We’re hopping on a horse and riding along with Paralympian Beatrice de Lavalette on this episode of Keep the Flame Alive. Beatrice competed for Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in para dressage, finishing 5th in Individual Championship Test – Grade II – Open) and 6th in Individual Freestyle – Grade II – Open.

Originally from France, Beatrice has grown up with horses and got into dressage riding when she was 12. As a teenager, she moved with her family to Brussels, which was a tough transition, but her mare Dee Dee was her lifeline.

In 2016, Beatrice’s life changed forever as she sustained massive injuries in the Brussels airport terrorist bombing. The bomb went off a mere twelve feet from where she was, burning her skin and sending shrapnel throughout her body. As a result, she lost both of her legs.

Beatrice moved to the United States to attend the University of San Diego and continue rehabilitation treatment stemming from her injuries. As her horses had been a lifeline, she took up para dressage and has steadily become one of the top riders on the circuit.

We’ve talked about para dressage for visually impaired riders, so with Beatrice we were able to explore and better understand the sport for para classes that involve missing limbs. We also talk about choosing a horse and how they feel on competition day.

Learn more about Beatrice at her website and follow her on Instagram!

Jill recently went to her a conversation with boxer Morelle McCane, who’s qualified for Paris 2024. You can watch that discussion here (which should include a familiar voice during the Q&A):

Also, Jill will be speaking at the Lakewood Public Library on June 5, 2024 at 7pm about Cleveland’s Olympic History. Come out and see her!

In Paris 2024 news:

  • The International Boxing Association (which, if you remember, is no longer recognized by the International Olympic Committee) is going to pay all athletes (and their coaches and federations) who make it to the podium, plus also a little something for 4th and 5th places
  • Microsoft Threat Analysis Center released a report about Russian campaigns to influence the Games
  • The French Interior Ministry thwarted a planned attack on a football stadium
  • Free Opening Ceremonies tickets are being distributed
  • There will be 10 medal reallocation ceremonies at Champions Park to honor athletes whose results were changed due to doping violations. These go back to Sydney 2000
  • More museum exhibits at the Pantheon and the National Museum of Australia
Picture of the Paralympics exhibit that will be at the Pantheon, Paris in summer 2024.

Photo of the Summer 2024 Paralympics exhibit at the Pantheon. Photo by Listener Charlotte.

In news from TKFLASTAN, we hear from:

 

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

 


TRANSCRIPT

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.

343-Para Dressage with Beatrice de Lavalette

Jill: Hello and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week, we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.

Alison, hello. How are you?

Alison: Hello. I just realized something as I was listening to our intro that is going to greatly affect the events I will attend in Paris. And that is I forgot that the sneaker squeaky sound on the gym floor is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Oh, I don’t think I’ll be seeing much basketball and possibly not a lot of indoor volleyball either.

Jill: We’ll have to see. We’ll have to see what that, that share floor court is like. Maybe it’s quieter. Yeah. And that’s not really even squeaking. That’s a whistle. I had to find a better because it’s goalball. So she’s whistling quiet, please. No, at the end, that sounds. Yeah, that’s goalball. Is it? It’s a whistle and I couldn’t find a really good one quickly.

So I have to go back in and look for goalball or listeners. If you are watching goalball on repeat, please let me know where there is a good quiet, please. And I will pull it out because there were really good ones. And I just could never, like, you gotta watch a lot of Goalball to find a good I kept going to the finals for that.

Quiet, please, woman. Quiet.

Alison: Well, you know what sound I do like? Horses. No, seriously, and I’m not just giving you a segue. I really do. I do love, I was never a horse girl. Mm hmm. But I do love them. just leave me in Versailles for the whole Paralympics and Olympics and I will be fine. Princess Anne.

Beatrice de Lavalette Interview

Jill: Oh man. yes, we are talking equestrian today with Beatrice de Lavalette. Beatrice competed at the Tokyo Paralympics in para dressage.

She’s in grade two in the individual championship test. She finished fifth and in the individual freestyle, she finished sixth. Beatrice was severely injured in the terrorist attack at the Brussels airport in 2016. Born in France, Beatrice moved to the United States to attend the University of San Diego and continue her rehabilitation. And we met Beatrice at the Team USA Media Summit along with her dog Simba. Take a listen.

So, you were one of the flame bearers.

I am one of the flame bearers. For Paris 2024. Yes. What? How? It’s How did that whole thing come about?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Um, kind of funny. Um, my father and uncle are part, are clients at a bank in France. Um, and they heard of me, and they knew that I was a potential for going to the games. Um, and so they contacted me and said, hey, we would love to have you as one of our Flamebearers, and I was like, uh, yeah.

Absolutely. Um, and then a couple weeks later, they asked me to be the captain for that section of the, of the Okay,

Jill: so what do you do as captain? What are your duties?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Honestly, I don’t know yet. All they said is I’m going to be holding the flame the longest. So I’m hoping I’ll be passing it to the next town, but I don’t know yet.

So we’ll see. So what town are you going to be in? It is called, sorry, um, it’s Bourgogne Franche Comté. And where is that in the country? it’s in a region called Dijon, where the mustard comes from. Yes.

Jill: Who’s got the best Dijon mustard in Dijon? Do you know?,

Beatrice de Lavalette: My favorite mustard, which is called maille à l’ancienne, uh, the old style, mustard, and that’s my favorite go to every time I’m in France. Like, on a good piece of steak, there’s nothing better.

Jill: Nice, alright. Are you still with Sixth Sense? That’s my big question. I am still with Sixth Sense.

