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.
Bonus Content: Athlete Panel Discussion
You've already met some of our incredible athletes, but we wanted to provide you with an even more unfiltered snapshot of who they are. As bonus content, we sat down with an intimate group to discuss their resiliency during the Games' postponement and their wishes moving forward. Brought to you in partnership with the student-led Harvard Kennedy School’s Women in Power Conference, this discussion is kicked off by Flame Bearers producer, Sara Asad, and moderated by world-renowned sports journalist, Jane McManus. The conversation is with Haydy Morsy (Egypt, Modern Pentathlon), Katarina Roxon (Canada, Para-Swimming) Nicky Nieves (USA, Sitting Volleyball), and Sarah Davies (Great Britain, Weightlifting).
Sophia Herzog (USA): Dwarfism & Inspiring Social Change
2016 Paralympic silver medalist, 2x World Champion, and 5x World medalist, Sophia Herzog is passionate about breaking stereotypes. She grew up in a small town of 450 people and was the first person with a disability to go to through her town's high school, so she's used to being the first.
In this episode, Sophia opens up about her experience underwater and under most people’s eyeline as well as using her platform as a professional athlete to inspire social change.
This episode was made possible by the Women's Sports Foundation.
Contributing experts include Nick Gibb (Sophia's partner) Alana Nichols (Former President, Women's Sports Foundation), and Mark Povinelli (President, Little People of America).
Haydy Morsy (Egypt): Modern Pentathlon & the Next Generation of Egyptian Athletes
When Haydy won the 2019 Pentathlon African Championship, she became the first athlete worldwide to qualify for Tokyo. She now hopes to become the first Egyptian woman to compete in two different Olympic sports: she will be competing in modern pentathlon, and she's additionally hoping to qualify in fencing.
In this episode, Haydy Morsy discusses trailblazing as a young woman athlete and aspiring sports journalist. We’ll begin by exploring how Haydy got into Modern pentathlon, learn about how her family has supported her, and then meet the mentor who helped pave the way for Haydy’s second career as a future sports journalist.
Experts interviewed include Ahmed Morsy (Haydy's brother), Kata Stevens (Journalist and Audio Producer) Inas Mazhar (Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Head of Sports Section, Al Ahram Weelky Newspaper & Professor of Sports Media, American University in Cairo), Moamen Gouda (Associate Professor, Middle East Economics, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies; Associate Lecturer, Hamburg University in the program of Law and Economics in the Middle East), and Salma El-Naqqash (Feminist Researcher & Program Analyst, UN Women's “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for women and girls in Egypt”).
Audio from: UIPM Modern Pentathlon's July 16, 2019 Facebook post, Olympic Channel's "Sport guide: Modern Pentathlon Explained", and TIME's "The Uprising: Reflections on the Egyptian Revolution by Dominic Nahr."
Naya Tapper (USA): Redefining Beauty & Supporting Black Lives Matter
Naya Tapper is a leading try scorer for Team USA's Rugby Team. She wanted to be the "first girl in the NFL" but when she found rugby, she was hooked.
In this episode, Naya Tapper of the USA Women’s Rugby Team discusses finding rugby, self love and speaking out about racial justice. We’ll start by learning how Naya got into rugby, hear how it’s shaped her personal understanding of beauty, and end with why she believes athletes like herself have an opportunity and responsibility to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Experts interviewed include Noel Tapper (Naya's Sister), Professor Cornell Brooks (Director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice, Harvard Kennedy School), and Carlin Isles (Naya's Friend, USA Men's Rugby).
Madeleine McAffe & Tanya Beths (Australia): Managing Careers, Health & Beach Handball
Madeleine (Maca) and Tanya are close friends who play for the Australian beach handball team. They both juggle full time jobs: Maca is a lawyer and Tanya a teacher. Tanya also has ulcerative colitis.
In this episode, Maca and Tanya discuss the pressures of managing professional careers and health on top of being elite athletes.
Experts interviewed include Debbie Beths (Tanya's mother), Dr. Steven D. Pearson (President, Institute for Clinical and Economic Review), Dr. Leonora Risse (Applied Economist, RMIT University), Ebiye Jeremy Udo-Udoma (USA Men's Beach Handball Team), and Janet McAffe (Madeleine's mother).
Audio clips from YouTube's Beach Handball - China vs Australia, ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019, Anne-Marie Slaughter: Can we all "have it all"?, and Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.
Kimberly Alkemade (Netherlands): Loss, Adventure & Blade Running
Kimberly didn’t start running until she was 27 -- she's now 30. In her 2019 debut race, the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, she came away with a silver and bronze medal in the 200m and 100m. She's seeking to compete on the Danish Para Track and Field Team in Tokyo.
When Kimberly was eight-years old she was in a bus crash that changed her life and how she approaches everything she does. This episode explores the world of running prosthetics, Kimberly's love of adventure, and her experiences of loss and grief.
NOTE: This episode contains themes that some people may find upsetting, including descriptions of depression and suicide.
Thank you to Producer Michelle Poulin for her terrific efforts spearing this episode!
Experts interviewed include Keith Antoine, Ken Endo, and Dr. Katherine Shear.
Audio clip from Women's 100m T64 Final | Dubai 2019 YouTube.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This podcast is a must listen. Every episode is original and discusses a different sport with challenges these athletes have had to face. It is great to hear from a diverse group of powerhouse female athletes who represent a broad variety of countries that will compete this summer. Really well produced, and I always look forward to the next one!
Must-listen for Olympic enthusiasts
Great way to learn about the Olympians and Paralympians who don’t always get significant media coverage but still have fascinating backstories
Really needed a pick me up and this DOES IT
I’ve been really struggling with the isolation of COVID and have been feeling extremely lonely. This podcast makes me feel connected to others, and allows me to see how we all are dealing with something, be it racial inequity, depression, or LGBTQ discrimination. Thank you for this shining beacon of hope during this otherwise dark and challenging time. A true pick me up even if the topics are heavy (aka they’re real, which is exactly what I would want).