Flame Bearers: The Women Athletes Carrying Tokyo's Torch celebrates the journeys of Tokyo’s unsung women Olympians & Paralympians and provides action-oriented analysis of the issues closest to their hearts. We share their rarely heard stories and are a microphone for women who are true masters of resiliency. Through storytelling, we use sport as a vehicle for issues such as racial justice, disability bias and pay equity.
This podcast is made possible by the Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy Program.
Simidele Adeagbo (Nigeria): The Original Sleigh Queen
Simidele (Simi) was the first African and black woman to compete in Skeleton at the Olympics, and more recently, the first African to take home gold at an international bobsled competition: "We don't have the facilities [in Nigeria], and we don't have the equipment, so to know that I was going into that space with a lot of barriers, and to know that I was still able to win was very symbolic. It showed me what was possible." While Simi just missed qualifying for Beijing in the monobob, this Olympian (2018) was a voice we wanted to elevate because she’s breaking records and boundaries for her country of Nigeria and her new sport, monobob.
In this episode, Simi talks about why diversity in sport matters and her new book, Sleigh, Sleigh, Sleigh All Day.
Contributing Expert: April Holmes (4X Paralympian, 3X Paralympic Medalist)
Ukrainian Athletes: What the World Needs to Hear
In light of Russian war on Ukraine, this special edition episode is different than our normal episodes. In an effort to elevate Ukranian voices and the connection between sports and politics, we speak with three elite Ukrainian athletes: Valentina Molchanets (Professional Triathlete and European Champion, Aquathlon, U23), Vita Oleksiuk (Paralympian, Currently #5 in World Paratriathlon ranking, 10th place Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games), and Olena Kryvystka (3X Olympian, 3x World Championships Bronze Medalist). We highlight the realities of the war in Ukraine and the messages they want the world to hear.
Experts interviewed: Dr. Emily, Channell Justice (Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University) and Yuriy Sak (Ukrainian, Ministry of Defense, Communications).
RESOURCES TO TAKE ACTION:
Courtesy of Dr. Emily, Channell Justice (Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University), ALL RESOURCES OUTLINED HERE: https://huri.harvard.edu/russia-ukraine-war
Calling out a few links that could be particularly useful
-Comprehensive list of ways foreigners can help Ukraine (compiled by Global Shapers Community (born out of World Economic Forum) and supported by Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine): https://supportukrainenow.org/
-Donate to The Kyiv Independent to support Ukrainian English-language journalism: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kyivindependent-launch or https://www.patreon.com/kyivindependent
-Petition to ask NATO to close Ukrainian airspace/create a no-fly zone: https://www.openpetition.eu/petition/online/people-around-the-world-ask-nato-to-close-the-airspace-over-ukraine
-Follow these Twitter accounts for news: @KyivIndependent, @NewVoiceUkraine, @KyivPost
-Contact your congressional representatives to demand they stand with Ukraine: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stand-with-ukraine
This episode was a true team effort. Thank you Roman Korol (Coach, Ukranian National Paratriathlon team), for making our speaking with Valentyna and Vita possible, to high school friend, Sasha Kamenetska for working with your family and friends to help us find a Ukranian translator, to Anna Synakh for making this episode possible in Ukranian, to classmate Ilya Timtchenko (Head of Ukraine, REDD Intelligence) and classmate and friend, Grace Stone for your English voiceover for Vita.
Sources Used in this episode
-TIME's YouTube, 'Ukrainian Paralympians Protest Russian Invasion'
-WION's YouTube, 'Amid Russian invasion, Ukrainian athletes make it Beijing for winter Paralympics'
-Paralympic Games' YouTube, 'Andrew Parsons' Beijing 2022 Opening Statement | Paralympic Games'
-NBC Sports' YouTube, 'Ukrainian athletes deliver powerful Opening Ceremony moments | NBC Sports'
-NBC Sports' YouTube, 'Ukrainians SWEEP PODIUM in emotional Para biathlon finish | NBC Sports'
-Paralympic Games' YouTube, '🇺🇦 Ukraine's Grygorii Vovchynskyi celebrates victory after Paralympic GOLD | Paralympic Games'
-Paralympic Games' YouTube, '🇺🇦 Ukraine's Oksana Shyshkova Incredible Gold Medal Finish! | Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games'
Mihaela Hogas (Romania): Breaking Barriers Through Speed Skating
When Mihaela was 9, she went to a park and saw some kids inline skating. She didn't realize it was actually for the winter sport of speed skating, but she was curious enough to give it a try herself: "In that moment, I decided my life. Here I am 13 years later, still doing it" despite the fact that Romania doesn't have any rinks for her to train on. Mihaela is now her country's fastest female speed skater.
