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We want to honor Alejandra’s story to the best of our abilities, so because of the holidays and New Year, we will publish her episode next Wednesday, 1/4. That said, here’s a bit of what you can expect.

Alexa is a 2x Olympian (Tokyo and Rio) and the first Mexican woman to win a World Championship Medal. She’s one of the 100 most powerful women in Mexico (via Forbes Magazine), yet according to her manager, Frida Martinez, “She doesn’t know she’s a role model. That’s her superpower. She doesn’t know she’s that big.”

When Aline was 15 years old, she was in a car accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. That said, she says “sport changed my life, not the accident.” According to Aline sport gave her wings, the ability to travel, and to meet people from all over the world.

Becky Sauerbrunn is on the US Women’s National Soccer Team and has been the rock of the back line for the last 8 years. She’s an Olympic gold medalist and has played in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, won the 2015 and 2019 World Cup championships, and recently became the US Women’s National Team Players Association President.

flame bearers' athletes

Flame Bearers elevates the stories of elite women athletes via short form video

our athletes are the foundation of our work. we tell their stories, how they want them told

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video trailers teasing some of our work

flame bearers' family members, friends or subject matter experts

no athlete is an island, so we interview the people who are the support systems, mentors, confidants and so much more to our flame bearers

YouTube Interview with National Women's Fitness Academy, New Zealand

For the first time in 38 years, the original members of the US Women’s National Soccer Team got back together for a weekend of celebration and long-overdue acknowledgement. Spearheaded by

Firm For the Culture provides trademark services for social enterprises and entrepreneurs. They are dedicated to equipping founders and companies aiming to generate revenue while effecting meaningful social impact, with

Father-son duo, Cam & Otis, dissect challenges in leadership and entrepreneurship. From veterans, researchers and high powered entrepreneurs to pro athletes and CEOs of million dollar companies; Cam and Otis

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Rita Asiimwe

badminton, Uganda

Danusia Francis

Gymnastics, Jamaica

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Bradie Tennell​

Figure Skating, USA

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US Olympic bronze medalist and 2X National Champion figure skater, Bradie Tennell has already made a career out of breaking records…and unfortunately her feet. As of Dec. 31 2021, (just after this interview was recorded), Bradie made the tough decision to withdraw from figure skating Nationals due to her chronic foot injury. Though Bradie’s path to the Beijing Olympics ends here, her journey is well worth celebrating as a fantastic example of her prioritizing herself and her love of the sport over pushing and risking life-long injury.

In this episode, we talk about Bradie’s passion for figure skating, her decision to opt out of Nationals, and how she overcomes hardship.

Camila Pirelli goes by Cami, Pirelli, or Pantera Guaraní, the Guaraní Panther; Guarani is the language, and culture of the community of people Camila belongs to, and for Camila, it’s important to honor where she comes from. Today, we spotlight Paraguayan track and field star, Pantera, who holds more than a dozen gold and silver medals nationally. Her expertise is Heptathlon, a 7-event competition including the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter run, long jump, javelin, and 800-meter run. All that to say, she’s the real deal…and in 7 events! In our conversation she shares about her upbringing in Paraguay, mental health and body image.

Carlotta Nwajide is not only a Vice World and European Champion, but also an outspoken activist who leads by thoughtful example. She believes that inaction is action in and of itself, whether it comes to racism or environmentalism.

Carlotta grew up competing as the only black rower in her community and knows what it’s like to be known for her skin color before people see her character. She fell in love with our planet during the many hours she’s rowed outdoors and has taken it upon herself to minimize the environmental impact of the entire Germany Rowing Team. Now at age 25 and on her way to Tokyo, she’s using her platform to create positive social change for antiracism and environmentalism.

It’s been a while since the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, but we wanted to amplify and celebrate a voice the world missed in Japan. 2x Olympic gold medalist and 3x World Champion runner, Caster Semenya was barred from competing in her events because of her higher than ‘normal’ testosterone levels. Caster was legally blocked by the International Association of Athletics Federations (now World Athletics) from competing unless she changed her natural body via hormone shots, surgery, or birth control pills. She didn’t.

At age five, Danusia Francis watched Elena Zamolodchikova of Russia compete on TV, and decided then and there that she wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. 22 years later, Danusia’s dream is coming true: she’ll be Jamaica‘s second-ever Olympic gymnast.

Flame Bearers is the first global storytelling platform, illuminating the unsung stories of resilient women Olympians & Paralympians. We are a community driving positive change, building connections, and creating a space where women athletes feel valued and empowered to share their stories. We tell stories via podcast, video and live events, giving women Olympians & Paralympians a platform to share their trials and triumphs, discuss what life is like outside the games, what matters most to them, and bring unique perspectives to their stories. These stories deserve to be heard. Because they inspire us, help us to understand the world better, and move us to tap into our own resilience.

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.”

Dr. Seun Adigun is the first African to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. She spearheaded the first female bobsled team from her country, and track and field runner but that’s not all, she’s also a biomechanist, chiropractor and founder. According to Dr. Adigun, “You have to pave the way so that others can follow.” She’s deeply dedicated to making sure that while she was the first, she’s not the last. In today’s episode, we discuss her commitment to diversity and equity within the Olympic movement.

Eliza Stone showed up to her first fencing class in a dress and little patent leather shoes because she wanted to make a good first impression. In tow, came siblings Robert Junior and Gracie. Flash forward to today, she’s currently ranked as the #6 fencer in the world.

2019 Women’s Afrobasket MVP, Ezinne Kalu plays for the reigning African champions, Nigeria’s D’Tigress. While most know Ezinne for her talent on the court, she’s also jumped headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship; she’s launched her own cosmetics company, Kalu Kosmetics, and an organization empowering young girls who want to play basketball, the Kalu Team Heat.

When Haydy Morsy 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.

While most know Danish Olympic Rower, Ida Jacobsen for her prowess on the water, she’s also a political science junkie and cheese expert (much to the chagrin of her boyfriend, Samir). Ida decided she was going to compete in the Olympics shortly after her first time rowing 12 years ago. Therefore, the current postponement of the Tokyo Games really made Ida question her identity and sources of motivation.

In this episode, we speak with 4X Pan American Games‘ gold medallist and soon to be 2X Canadian Olympic Jacqueline Simoneau. At home, she’s Jacqueline and in the pool, she goes by Jackie. We hear how her journey to the Olympic pool has been “synchronized” with hard work, a touch of glamour and the loving support of family and friends. We explore how the sport of artistic swimming evolved from the days of vaudeville as well as how gender plays a role in unexpected ways.

Jessica Long is one of the most successful athletes in Paralympic Games‘ history, holding 23 medals with 13 of them being gold. As she heads into her fifth Paralympics, Jessica shares that while her gold medals are “super cool”, for her, it’s “really about the journey.”

Kamila started taekwondo when she was 9 years old and was the only girl on the team; years later, she’s still the only woman, this time on Kazakhstan’s Parataekwondo Paralympic team. In this episode, we speak with Kamila and her coach, Sultan, with the help of her friend and colleague, Meyept, Manager, National Paralympic Committee of Kazakhstan who translated our conversation live from Russian. In this conversation we discuss what it’s meant for Kamila to be the only woman throughout her journey as well as how she’s navigated her disability.

Katarina Roxon grew up on the island of Newfoundland, so at an early age, her parents, Leonard and Lisa thought that it was important she learn to swim. 20 years later, Roxon brought home her first medal, a gold in the 100-m breaststroke in Canadian record time during the 2016 Paralympics.

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.

23-year old Qatari track star Kenza Sossé, qualified for Tokyo, and then days before her flight to Japan, tested positive for COVID-19. After years training for the Olympics, she had watch from a room in Morocco. Her response? She “went back to training harder than ever.” In today’s conversation, Kenza Sossé shares for the first time publicly about the pain of her Olympic dreams being deferred and how she has channeled her frustration into progress towards Paris. Kenza also shares about her commitment to the Arab Women’s Movement and common misconceptions about the Arab world including the idea that Arab women are always “in the kitchen, taking care of the babies.” Citing her two business startups and the book she wrote, she replies, “My babies are my businesses right now, my book and my sport. So if these count as my babies, then yes, I am a very typical Arab woman. ” Production team’s favorite quote: “After hearing my story, every listener will be thinking of a passion or something they’ve always wanted to do. My last message will be to do it. To start whatever it is that comes to mind. Do not be afraid of failure.”

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 she 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, and her love of adventure, and her experiences of loss and grief.

Paralympic 100M bronze medalist and World Championship silver medalist, Kym Crosby has ‘limited sight, limitless dreams.’ Kym is legally blind, but she hasn’t let that stand in the way of anything she sets her mind to, including becoming one of the world’s fastest women.

Lea Davison is a 2X Olympic Mountain Biker and 2016 World Championship silver medalist looking to qualify for her 3rd Olympics. Lea is unabashedly herself in all ways, including being open about her sexuality: Lea is gay.

Liu Jiayu’s nickname is ‘Birdie’. It’s what her friends and family call her, and she’s had a soaring career as a snowboard pioneer, inspiring an explosion in popularity of her sport and a brand new generation of Chinese boarders.

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.

Six-time French National Champion Mae-Berenice Meite talks to Golden Skate about her motivated come-back after out for a torn Achilles tendon and the challenges that she faced.

 

Manasi Joshi is India’s current Para-badminton World Champion and BBC India’s Sportswoman of the year. One day on her way to work, a truck ran into Manasi; hours dragged on before she received treatment, and her leg eventually needed to be amputated.

Reigning Olympic gold medalist, Mariama Jamanka never thought the words ‘Olympic Champion’ would apply to her, as a relative newcomer to bobsledding and as a member of the former 2nd German sled. In PyeongChang, Mariama and brakewoman, Lisa Buckwitz shattered all expectations, shocking the world by winning gold.

Mialitiana (Mia) is the first woman Winter Olympian from Madagascar and her goal is to “inspire all Africans.” While she grew up in France with her adoptive parents, a big part of Mia’s identity is as a Malagasy, and she wants to be living proof that a black African woman can reach the top in this sport.

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.

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.

At the age of four, Ni Nengah Widiasih lost use of her legs at age four due to polio. In Rio she made history, becoming Indonesia’s first Paralympic powerlifting medalist. Ni Negah is a firm believer that ‘You were born to stand out, to be appreciated and loved for who you are.’

Nicky Nieves is a middle blocker on the USA’s Sitting Volleyball team, and a Rio Paralympic gold medalist. She is an Afro Latina and an outspoken advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, spearheading conversations about race on her team and via social media.

Noelle Lambert played in the dirt and on the field with her older brothers, watching the Pats, Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox. She was always active, keeping up with the boys. Flash forward to college at UMass Lowell where Noelle is playing Division 1 lacrosse, and she’s in an accident that changes everything. While riding a moped, she’s sideswiped by a truck and loses her leg.

To date, Ray Bassil is the only Lebanese athlete who has qualified for Tokyo, but Ray is used to blazing her own trails: she was the first Arab female Olympic Trapshooter, a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Ammunition Line entrepreneur, Academy founder, and servant leader for her country of Lebanon. She’s definitely someone to keep in your crosshairs!

In this episode, we speak with 6x World Champion medalist in trap shooting, Ray Bassil, who has broken nearly every possible barrier in her home country of Lebanon. We discuss the challenges she faces living in Lebanon during a global pandemic and the recent explosion in Beirut. Lastly, we explore Ray’s leadership for her country and the United Nations Development Program for youth and gender equality.

Ritah lost her hand when machete and hammer-wielding thieves broke into her Grandma’s house in 2005. Today, Ritah is the African Para Badminton Champion and was one of only four Ugandan Paralympians who participated in the Tokyo Paralympics.

Today she opens up about losing her hand, and how she’s moved forward (including relearning how to write after becoming left-handed). Her north star? Making the best of every day. According to Ritah, “I never feel cheated because I saved so many livest.” And it was very important that her that who and how she acted didn’t change after the attack either. According to her close friend and classmate, Earn Madrine Nabiwemba “coming back to school with one arm, she was like, you people do not feel sorry for me. This is the same old Ritah and I’m going to do everything I’ve been doing before now with one arm. Don’t feel sorry for me. Treat me the way you’ve been treating me.”

Sam Mewis grew up flipping over rocks in the woods of Massachusetts hunting for salamanders, while Lynn Williams grew up on a pecan farm with her “huge family of non-farmers” in Clovis, California. Flash forward and the two are inseparable. According to Sam & Lynn, they’re in a “very serious platonic friendship.” As former roomies who dominated the field together, gone through injuries and covid together, and yes, even podcasted together, they’ve seen each other through it all. As huge fans and supporters of their podcast, SNACKS, we thought it would be fun to have the duo onto Flame Bearers together. So this episode is a bit different than our normal ones, but we’re going with it! This week, soccer superstars Sam & Lynn talk about their upbringings, time in and after Tokyo and getting in front of the mic.

Sanda Aldass is a Syrian refugee, living in the Netherlands with her husband (who is also her coach) and their three children. She’s a current International Olympic Committee (IOC) Refugee Athlete Scholarship-Holder, the elite group amongst which the 2021 Refugee Team will be selected.

Sarah Davies is Great Britain’s best ever female weightlifter on a pound for pound basis, lifting between 100-125kg (or 220-275 lbs) depending on the event, snatch or clean and jerk. She’s also an international beauty pageant queen. Sarah’s journey is about defying convention, whether it’s in beauty pageantry or weightlifting: she goes for what she wants, and takes action for what she believes is right, even when she has to go against the grain. Across the worlds of sport and pageantry, Sarah is breaking unspoken rules of convention.

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.

Sofia grew up wanting to do everything her older brother, Tommaso did, so when he took to the slopes, she begged her Mom to let her join. At 6, she forecasted her future: she wanted to be a famous ski racer who would win World Cups. Flash forward to today, and she’s crowned the ‘queen of speed’ with 3x World Cup Downhill title wins and 2x Olympic medals including the first for Italy in her discipline (downhill). That said, Sofia wants her episode to focus on her comebacks, and how she’s responded to countless injuries including what she describes as the most challenging time of her life: the 23 days between her debilitating crash in Cortina and taking home silver in Beijing 2022. You read that right… She could barely walk, yet she won silver in the Olympic downhill, the fastest event on skis.
When asked about what moment (skiing or not) she’s most proud of, she cites two moments: her Olympic gold, and her continuous growth; “The thing that makes me most proud of myself is when I see that I’m becoming a better person.” Her goal is to leave a mark on everything she does and everyone with whom she interacts. “I want to make a difference, and it’s not only skiing but everything I do. It is good to leave a piece of you in everyone you meet.” She cites her incredible support team including her sponsor, Red Bull, as well as friend and mentor, Lindsey Vonn (see quote in podcast graphic) for helping her get to where she is today.

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.

Sue Bird is one of the most iconic athletes in the world: she’s been a professional athlete for 20 years, won 5 gold Olympic medals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020) and has become one of the most outspoken advocates for social change. Further, between her Olympic and FIBA World Cup medals, she holds the most medals of any basketball athlete in the world (male or female). She also holds 4 WNBA and 2 NCAA Championships.

In this episode, we focus on Sue’s commitment to social change and her legacy to the sport. We hear from Sue’s big sis, Jen, on how Sue has changed over the years (and why she is so proud of her), former teammate and Coach, Hall of Fame athlete, