen it before?
[00:15:57] Olly Hogben: And there, Alison, you have, you have hit the nail on the head with the great challenge for a sports commentator. I sometimes listen to commentators say, I’m not here to speak to the 5% that are hardcore fans. I’m here to speak to the 95% that, that are novices. And I don’t think that’s actually the way we should work.
I think we’re there to speak to everyone. And this goes back to, this is the single biggest thing I’ve taken from being a teacher into being a sports commentator. The job of a teacher is to reach every single person in the. . If you don’t do that, you’re not teaching effectively. And it might be that you’ve got somebody who is you know, and I’ve had this before.
I, I, I, I’ve had people who are absolute high level in my subject and people who are terrified of my subject. You get that when you’re drama teacher. And I was prided myself on the fact that I created an environment where everybody believed they could act. Everybody believed that theater was for them.
And I think that’s, the same principle as a sports commentator. Talk to everybody in the room. Reach everybody in the room. you’ve gotta drop in things for the hardcore fans. You’ve got to show that you respect them. , you know, you’ve gotta say anything like, and, and those of you who are watching the, whatever the name of the regular season is for that particular sport, those who’ve been watching, it’s uh, recently you’ll know very well that dot, dot dot.
And while you are talking to them, you are also giving you information to the casual fan because you are saying the thing that they, the hardcore fan knows anyway, but you’re saying it’s the hardcore fan in a way that makes them know that, you know, they know it. So you, you’ve got to have subtlety in your, your choice of language.
So you don’t alienate your viewer. I always think if you aim for the middle ground, you’ll just irritate everyone. Cuz that there’s an example I, I use with, with new commentators when I’m working. Alison, you might have a dollar in your pocket, Jill, you might have $10 in your pocket.
Now there’s no point us working out the average amount of money that you have, cuz it doesn’t tell us how much either of you has. It’s the same with the knowledge level and the experience level of your viewers. If you just try to find a median, a a middle ground, you’re gonna hit nobody because nobody’s at that middle ground level.
[00:18:06] Alison: Is that easier or harder when you’re working with another person in the booth?
[00:18:11] Olly Hogben: Much easier because you can define beforehand who’s gonna talk to who. One of the things I often say to my co commentators is, I’ll talk to the heart. You talk to the head. That often works quite nicely, but there needs to be a Venn diagram where you both have a middle ground that you can, you can safely go into together.
It’s harder when you’ve got two lead commentators and one of you has to drop into the co commentary role, which is a, a natural part of broadcasting at the Olympics because there are long shifts and it’s important to have a, a, a variety of voices on things. But certainly when you’ve got a a lead and an expert, it’s much easier to define who talks to who.
but I do always say to the expert, just make sure that you, you do drop down occasionally to novices and you jump up occasionally to hardcore fans. And, and also hardcore fans have still got stuff they can. . I think every hardcore fan will say that about a sport. There’s never a point where they know everything.
So the great moment is when you genuinely can teach a hardcore fan and something they didn’t know about the sport.
[00:19:17] Jill: When do you know you’re working with a co commentator and like, how do you prep together
[00:19:26] Olly Hogben: when it’s something like the Olympics? You’ve got plenty of advanced knowledge that you are, you are working with a, a co commentator naturally. Stuff does change from time to time. I mean, we all know that outdoor sports and, and, now that you’ve got things like surfing at the Olympics, which is just every scheduler’s worst nightmare, , you know, and you’ve got, you know, obviously the Winter Olympics can be trickier.
The Winter Olympics can involve some schedule changes because obviously weather can play habit with things, but for the most part, at something like the Olympics, you know, well in advance who your co commentator is going to be.[00:20:00] And it usually just involves a, you know, a chat in the commentary workroom, and you just, you find out a bit about them.
If you don’t know them, that is, you know, most of the time you, you know the people quite well. And usually it’s defined for you who’s going to be the lead and who’s gonna be the color. Usually it’s quite obvious. Sometimes you might just work it out yourselves if it’s something like, so I did the, a lot of the short track speed skating in Beijing, well, that’s quite easy because then you can go, well, let’s alternate races.
You know, one of us, we in the heats, we can alternate and then from the quarter finals onwards, one of us can lead, one of us can do color, and we can just jump around and, and that, that’s actually a great mental refresher because it’s really hard to just call race after race after race on your own.
I’ve done a, an event where I called 86 swimming races, in one go as lead commentator, not the Olympics. And, and it does get mentally fatiguing. So what’s nice when you’ve got a co commentator is if you can maybe jump around and, and swap things around a as as you’re going through the broadcast.
So you, you work out sort of who’s doing what and then you just start talking and you kind of get into a rhythm really. And sometimes you have signals. Sometimes you don’t need signals. Mostly just a little, getting the right seating positions important with your co commentator so that you’ve got each other in your eye line and that you can, bring each other in.
I gesticulate a lot when I talk, so it’s quite easy actually to know when to come in with me because I’ll often be saying something and, and I’ll gesture across as I finish the sentence to my co commentator. So you, you just sort of work at a natural rhythm.
[00:21:38] Jill: What is the line between. Talking too much and talking too little as a commentator.
[00:21:44] Olly Hogben: Well, I’ve crossed it already in this podcast. Um, , , we’re letting you talk. Yes. At the time, that yes, as, as again that great colleague of mine, John Cullen once said, when there there was a zoom call for all of us ahead of something with the Olympic Channel, he said, ask a commentator a question. In 25 minutes later, you’re still waiting for the answer
But , uh, , the line is when you are not respecting the fact that there are pictures and you are not respecting the fact that sound is not only produced by you. So for example, when someone is ski, Let’s let the audience listen to the sound of the snow and the sound their skis make on the snow. And let’s, let’s let people hear the scrape of Blade on Ice, or the breath of the runner because sound has become so advanced now.
Sound can paint these most beautiful pictures, and picture quality is so beautiful that, you know, we, we’ve gotta respect that. I think as a, commentator, you ha you have to remember quite simply that you are not doing radio, that there needs to be silence.
[00:22:54] Alison: Do you find it difficult to put your fan hat away when you were commentating?
Because I would be gripping my poor co commentator’s arm and doing the Rowdy Gaines version of Commentating , which I love. let’s put that out there too. .
[00:23:11] Olly Hogben: That’s a really good question, Alison. I think that you should always keep the fan side of your personality there, actually, when you’re commentating.
I think where being a fan as a commentator becomes a problem if you lose impartiality, and as a world Feed commentator, as an MDs commentator for, for the Olympics, impartiality is the starting point for everything. It is a vital, and as our production team always says to us, impartiality, neutrality does not mean not being excited.
It means being equally excited for everyone. And you can be a fan and be equally excited for everybody. What you mustn’t be is, is openly partial o on air. I think it’s important to keep some element of, of being a sports fan because, if you go into the commentary box treating this like it’s a job, which it is, then you won’t remember to smile as much.
And I always believe really strongly that people are gifting me with their time. The single most precious thing that you can ever give anyone, because it’s the one thing you never get back. They’re gifting us with their time. They’re choosing us for entertainment. They’re switching on their televisions to be with us, to be with the Olympics, to honor us with their company.
We must remember that it’s fun, that sport is fun. That sport for people is a pleasure. It’s escapism, it’s enjoyment. And if you keep a part of you as a commentator, that’s always a fan, then you will enjoy commentating.
[00:24:46] Alison: N B C here in the US has been using the O B S feeds and commentators in. The studio in Connecticut as opposed to going to events.
Tell me what you think.
[00:24:58] Olly Hogben: Well, [00:25:00] commentary, I do a lot of work from studios a lot. And sometimes when you go to the Olympics, you are actually even in the country, you’re in a studio anyway. Because for, for example, I mean, you know, when I’ve commentated things like snowball, parallel, giant slalom, there’s no point in me being there on site because I’m going to only be looking at a monitor anyway the whole time.
I actually believe that the advantages of being on site stop mostly they. 30 seconds before you go on air and they start again 30 seconds after you come off air. But once you’ve started commentating, I only look at the monitor anyway really, because it, it’s very important for me. And I was trained by some very good commentators in this.
Look at the pictures, talk to the pictures. There’s no point me talking about things that aren’t there on the screen. Now sometimes it is useful. Sometimes, yeah, a thing will happen off, off camera. That, that it’s actually useful for you to see. But the great benefits, the greatest benefits of being in venue are that you get to, and this is, this will sound daft.
You get to travel to the event and when you travel to the event, you see fans and fans remind you that this isn’t just a TV crew and some athlete. It reminds you that it’s a big sporting occasion, and one of the ones that really brought that home for me was the Youth Olympics in Buenos Airs, which was one of the most amazing atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at any sporting event.
And on every day I would walk through the Olympic Park to the swimming and gymnastics venues, and by the time I got there, I was so ready to go because the, the crowd had just fired me up like nobody’s business. And I think that ties into the other thing that’s vital about going to events is you must, as a commentator, see the, the city, the venue, you must go out and explore the landscape because that’s a, a vital part of, of being a commentator is being able to paint pictures of where the event is.
That I think you can run the risk of losing if you are solely based in a studio.
[00:27:11] Jill: Thank you so much Oie. Follow OIE on social. He is @OllyHogben on Twitter and Insta, and his website is ollyhogbn.com. We’ll have links to all of those in the show notes, and we will have the rest of Ollie’s interview on in a few episodes.
Seoul 1988 History Moment
[00:27:28] Jill: That sound means it is time for our history moment. All year long we are looking at the Seoul 1988 games as it is the 35th anniversary of those Olympics and Paralympics. Alison, it is your turn for a story. What do you have for us?
[00:27:47] Alison: I am finally getting around to gymnastics. And there’s of course, so many stories from gymnastics, but we’re gonna start with the women’s artistic competition.
And this would be the first gymnastics competition since 1976 to include all the major countries from both the east and the West after the US led boycott in 1980 and the Soviet led boycott in 1984.
So 1984 in Los Angeles was the first time the United States had won any Olympic medals in women’s artistic gymnastics most notably the all around gold by Mary Lou Retin. However, the international and gymnastics community considered these medals to be a little suspect.
A lot of people wanted to put an asterisk by those medals because the powerhouse Soviet Union was not there. They were there in 88, as were the East Germans and the Romanians. So we’ve got everybody on the world stage. So the competition featured Soviets, Elena SHUs Nova, and Svetlana Bogan Scalia, also known as the Bella Russian s.
And Romanian Daniella Silvas, who was one of the last Romanian gymnasts to train with Bella Caroli before he defected to the United States. Wow. So the American women had high hopes for proving they belonged on the Olympic podium, but we ran into some problems in the compulsory round of the team competition.
Kelly Garrison, Steves mounted the uneven parallel bars using a spring. And as is typical, somebody has to pull the springboard away. In this case, it was team alternate Rhonda Fain. Only problem was she stayed in the apparatus area, which is also called the podium. You know, the raised platform that the apparatus are on for the duration of the routine.
The East German Judge Ellen Berger invoked a seldom used rule where only one athlete from any team may be on the podium at the same time. She deducted five tenths of a point from Garrison’s score. No way. At the end of the team competition, not surprisingly, the Soviet Union won [00:30:00] gold. Romania won the silver, and East Germany won the bronze.
The US was in fourth place, three tenths of a point behind.
[00:30:11] Jill: No way. Oh man. And I forget. These are the days of compulsory exercises and like a free program basically.
[00:30:21] Alison: So the US only won one medal in women’s gymnastics in 1988, a bronze on the balance beam by Phoebe Mills, which was a tie. Oh
[00:30:34] Jill: wow.
Man, I can only imagine. Rhonda Fain felt at the
[00:30:40] Alison: time, very complicated because clearly the people do this often. Mm-hmm. , and you’ll still see now the rules have changed and you’ll see coaches spotting on uneven bars. But because it was a team member, not a coach who pulled the springboard out of the way, the East German Judd said a.
Well, I don’t know if she said aha. She, I don’t know what she would’ve said , but, and it was the difference.
[00:31:06] Jill: Wow. Wow, wow, wow.
[00:31:09] Alison: But we will have some links to some programs, including the fabulous Phoebe Mills who such a joy to, to get to watch some of those programs again with her.
[00:31:19] Jill: We’ll look for that in the show.
[00:31:30] Alison: Welcome, SHK.
[00:31:32] Jill: It is the time of the show where we travel to Shukla, our very own country for Teen, keep the flame alive. That’s past guests of the show and listeners who make up our citizenship of Shukla. What do you have first?
[00:31:47] Alison: So I have some results for Kelly Chang and partner Sarah Hughes.
They won gold in the A B V, the AVP Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in Teek, Mexico. .
[00:31:59] Jill: In other news, Josh Williamson, bobs letter will be coaching at the USA Bobsleds Bobsled Fantasy Camp. This will take place June one through four at Lake Placid, at the Olympic Training Center. So you would get to stay in the Olympic training PLA center cost, cuz this is a fundraiser for the, the program.
$6,250 a person. You get training and coaching and, and you get to hang out with. At the training center
[00:32:26] Alison: who has been posting some videos of being quite mobile and back in the gym after his hip surgery. So he seems to be covering quite well. So not only do you get Fantasy camp you can check up on Josh for us.
[00:32:37] Jill: We would appreciate that. So if you go let us know.
[00:32:40] Alison: Boxer Ginny Fukes will be fighting April 27th in Fort Worth
[00:32:45] Jill: Marnie McBean was given the 2023 Con Smith Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her contribution to Canadian sport.
Marnie received the award, the award at the Rogers Con Sports Celebrity’s Dinner and Auction in support of Easter Seals, kids
[00:33:01] Alison: and John Schuster and Team Schuster will be competing at the B K T tires and OK Tires World Men’s Curling Championships in Ottawa, Canada, April 1st through the ninth.
[00:33:13] Jill: We would like to give a special thank you to our patrons and supporters who keep our flame alive.
So if this show provides value to you, please consider supporting the show email@example.com slash support. Or please tell your friends about the show and help us find more of our people.
International Olympic Committee News
[00:33:29] Jill: The IOC executive board met this. Good times. Always a good time when the I O C board meets so a lot of press conferences that they had, you might be seeing a ton of stories about Russian and be Russian athletes being allowed to compete in international competition again. But here’s the deal. The I O C put together guidelines for international federations and sport event organizers to be able to allow individual athletes who hold a Russian or bed low Russian passport to return to competition individuals, not teams specifically called out, not teams.
What this is not, this is not a blanket. Hey, Russians and Bell Russians are competing everywhere. Some sports have allowed them to compete. Tennis is one of the big
[00:34:21] Alison: ones where, and fencing, right? Just announced.
[00:34:25] Jill: Yes, because there’s a kind of a hullabaloo over a bunch of athletes would not like to see Russian and Bella Russian athletes there.
Other sport federations have not allowed them to compete. Gymnast. Gymnast gymnastics.
[00:34:38] Alison: Gymnastics being the big. .
[00:34:40] Jill: So this is really a situation where the I O C is acting kind of like a consulting firm where federations wanted some guidelines. They put together a little framework and said, here it is.
If you want to use it, you can use it. Federations make those decisions. This is also not a decision about Paris 2024 and whether you [00:35:00] will see athletes holding Russian and Bella Russian passports. There no decision on that yet.
[00:35:06] Alison: I think maybe six months ago on the show, we said, are they go? Is the IOC gonna keep kicking the can down the road and say, not make a formal decision and leave it to the federations?
Because if they, if the federations don’t allow athletes to compete anytime this year, they’re not gonna have any quota spots. Russian athletes won’t earn any quota spots for their respective sports. So you won’t have Russian athletes there, but not because the I O C banned them. .
[00:35:37] Jill: Right. And that’s what several reporters were asking that too.
Are you just kicking the can down the road?
[00:35:44] Alison: You know, gymnastics is already running up against its deadline for the teams to be able to qualify cuz you have to qualify for next year’s for this year’s world Championships. For a team to be able to qualify and for individuals to earn quota spots. So if they don’t compete at that World Championships this year, there’s gonna be no Russian quota spots.
So are we going to have the I O C shockingly speaking out of both sides of the mouth? We’re not banning anyone. We don’t do that, but we’re just letting the federations take the heat. And let’s be honest, in the general public, that’s gonna make nobody.
[00:36:25] Jill: Right. And the general public will still think that the I O C has banned them.
[00:36:30] Alison: just, it’s the Olympics, right? Yes. Because it’s not, it’s this, this amorphous thing. Mm-hmm. . So I think they’re really treading a line where no one is going to be pleased with a decision. And wherever you stand politically, it’s gonna be used against them. Right.
[00:36:45] Jill: And it’ll be interesting to see, you know, you in the sports where they are allowed to compete.
if they earn spots into getting into the games, what happens?
[00:36:56] Alison: Do you have a delegation or, which they can’t have anyway? Mm-hmm. , because the, Russian n o c I think is still banned. Mm-hmm. is still under sanction for the doping issues. So, so many layers. So many layers and so confusing. So if, if you listeners are confus.
Yeah, because nobody, because nobody is just saying, we’re gonna do this, they’re all trying to tread this line. So nobody has to take responsibility for anything.
[00:37:27] Jill: Yeah. the federations are the ones who say, Hey, why don’t you come up with some recommendations so we can maybe figure this out. The IOC comes up with recommendations and says, it’s your decision because you run the sports.
and then are we gonna have a decision about Paris 2024? Will the decision be made for us? Who knows? and it’ll be interesting to see if the i O C does make a decision, where down the road does that come in? And
[00:37:58] Alison: also made this weird distinction with. Russian athletes would be able to compete as neutrals if they have not supported the war in Ukraine.
What does, I mean, clearly they were talking about soldiers. That’s fair. But also Russia has a draft, so a lot of these soldiers don’t choose where they go. It’s either fight or be imprisoned. And I personally would not wanna hang out in a Russian prison, not my idea of a good time.
So by not stating, are we now punishing people for not breaking their country’s laws?
[00:38:38] Jill: And how many. Athletes are in the military also because the military will fund their training. Much like we have the world class athlete program in the armed forces here in the United States. They may have some funding like that too.
So where, what, what’s that line and, and what do you allow? So it, it’s gonna be very confusing and. I’m sure there’s a lot of discussions going on in meetings at federations and, and events on what do we do
[00:39:09] Alison: here? And the idea of supporting the war. They didn’t specifically call, they did specifically, excuse me, call out soldiers, but they also left this amorphous supporting the war.
So like that Russian gymnast who wore the Z on his uniform on the podium, which was considered a pro. Russian militaristic symbol, he would be banned. So now we’re banning people for how they think, which that is a slippery slope. And again, trying to walk this line of where do we stand on Russia as an organization, and it’s very problematic.
[00:39:48] Jill: And it, it feels like, well, we really hope this war will end soon. Please let this war, Just like we would like Notre Dame to be reconstructed, but by Paris 2024, we would like this little war to [00:40:00] end. And that doesn’t
[00:40:01] Alison: even solve
[00:40:01] Jill: the problem ultimately.
No. , no, because we still have. Doping sanctions going on, and there were questions that came up, like, is there doping testing going on now? what can you trust? what do you hope?
[00:40:14] Alison: Can we just for a moment, give a pat on their back to the International Paralympic Committee who has come down and just said, guess what?
The Russian Federation is banned because they keep breaking the rules. Let’s not right. Play around
[00:40:30] Jill: anymore and, and the members did vote on that. It was a special. Session, extraordinary session of their membership and their member said, no, we, you have not been playing. Nice. We don’t want you in our club anymore.
[00:40:43] Alison: Yes. So let, let’s, we can be very critical of the I O C, but let’s give the I P C some, some credit here for taking a stand
[00:40:53] Jill: and making less work for themselves. Really
[00:40:55] Alison: and us too. My goodness, my head is spinning from this
Paris 2024 News
[00:40:59] Jill: Another question is, will boxing be at Paris 2024?
[00:41:14] Alison: Can people just do the right thing for a while?
[00:41:18] Jill: it’s once, it’s not that hard. Once again, the International Boxing Association is being feisty. You would say the. I C is still in Paris 2020 first. Well, I guess Paris 2024 really is the one who is hosting the boxing tournament at the Olympics.
And in the qualifiers, which the I O C is also running, they have invited i B A judges and officials to referee those events because obviously they need the experienced officials and. That problem with judging hopefully has been fixed
[00:41:56] Alison: by now, but the I B A said if the judges and officials participate in the tournament, that’s not run by I B A, they’re gonna get sanctioned by I B A.
[00:42:08] Jill: So what do you do? Right? this is a tough, tough line. Can the I O C run a decent. Qualifying tournament and run a decent Olympic level tournament without these judges, or are you going to have judges that will say, okay, We’re gonna test the I B A and see what they actually do.
that’s really frustrating for all parties involved. And, and the I O C has been very clear, like, look, we don’t have a problem with the sport. We don’t have a problem with the athletes. We have a problem with the management. And people keep asking, will Paris, because it, it could be taken out of the Paris Olympics the way they talked at this series.
Executive board press conferences this week. I didn’t see that happening. Because I think they don’t wanna hurt the athletes who have been training for 2024. Everybody knows it’s not on the program yet for LA 2028, and my gut is saying that’s when it will be taken off. We’re we’re done dealing with the I B A
[00:43:15] Alison: about 10 Olympics
[00:43:16] Jill: too.
Well that too . But when does the I O C move quickly? , so we will see what happens with Paris 2024 and the qualifying tournaments that are coming up, but you know who is gonna be at Paris 2024. We are, we got official notice of our accreditation this morning. So yes, as we are taping, oh my gosh, this was such a relief. So, we are so excited, so grateful to the U us O P C for giving us the accreditation and allowing us to have this kind of access again.
We are already starting to talk about how to cover these games. Both Alison and I will be there. Acting as your eyes and ears for all of you who can’t go or can’t get to the events that, that we go to that day. So please let us know what you’d like to see us cover. We’ll talk about it and have a big chain going in the Facebook group, and we’ll combine a big list and we’ll be talking over the next year plus about what it’s gonna be feasible for us to do.
There’s just two of us, but we’d like to be able to give you. content that you want to hear and see. So it’ll be our daily wrap-ups as per usual. But you know, what sports do you want us to try to get to? Do you want us to try to talk to athletes?
Do you wanna see some videos from, Paris? What? What kind of stuff do you want to, to
[00:44:39] Alison: talk about? Well, I can promise, I will report on all snack tables in every media. That I will guarantee. I will also guarantee that I will get lost in Paris despite my attempt to learn to read as much French as possible.
This is me we’re talking about. I will get [00:45:00] lost so I can promise you travel adventures and now this will be in with a lot more
[00:45:06] Jill: people involved. Right? And, and we will not promise, but we will not hold out the possibility. Of bathroom situations, as
[00:45:15] Alison: well. There’ll be B days,
[00:45:22] Jill: This
[00:45:22] Alison: is a whole other level. . Well, yes and I, and I also wanna thank the listeners because our listenership and their support proves to the U S O P C that we are a viable outlet and really helped us get the accreditation. So thank you to all of.
[00:45:38] Jill: Yes, definitely for sure. But yes, definitely let us know what you’d like us to see, what you’re interested in, what you want to know about Paris.
I am getting into a hospitality house or two. I could tell you that right now.
[00:45:50] Alison: Well, I will have my Italian passport by then, . So if there is an Italy house, they have to let me
[00:45:57] Jill: in. We can hope , we, we can hope so exciting. We’re excited for this. We’re excited to help you. Have more fun watching Paris 2024.
And that will do it for this week. Let us know about your favorite games commentators.
[00:46:15] Alison: We are at Flame Alive Pod on Insta, Twitter and Facebook, so you can DM us there. You can email us at flame alive pod gmail.com. You can call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s two. Eight flame it. Be sure to get on our Facebook group, which is Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group where we will be talking Paris 2024 and please sign up for our weekly firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:46:46] Jill: Next week we are taking a spring break from our regular show. We’ll have a gymnastics forward lightning round because I will be reporting back eventually from seeing the Magnificent seven live. And after that we’ll welcome back Ness MEK and get to meet his.
Ava Fayes for a discussion of the Docus Nest Murphy Transcending. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.