In this episode, Mihaela reveals how the life of a professional athlete during COVID-19 has actually been quite lonely (even in the Olympic village), and what it means to her and others to be the fastest female Romanian Speed Skater in the world. We hear from her sister, Adina, nephew, Darius, and two best friends, Florentina and Madalina.
Kendall Gretsch (USA): 2 Games in 2 Sports Within 6 Months
3x Paralympic Gold Medalist, Kendall Gretsch is one of the only athletes who competed in Tokyo this past summer who is also competing in Beijing. Less than 6 months ago Kendall won gold in Paratriathlon, and she's now one of the Para Nordic favorites in Beijing. In this episode we talk about how Kendall got into para sports, what the postponement meant for her, and her goals for the future.
Contributing experts include Emily Allison (Kendall's Roomate) and Patrick Criteser (CEO & President, Tillamook).
Media clips from:
-NBC Sports' YouTube, Kendall Gretsch's INCREDIBLE sprint finish steals Paratriathlon gold | NBC Sports
-Paralympic Game's YouTube, Victory Ceremony | Women's Biathlon| Sprint sitting | PyeongChang2018 Paralympic Winter Games
Dr. Natalia Siuba-Jarosz (Poland): Being a Doctor & Elite Parasnowboarder
Dr. Natalia Siuba-Jarosz is an elite Polish Parasnowboarder and Doctor in Radiology. She has gone by Simba ever since her last name was misspelled in grade school, and the nickname stuck. In this episode we hear how Natalia balances both the world's of elite snowboarding and being a doctor, as well as her thoughts on women in the sport. Hint: we need more women. "Now it's changing, but almost all of the coaches from other teams are men...It's hard to be a disabled woman in Poland."
Hear more via Simba's new Flame Bearers podcast, live wherever you get your podcasts.
Contributing experts include Margorzata Kelm (Natalia's Coach) and Maciek Jarosz (Natalia's Husband).
Media clips from:
-Paralympic Games' YouTube, Lillehammer 2021 | Para Snowboard | Dual Banked Slalom (m/w) | WPSS Championships
-Paralympic Games' YouTube, Para Snowboard: Sports of the Paralympic Winter Games
Valentina Margaglio (Italy): the Skeleton Lioness
Valentina or 'The Lioness' grew up in Italy as a 'very competitive child' with her three sisters and one brother. She describes her heritage as "the perfect mix" of cultures, crediting each of her parents and their respective origins with various parts of who she is today (her Dad is from Italy and her Mom is from the Ivory Coast).
Valentina is the first Italian to ever win a Skeleton medal in the World Championships and she’s now poised to dominate the ice in Beijing. In this episode we talk about how she got into the sport, changing weight restrictions and how this impacts her push, and how she got her trademark name the Lioness because of her big fabulous curly hair.
Contributing expert: Andrea Gallina (coach and boyfriend)
Media clips from:
-RTL 102.5's YouTube, Valentina Margaglio: torna l'appuntamento con "Fisi News"
-IBSF Bobsleigh & Skeleton's YouTube, Tina Hermann shines once again in Saxony | IBSF Official
-IBSF Bobsleigh & Skeleton's YouTube, Margaglio/Gaspari: "It was a miracle on ice" | IBSF Official
-InfoByte's TV's YouTube, Olympics: An Animated History of Skeleton Sledding
Well done. Nice to hear real life stories of athletes especially form diverse countries.
Open and Honest and Awesome stories!
Love the transparency and willingness to share these stories!
I love it!… and also now want to go kick some butt!
This podcast is great! I love learning about all the ins and outs of these different sports, as well the athletes themselves. I’ve gleaned details I wouldn’t have known before and amazing new perspectives. On top of that, Jamie does an awesome job of asking pertinent, meaningful questions. It’s we’ll produced and mixed, and very enjoyable listening. :)