Beatrice de Lavalette: He actually just arrived in France two days ago, and he arrived at his new home for the season a day ago.

Jill: Wow, okay, so how long did it take him to travel?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Um, the flight is about, well, they left early on, Friday, the 11th.

Jill: Okay. I don’t remember

Beatrice de Lavalette: what day that is, but

Jill: oh yeah, it’s been five days. Yeah. So it’s been

Beatrice de Lavalette: five days. Okay. Uh, so they left early on Friday. Then they were, the flight was late. So they left the early, the next day. And then, so they got there the 13th, I believe. and then they spent a couple hours in the quarantine and customs.

Uh, and then our, my shipper, my horse shipper came to get him and drove him down to France. Um, cause he landed in, uh, Amsterdam at the Schiphol Airport. and then he’s been at the barn. He’s super happy. The groom that’s there is amazing. She’s been taking care of him really, really well. He gets his hour walk morning and night where he gets to graze grass and be very happy.

but it is a little bit cooler than it is in Florida though. So, it’s time to go get him some little bit heavier blankets cause it’s like 4 degrees Celsius. Which is like 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cold at night. So we’re going to go get him some new blankets.

Jill: What is it like, cause you’ve been on like, this is not the same horse you had for Tokyo.

No, it is not. Okay. How did that process work in finding it? Um,

Beatrice de Lavalette: so after Tokyo, um, we all realized, uh, we all knew, but really it showed itself pretty strongly, uh, when we were in Tokyo that I needed a horse of a better Quality, gate, and horse itself. Um, even though Clark, the horse that I took to Tokyo was an absolute sweetheart.

We knew that if I wanted to really meddle, I needed a new horse. Uh, so when we got back from the games in Tokyo, we got back in end of August and in November, we took a trip to, uh, Europe for 10 days and probably tried about 40 horses.

Jill: Wow. Over

Beatrice de Lavalette: in, we did. Multiple countries and those 10 days we did Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and then back to Holland, and then flew out of Holland.

So

Alison: is it size,

Beatrice de Lavalette: personality, yeah, style of gate? Exactly, that’s exactly how it is. Especially in paradressage, depending on the grade that you’re in, for like grade one, which is only walk, you need a perfect 10 walk. So the grade, the, the notes that we, the grades that we get on each, um, figure is out of 10. So if you have a 10 walk, you’re doing pretty good, but also you have to know how to control that walk.

Um, but I’m in grade two, so I do 70 percent walk, 30 percent trot. So I have to have a horse that has really, really nice walk and a very nice trot as well. But it’s a lot of the character. of the horse, the size of the horse, depending on how tall you are. and also what you’re looking for. If you want a big horse with huge walk and over extension in the walk, then you might go a little bit bigger.

but it, for me, it’s also very much the character, how safe they are if they don’t care about the wheelchair, how it, how easy it is for them to adapt to my aids. and that always takes a little bit of like a little while for them to get used to everything. Cause there are new buttons for them.

Because without legs for me, I have to use two whips, which is not a big, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just two sticks that I can touch him. You don’t have the legs to, I don’t have the legs to tell him where to go, so I just touch him with the, with the whips or I swish it. Mm-Hmm. . Um, and that tells him exactly where he needs to go.

And that took a long time for him to really get used to and understand. Um, and I had to get used to him as well, to his character, his gates, everything that goes with it. I had to get used to it. And he had to get used to me. Um, and that took about a good year and a half, and I’ve had him for two year and a half years now.

And now we’ve got this really emotional, con connected bond, and that’s made a huge difference. And he’s such a lovable horse, he’s so good. he’s very lovey. He loves his hugs and kisses. He loves to give hugs and kisses, and most importantly, he loves his peppermints. If you don’t have his peppermints after a ride, he’s not gonna be happy.

Alison: How long would you stay with a

Beatrice de Lavalette: horse

Alison: like this? What’s the

Beatrice de Lavalette: hope? The hope is to stay with him Probably like eight years over two games. like if you get them right after, like I got them right after Tokyo. So I did the championships in Denmark in 22. and then I’m, so I’m trying out for Paris and I’m still trying to go for LA with him.

If that’s possible right now, he’s 14 years old. So it might, it’ll depend on how he is at that age, but I’m also going to be looking at another horse while I’m in France. Because I always need a backup horse in case something, in case something doesn’t go well. Uh, sometimes that happens. It’s not a bad thing.

It’s just sometimes the horse isn’t behaving as well as we would like it to in a competition. So, we don’t always get the scores that we want. Wait,

Jill: okay. So, we know that human athletes, you know, you have your training cycles and all that. Is the horse the same way? Do they have to peak at a certain time?

Yeah. Okay.

Beatrice de Lavalette: I mean, if you, if, I mean, we would rather have done peak at every competition, right? But that’s why we try. That’s why we practice every day is to get to that point where you can actually peak, get the peak moment in, in practice. And then you know how to get to it, on your own.

Alison: Once you’re at that competition in Olympic dressage, the human and the horse are both qualifying.

So. In para dressage, it’s the athlete that’s qualifying, but you can be on a different it’s both. It’s both the horse

Beatrice de Lavalette: and the, and the athlete. So we have to, we have to be, we qualify as a pair. Oh, you do. Cause when you said you have a backup horse, so that’s sort of for the season. That’s for the season.

And in case, cause you basically, you compete both horses at the competitions. So they both qualify and then it’s the selection and the selectors that choose which horse you’ll take to the games. How much input do you have with the selectors? None. All we have, the only input that we have is how well we do in competition.

Alison: So you could feel more comfortable on one and they could say, no thank you. Yeah, you’re riding this one.

Beatrice de Lavalette: It’s rare that that would happen. ’cause they obvious that like they obviously know what the connection with the horse is and what the, the horse is capable of.

So that also helped me if I, if I had that, which I do. But sometimes the second horse can be better at some competitions. And so it brings in that question of like, Oh, okay. So which one might be the better horse to then get a medal or get the highest ranking, but mostly the metal.

Jill: How do you figure.

Out where a horse’s peak is, or I mean, because like you can talk

Beatrice de Lavalette: and

Jill: they can’t. So how do you know when they’re having, I mean, you can feel a bad day.

Beatrice de Lavalette: You can feel it. You can really feel it. You can feel it in the, in the way they’re, they’re walking, trotting. If they’re being, if you can tell that they’re stiff, like if their back is a little stiff or their neck is stiff, you can tell, cause it’s harder for them to bend, move their back and stuff like that.

So you can actually tell very easily if a horse is having an off day.

Alison: When you’re putting together the figures and the freestyle, especially knowing the Paralympics is coming, how are you putting that together versus an ordinary season program?

Beatrice de Lavalette: it’s a little bit, it’s a lot more work because you really want the music and the figure.

So I, the music is very important because it’s, it’s part of our grade, artistic grade. and then we have the, artistic and the technical, uh, difficulty, which we don’t technically have anymore, but we sort of do as well. but it’s like you can add difficulty in and it won’t be counted, but the judges still see it and it’ll be added into your score.

Jill: what’s your music?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Ooh, I went with old French music. Yeah, because it’s my, it’s my homage to my, to my heritage and to the country, especially living, born, being born there and living there for most of my life. I grew up on older French music. I mean, I, there’s a channel called Nostalgie, that my parents would always have on in the car.

So I grew up listening to all the old songs, um, older songs. So, there’s Edith Piaf, Jean Jacques Goldman, yeah, I mean, a bunch of different ones and I’m so excited. Why did you choose to compete for USA vs France? That, it was a, it was an interesting choice to have to make, but I kind of already knew that I was going to go with the U.

  1. in the back of my head, just because I knew I was moving to the States and I had already met most of the U. S. team, uh, and I hadn’t met anybody from the French team, not the deciding factor, but it was a helping factor. The U S are sponsored by my two favorite brands, Nike and Ralph Lauren.

Alison: And I see you’re in lovely Ralph Lauren right now. Exactly.

Beatrice de Lavalette: And I’m in Nike underneath the sweater.

Jill: So what did you think of the Tokyo uniform? I loved it. Yeah.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yeah. The, I unfortunately did not get a chance to do the opening or the closing ceremony. Okay. Which was unfortunate, but we, we, we still dressed up while we were watching it on TV with a bunch of other athletes at the village.

but it was, it was very nice. And the best part is like, they have, See, they have seamstresses and tailors at the games to then adapt the clothing to you if you need it. So since I’m in a wheelchair, I can’t really have a very long jacket because it looks weird. So they actually shortened it.

to my waist in the wheelchair. And so it’s, and I do that with all my jackets, but them being able to do it right there and then, I mean, two days later, not even, I had my jacket in my room ready to go. Is there a lot of

Alison: that, that we able bodied people wouldn’t even think of? Yeah. And especially related to sport, though.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I mean, that’s in, both in life and in sport, sometimes um, Okay, in my sport, I keep my, my jacket, my competition jacket long because I’m straight on the horse, so it looks okay. Looks good. when I’m in a wheelchair, it kind of like, goes onto the wheels and it gets dirty. It’s just, it’s not very elegant, I want to say.

and it’s very annoying when you just have all this extra clothing. That’s not very helpful. You have to bend it inside and everything. So it doesn’t get dirty or it doesn’t look weird. Um, so all of my jackets, my blazers, all that stuff, I always get them shortened or buy them shortened.

Alison: Are you riding with the prosthetics?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yes, you do. Yes, I do. when I first started, I rode without them. Um, my first competition was a novice, uh, grade one competition. It was just walk. Uh, and that one I did in France where I grew up actually at the, at the equestrian facility that I grew up in. and it was, it was amazing. but at that one I rode without legs.

and then after that I started, I, after that competition, I got my legs to ride. because I knew that I was capable to trot and it was a complete accident actually. I thought I was never going to be able to trot. And when in that competition, the second day my horse took two steps of trot and I was okay.

And I was like, Oh my God. I can do this. And so I got home, got the prosthetics and started trotting.

Alison: Do you have special equestrian prosthetics that you wear for riding?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yes and no. They’re very, very similar to the ones that I have for every day, like the same equipment. It’s just they’re thinner and a little bit lighter because my boots are on their own are pretty heavy.

So it, it does create sometimes some of an issue. So, but it’s also like, it’s annoying that they’re heavy with the boots on. But as soon as I take them out, they’re super light. Um, but it’s good thing that they’re heavy when I’m on the horse, cause it keeps my legs down for like, it pushes my legs down into the stirrup.

And I also have an elastic underneath that goes from the back of my boot under the stirrup and then to the top of my boot, the front of my boot. So it keeps my foot in the stirrup without moving. But if I were to fall off, hopefully not, knock on wood, but it will come off, it’ll break. And all of the, uh, adaptive equipment that helps us stay on the horse has to be releasable.

So if there’s, if we, God forbid, we have to fall or we do fall, everything has to come loose. So I have two Velcros on each leg that are measured to a specific centimeter, to like the millimeter exactly. and they’re very strict about that because unfortunately, we’re Long time ago, someone had Velcros that were too overlapped and they were, they weren’t able to fall off, which I’ve done.

I do that in training so that I don’t fall off, which is very rare. I mean, with Sensei, it’s never happened. Uh, Clark may have tried once and I told him to stop and he just stopped dead in his tracks. He’s a, they’re very smart horses. but in competition, we’re very, very critical of. What we have on and the stewards that are there to measure and make sure that everything is correct are very, very strict with that as well.

Jill: What languages do your horses speak? English. Yeah.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Being in the States and training in English and a lot of the trainers in Europe all speak English because they, they deal with international clients that, and English is the international language. so sometimes they do train them in English, even overseas.

Because the horse may end up. Yeah. The horse may end up. Anywhere in the world, sometimes in English speaking countries, but they adapt very well.

Jill: what was it like to adapt to para dressage versus, how different are the two or is able bodied from para?

Beatrice de Lavalette: I mean, at the beginning it’s very different. Um, I had to learn how to ride in a completely new way.

Um, cause I mean, I’ve been riding my whole life from the age of three all the way to at that point 17. And then now I’m 25 and I’ve had to learn completely, a completely different way of writing. But over the years, I’ve been able to bring it back to the original, almost able body, without having the legs or the support in the legs where I don’t have any feeling or movement.

so over the years as you get better, uh, and you practice and obviously you get better as you practice. Um, but it’s. It’s been seven years now that I’ve been riding after the accident and I’ve been able to really get my position on the horse and how I work the horse almost to an able bodied level.

Jill: when you’re riding, does a horse respond better to touch on their sides? Yes. And that’s why this, okay. Yes. Versus the reins. Yeah, yeah.

Beatrice de Lavalette: We don’t, and especially we don’t want to use the, the reins too much because we don’t want the bit to move so much in the mouth where they would drop it. Because if they drop it, they start playing with it, and it, that bothers the judges because it, it’s, it’s distracting.

And they don’t like that. Not refined. Yeah. They don’t like that, unfortunately. But. cause some horses get, get in trouble and you lose points because of that. and my horse sensei was like that for a long time as well. And sometimes it’s just a problem in the jaw, in the jaw or in the neck where it, cause a horse is connected from the whole body, basically if something, and it’s kind of like a person, but they’re a lot more connected through the bones, uh, where like, if it’s their back and if it can affect their teeth kind of thing, like how the jaw moves or anything like that.

So they’re very. Internally connected.

Alison: So moving the jaw is a loss of points. What other sort of little not so obvious pieces can lose you points?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Um, just the length of your stride. For example, in the walk, uh, if you don’t have a very good walk, you’ll lose points. Same in the trot, same in the canter.

because depending on which grade you are from one to five, Starting at grade four and five, you start cantering, in your tests. whereas three to one is just walk and trot and then walk. So, uh, it just depends on, on where you are at. how do you get on the horse? Okay. For a long time. the only way to get on the horse for me was to be picked up out of my chair, like a princess.

And I didn’t mind it ’cause I felt like a princess. Uh, and be gently put on the horse so we wouldn’t hurt his back as I got on. And then I would swing my leg over with my hand, uh, and then we would strap me in. Uh, nowadays I have a lift. Yep. Still a princess. Uh, an electric princess. The prince. Yes, exactly like a flying carpet.

We’ll say. It’s, it’s a, like a firing flying carpet slash uh, electric prince. Uh, so we plug it in and I push a button and it brings me up to the right level. I can control where I stop, uh, and then I move over to the side cause it slides and I just bring my leg over and push myself, uh, pull myself to the, to the

Alison: saddle.

So with paratrasage and you’re not using your legs, I assume the core is going to be very important. Yes. Core and back is incredibly important. And is that where the injuries come? Yes. Okay. If you get injured.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yeah. If you get injured, it can be a lot harder depending on where your spinal cord injury is.

Like I, there are some writers that are, where their spinal cord is a lot higher, where it’s from chest down and they can still manage to ride. And I don’t know how they do it. Mine is waist down and that makes it a lot easier for me. and I was lucky enough that since I’ve been writing my entire life, I had muscle memory from every single discipline that I did in sport in my childhood, all the way to my accident.

All that muscle memory came back. So I’m able to use my hips in a way that I should not be able to do.

Jill: I know,

Beatrice de Lavalette: the two of us just went

Jill: That’s really kind of cool. It’s very cool. It’s very, very

Beatrice de Lavalette: cool. And I’m very happy that I’m able to do that, because it makes a huge difference in how I ride.

Alison: Because

Beatrice de Lavalette: now I’m doing the visual

Alison: and my head going,

Beatrice de Lavalette: Oh, that means you’re And I can show you some videos as well. You’ll see, like, my trunk and my seat is able to really move with the horse, whereas sometimes, sometimes, It’s very hard to do that because you’re kind of stuck straight and you can’t control anything, but the movement of the horse naturally does that, but I’m able to really push it if I need more walk or trot with the horse through that movement of the trunk.

Jill: Yeah.

Alison: Yeah. Talk a little bit about the relationship with the horse.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Oh my God. I, especially with Sensei and Clark, Clark is an interesting character. He likes to nibble my shoulder, which I don’t mind. Cause my traps are super tight. So he like massages and like releases the trap, but it just comes with bite marks, which I mean, I don’t mind.

I’m pretty used to it, but like. Being around horses, I’ve been bitten, I don’t know how many times. But it’s, and it’s not painful. He just kind of nips at it, but not mean or anything. It’s just he, he enjoys doing that. Sensei, on the other hand, is a love bug, just an absolute love bug. And he loves to pull out my hair bun out of the bun position.

Yeah. I mean, a lot of horses actually like to play with your hair, but he really takes it to another level.

Jill: Does he like getting dressed up for competition?

Beatrice de Lavalette: He actually, yeah, I mean, luckily for us in dressage, we only have to do the main and the forelock, which is the front, longer hair of the, of the face.

so, and they actually, they, once, once you do that, they know that they’re going into a competition because we only do it for competition. so they kind of get amped up. I don’t know if they like it or not, but some of them actually don’t mind it. Cause it’s kind of like a big massage. Cause their, their hair is kind of being, I don’t want to say pulled, but like twisted insides.

And so it’s kind of like a little massage, like a head massage or neck massage. So some of them actually like fall asleep while they’re doing it. And so I would say they do enjoy it, especially since he passes out, you actually have to like hold his head up. Cause he’s just like, you just like, Puts all his weight into your arms and just falls asleep while somebody’s doing the braids.

Alison: Simba’s asleep on my foot.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yeah, I mean, I have, I have very sleepy horses. He might have to stay. Oh, I mean, he’s been the star of the show this entire day and yesterday, so. I took my shoe off

Alison: so it’d be a little more

Beatrice de Lavalette: comfortable.

Alison: I just

Beatrice de Lavalette: Well, at least he’s keeping you nice and warm. Oh

Alison: my goodness, you

Beatrice de Lavalette: have no idea how happy this has made me.

I mean, I totally get it. Like a lot of people can’t take their dogs everywhere, especially coming to work events like this. So people have, like, especially yesterday, they were like, I haven’t seen my dog in 24 days. And they’re like, are you sure it hasn’t been like 24 hours? Like, yeah, but it feels like 24 days.

Alison: Will Simba be able to come with you?

Beatrice de Lavalette: Yes, he’s actually, when I leave for France, uh, for Paris in a day, tomorrow, he will be coming with me. and he will most likely be with me at the games.

Jill: Will he be able to be a torchbearer with you? Sorry? Will he come along on the torch?

Beatrice de Lavalette: That’s what I’m hoping, yes.

Because, I mean, in Tokyo they restricted the amount of dogs because it was a lot more work. Uh, but I don’t know, in Paris maybe they’ll allow more service dogs because it’s, we’re out of the COVID pandemic.

Alison: so I’m hoping. But we’ll see. Well, we have spoken to a couple other Paralympians who have service dogs.

And we know we can’t, the service dog can’t come to the venue.

Beatrice de Lavalette: Or can

Alison: I don’t know that’s okay in the past on the venue in the past they haven’t and I’ve been a strong aggregate for Doggy playdates when they can’t come with oh, I would love that.

Beatrice de Lavalette: That’s genius It’s my dog Simba. He’s a he’s a player He loves dogs.

He loves people

Alison: and he loves dogs. Take the vest off. Let the service dogs have a little fun Yeah, maybe like a little venue outside of Versailles. Yeah,

Beatrice de Lavalette: I There’s fields. No, I mean, there’s an entire park. And I’ve seen that my friends, cause I grew up there. Like I grew up in that city. so growing back for me, going to Versailles is going back home to my backyard kind of thing.

Are there going to be people there that haven’t seen you ride before? Yeah. I mean, the weirdest but awesome part is I’ve had friends from kindergarten that I have not spoken to in 22 years. Something like that or haven’t even heard from them. They all texted me. They’re like we got our tickets. We’re coming I mean you can’t beat that that emotion feel like the emotional feeling of like wow This is gonna make a huge impact on a lot of people And I mean I get it like for me.

I don’t feel it I don’t feel like an inspiration kind of thing But I do know that what I’ve been through and what I’ve done with it does inspire a lot of people So having all the people that knew me long before all of this happened is going to be awesome. Is that pressure or is that support? A bit of both, a bit of both.

Cause I don’t want to disappoint anybody. I don’t want to disappoint anybody. but at the same time, I want to have, I want everybody to have a good time and enjoy their time there. Cause para dressage not being one of the most popular sport or the equestrian Sport on its own is not the most popular at the games.

We know that. and it’s becoming a lot better and more and more people are getting interested in the sport. but having more people there, especially know that I, people that I know is just going to be such a I want to say like emotional moment, but a very like prideful moment.

Jill: I mean, the whole equestrian at Versailles.

Yeah. Is gonna be just so beautiful and amazing. It’s gonna be

Beatrice de Lavalette: stunning. I mean, I have friends, my aunt went. for a walk with a friend down in the park. She sent me videos of the building and everything. They’ve built half the, they’ve built the arena, they’ve built half the stadium, now they’re building the other half.

How much of that are you going to see ahead of time? Do you have a test event? I do not. Okay. They’ve already done some of the test events, especially for the eventing, uh, which was absolutely stunning, because there, they were like drone shots of them, like going, cantering through the fields. I mean, it was absolutely stunning.

Uh, so that was very, like, exciting. but, we don’t have a test event, unfortunately. And we didn’t have a test event, well, Tokyo was a completely different event. And, what’s the word? Uh, a different way of doing the Olympics. Yeah. That’s one way of putting it. So this is going to be like, like, I know Tokyo was my first Olympics.

But this is for me going to be my first real full Olympic experience kind of thing. Um, so, and being in my hometown, I mean, I can’t, it, it’s like a full circle kind of experience and I can’t wait to be there if I get selected, obviously. But I’m, I’m working, excuse my language, but I’m working my butt off to get there.

That would be Deliel! Yes! I will be there. And that’s how I got to Tokyo. I just visualized myself there every day. And I’ve been doing the same since Tokyo ended. I’m like, I’m going to Paris. I’m going to Paris. and I know that I can meddle this time. Even though I believed that I could medal last time, uh, but I wasn’t disappointed when I didn’t, uh, I still did a really good job for a first time.

And especially, unfortunately for me, I was the first one to go of the entire competition, which was a whole added stress, but that also taught me how to control. I went in as the calmest person you could ever find going into the first ride of the Paralympic Games at an event like this one. I was so calm because I was like, you know what?

Screw it. I’m going to go in there and do my best. There’s nothing else I can do. And I, we all knew that the first couple of rides, the judges are always harsher because they don’t have a base yet of where they need to start scoring. So obviously my score was lower than what I would have wanted to be, what I would have wanted to be at.

But I still got a good score. I got fifth and sixth in both of my, um, in the two events that I did. I got the individual where I got fifth and then I got the freestyle when I got sixth out of like 15 riders. I’m, I was very happy with that for first Olympic games. It broke the ice for me. And it taught me and showed me what I needed to do to get back on that podium.

Alison: I’ll be there. I’m so excited to go to Versailles. Oh, I mean, it’s

Beatrice de Lavalette: going to be absolutely stunning. I don’t know if you’ve seen the rendering. I’ve seen the rendering, but I have never been to France. I’ve never been to Paris. So this is just, it’s going to be absolutely amazing. Although. Are you going for the Olympics and the Paralympics or both?

Yes. Okay. Good luck for the Olympic games because it’s gonna be absolutely packed. I figure we’ll get, ’cause I’ll just go whatever day they let me. They’re expect. Last summer when I spoke to the director of the Paralympic game of the Paris 2024 games for both Olympic and Paralympic. At that point, this was in.

July, beginning of July. she said at that, at that moment, they were expecting 500, 000 people coming into Paris for the Olympic games and probably about 300, 000 for the Paralympic games. I mean, that’s a lot of people. And Paris is a very tight city. so, and I mean, transportation is going to have to be on point.

That’s for sure. Cause people are going to want to get to the right venues on time to see the, the sport that they want to see and the event specifically that they want to see. So it’s going to be, it’s gonna be an interesting summer, but I’m really excited to see where it goes. And I’m really excited to, to hopefully get it selected and be there.

Uh, but even if I’m not selected, God forbid, I will be there no matter what, in a stance, supporting my team. cause I, I love my team, they’re such a good group of girls, and we all are such good close friends, and we really are the epitome of a good, real team. We care about each other like we’re family, and if something goes wrong for somebody else, one of the team members, we are there for them.

And there’s nothing better than that feeling in the world.

Alison: I’m sorry. The better feeling is that sympathy.

Jill: for taking so much time with us. Do

Jill: Thank you so much, Beatrice. You can follow Beatrice at her website, beaparathlete. org and her Instagram is Beatrice LDL.

Cleveland’s Olympians

So I have to tell you, I went and saw Morelle McCane, boxer. this past week at the, she spoke at the City Club of Cleveland, which is a ideas organization. So they have a lot of lectures and she was part of one of their inspirational series talks.

Oh my gosh. I am so sorry. We could not get her at the media summit. She was in line in the video room and we tried to get her and she didn’t have time. She is so full of personality. Did she knock you out close close, but luckily the City Club has video of her discussion on line. So we’ll put a link to that in the show notes.

I also got to ask a question during the Q and a. Because I wanted to know how her financial situation stacks up because, you know, boxers are not, uh, well paid when they’re amateurs. And, she said that she has done Uber Eats and DoorDash. To make ends meet good times, but, uh, yeah, she was really, really fun.

I really am looking forward to seeing her compete and, uh, Cleveland is very excited to have an Olympian in their midst. Let me tell you.

Alison: Uh, also Not the first time Cleveland has had Olympians in their midst.

Jill: No, not the first time. And if you want to hear more about Cleveland’s Olympic history, I will be speaking at the Lakewood Public Library here in Ohio on Wednesday, June 5th at 7 p.

  1. in the main auditorium. I’m going to tell some of the stories of some of the maybe not so well known or maybe forgotten Olympians We’re really big on Jesse Owens here and Harrison Dillard but There are some and some Shukla Stanis that don’t get talked about as much.

So we’re going to shed some light on those. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I am so excited about my research and I cannot wait to share it with people.

Paris 2024 News

Speaking of boxing, the International Boxing Association has announced that it is going to award prize money to the boxing medalists. Now this is, it comes on the heels of World Athletics saying it’s going to pay 50 grand to gold medalists. Boxing is going to pay 100, 000 to gold medalists, 50, 000 to silver, 25, 000 to bronze, but that money get split with their international federations and coaches.

So for the gold, that’s 50, 000 to the athlete, 25, 000 to the federation, 25, 000 to their coach. Uh, they are giving away a total of 3. to 100 plus boxers. Uh, they also said fourth and fifth replaces will receive 10, 000. Now as you But

Alison: wait,

Jill: IBA’s not running the tournament, are they? No, they are not. They are no longer recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

So you can imagine that they are none too pleased about this

Alison: development. For a second, I was in the parallel universe and I’m thinking, am I that out of the loop that the IBA is back in the IOC fold?

Jill: No, they are not. So it’s interesting because, and the IOC wondered, where’s the money coming from? One general partner of the International Boxing Association is Gazprom, a Russian outfit run by oligarchs. So we, we don’t know where that money comes from.

Alison: We know where the money comes from and it’s not a good place.

Jill: So this is tough because of course. I’m sure the athletes don’t want to deal with anything at the federation level just because it’s so complicated and they, they just got to put a lot of energy into their sport.

Alison: And this goes back to that controversy where which national federation is making the teams because you have the competing boxing federations. Internationally, and then what does the national federation do? So IBA saying, we’re going to give you all this money federation is that the bribe to keep federations in its fold and the same with coaches, because remember if you coach under one federation, but not the other IBA kicks you out.

That’s right.

Jill: Well, this is just a major conundrum.

Alison: A kerfuffle? I think we’ve moved past a kerfuffle. And what’s worse than kerfuffle?

Jill: I don’t know. I really don’t know. But, uh, boxing has found a way to get there, sadly, sadly for the athletes. I think

Alison: that’s the, the new colloquialism. What is worse than the kerfuffle? The IBA. Like, that’s what you just call when things really go bad.

Jill: Oh, boy oh boy. Speaking of Russians and things going bad. Jeez Louise. Microsoft Threat Analysis Center has released a report on Russia’s campaigns to influence games. Uh, ideally they want to hurt the IOC’s reputation and, uh, create the expectation that violence will break out in Paris during the games.

So this includes the promotion of an anti IOC fall film and anti IOC film called Olympics has fallen that uses AI generated audio to impersonate Tom Cruise. there have been other campaigns against France, against, uh, Macron, against the IOC, against Paris 2024, uh, and specifically on Paris 2024, uh, allegations of mismanagement, which for a misinformation campaign.

It helps them to know that France has raided the offices of Paris 2024 a couple of times looking for things. So that kind of plays into their hands. Um, what they do in these campaigns is create spoofed content that mimics reputable media outlets, particularly in short form video clips that, particularly in short form video clips and digitally altered images that go on social media.

So if you get a lot of your news from social media, really look out for these, uh, misinformation campaigns to show up on your feeds. They’re also going to be using online bots and automated social media accounts to push all this content out there, which I don’t, I, it’s, it’s frustrating. Okay. Get your news from reputable sources.

Also, let’s, let’s keep going with the bad news. Bad news, but good news. The French Interior Ministry has announced that it arrested an 18-year-old Chechen man in San ET on May 22, over a suicide bombing mission to attack one of the jre or to attack over a suicide bombing mission. To attack the re ARD stadium.

That’s going to host football during the games. So this was, uh, an Islamist extremist derived plan. That’s where that, that stems from. So we’ve got, uh, attacks coming from all fronts. And again, we’ve had this, this is nothing new. It’s just, uh, taken to the next level.

Cause remember how the PyeongChang opening ceremonies was almost taken down by, by hacking.

Alison: I do. I do. And certainly we’ve had. Terrorist attack at the Olympics for decades, that’s nothing new. And other major events. I mean, not just the Olympics and the Paralympics, but any major event, the risk of suicide bombers and terrorist attacks.

It’s there. I mean, this is why that Sen plan has hit so many roadblocks. Because everyone is afraid, and rightfully so.

Jill: So, knock on wood, uh, Props to the authorities for working overtime to highlight these things and, , Investigate all the threats. So just, you know, do

Alison: any good news for me? I do have good

Jill: news. The Brussels times is reporting that Paris has begun sharing the free tickets for the opening ceremony. So the first wave of invitations has gone out, , And it’s going out by email. So they’re giving access codes. , Oversubscription rates stand at 30%. So once duplicate requests and cancellations are analyzed, a second wave of access codes will come out.

Then they’re going to have a third in early July. So they’re targeting, families from underprivileged areas with low incomes, young people, sports movements, and all people who have helped organize the Olympics, including city workers and traders. So those are, uh, really who’s looking to get the free tickets.

Hopefully that will go smoothly as well. remember how the booksellers don’t want to move the booksellers alongside that, uh, reduced capacity by about 80, 000 seats.

Alison: That’s a lot of

Jill: seats. It’s a lot of seats.

Alison: I would expect that also. So it wasn’t just that the booksellers, their space themselves.

But because they couldn’t secure. That site, that whole area just got shut down.

Jill: I’m very curious to see what that will look like for the opening ceremonies. If would they even be allowed to remain open? I mean, would they, would, if you were a bookseller, would you think, Oh, I can keep open during the open ceremonies.

I will

Alison: have a crowd around me. No way. They’re not going to allow them to stay. I mean, they may let them stay there, but stay open during the ceremonies. I can’t imagine just what we were talking about security wise. There’s no way that whole area has got to be just locked down. Slightly better news.

Jill: I don’t know.

This is so frustrating, but it’s good and heartfelt in a way. And I will be excited to see this. 10 Olympians will receive their allocated. 10 Olympians will receive their reallocated Olympic medals at Champions Park during the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. these are medal reallocations that go all the way back to Sydney 2000, almost 25 years ago.

Uh, where Beverly McDonald from Jamaica will get the bronze medal for the 200 meter. then, Chelsea Hammond Ross from Jamaica will get the bronze for the women’s long jump from Beijing 2008. We have several medalists from London 2012 that will be reallocated. Men’s weightlifting, 85K, uh, that will go to Tariq Yahya for the bronze medal.

Fouad Abdelazam from Egypt, the men’s high jump reallocation will be gold to Eric Kennard from the U. S. and silver to Derek Druin from Canada. Bronze, also in weightlifting, the men’s plus 105 kilograms will go to Sang Gwen Jeon from Korea. Uh, and then in women’s athletics 1500 meter bronze will go to Abebe Aragrawi from Ethiopia, and the whole podium from the 400 meter hurdles will be brand new.

It’s Leshenda Dimas from the U. S., Susana Hinova from, uh, Czechia, and The country’s even changed its name.

Alison: In my brain, I’m like, Oh, which, which version? Was this the Czech Republic? Was this Czechoslovakia? I mean, it feels that way, right? Maybe.

Jill: Right. And bronze will go to Khalees Spencer from Jamaica.

Alison: Well, fantastic. They’re going to get their moment. I’m glad that they’re doing it this way, one, to give these athletes their moments, even 25 years later. And to highlight the importance of clean athletes.

Jill: Yes. And it will be at an Olympics, which is helpful. It won’t be at the stadiums. Uh, a lot of that came because there wasn’t

it wasn’t enough time to get all these ceremonies in and done right, but they at least get a moment in the park and get to celebrate the way other Olympians will be fetid this summer.

Alison: and given all the problems, controversies surrounding WADA right now. I think highlighting athletes that have had to wait And got screwed over because of other people’s misdeeds is incredibly important right now.

Jill: Exactly. And I know that some of the athletes are having GoFundMes to help get their families over so that the whole family can celebrate because what’s, you want your family there and especially if the families went over to, to watch and were able to watch the competitions in person the first time. Um, and then they.

Can’t come over now and see it. It’s, that would be a little bit of a bummer,

Alison: but oh, and Hey, would this be, we need to get Terrence Burns on the phone. Would this be an amazing sponsorship opportunity for somebody to like take all these Jamaican athletes and their families over, or, you know, cause there’s a bunch of countries here that I’m seeing repeated, repeated, repeated to do, you know, all these clean athletes are getting their moment and we, whatever company are making sure that that happens.

And i’m

Jill: sure Puffs is sold in all of those places because who’s going to cry more than Mom and Dad

Alison: you and I

Jill: All right, if you are going to Paris we have some more Exhibits to check out. Listener Charlotte has reported that at the Pantheon in Paris, there’s an exhibit called Paralympic Stories from Sporting Integration to Social Inclusion, 1948 to 2024, that’s going on from June 11th through September 29th. Uh, and that’s going to be part of the Cultural Olympiad as well.

Also, if you are in Australia, at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra will be an Olympic urban sports exhibit called Riding the Olympic Wave Breakthrough Sports. It’s going to showcase 3×3 BMX freestyle, breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. And that exhibit is on until September 30th and is free.

So Olympics everywhere

TKFLASTAN News

Alison: Welcome to Shookfluston.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive.

These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up a citizenship of our very own country, Shefflestan. Lots of events this weekend.

Alison: At the World Aquatics Artistic Swimming World Cup event in Markham, Ontario. Jacqueline Simoneau won gold in solo technical and silvers in solo free, duet technical and duet free.

And Canada took the bronze in the team acrobatic and silvers in team technical and team free.

Jill: And keeping it in Canada, race walker Evan Dunfee got two more Canadian records over the weekend. He now holds the record for the three kilometer walk and the five kilometer walk. Next up is Paris for him.

Alison: the Katie Moon, a pole vault classic will be this Saturday, June 8th, three to six at the Olmstead falls high school in Ohio.

Tickets are free, but you need to register. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes and the event may be live streamed on flow track. A number of big names in us pole vaulting will complete include compete, including Katie and 2020 Olympian Morgan Lalu Romero.

Jill: former BMX cyclist, Connor Fields has joined the NBC commentating team and he will be doing BMX racing and freestyle.

And I am very hopeful that he will bring actual knowledge to the freestyle competition.

I tried to say that very, very diplomatically. Why? I already,

Alison: I already said awful things about Rush. I mean, please, diplomacy has gone out the window about five years ago on this show. And superfan Sarah and listener Meredith were at the U. S. Gymnastics Championships together in our favorite gym.

Little boy might’ve had a friend in SUNY Lee.

Jill: Sarah’s adorable, , son, flag waver, Team USA’s number one. I’m sorry, Sarah, I think he’s supplanted you as Team USA’s number one fan, but he was just loving life at that championships.

Alison: Send more pictures. That’s all I’m going to say. Send us more pictures and you know what? Listeners send us pictures of any event that you go to this summer. You know, there’s so many trials going on and events. We want to see what you’re doing and what you get to see in person.

Jill: Exactly. And if you, you saw on.

, Instagram, I, I threw up a story because I went to dinner at a random restaurant and found Olympic memorabilia. So like it’s Olympics everywhere, wherever you go, it seems like they pop out at you. So whatever you find, let us know. We love to see that kind of stuff. That is going to do it for this episode.

Also let us know what you think of para dressage.

Alison: You can find us on X YouTube and Instagram at flame alive pod. Send us an email at flame alive pod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 352 6348. That’s 208 flame it. You can chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group, keep the flame alive podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you at our website, flamealivepod.

com.

Jill: On Thursday, we will have team sports from the team USA media summit. There’s going to be soccer. I believe there’s some rugby sevens, the entire U S three X three team and field hockey. And let’s, we’re going to warn you about field hockey. We had just talked to share floor, so I was all in, surface mode and, uh, it was a little overwhelming to the, to our field hockey, uh, be on the lookout for that.

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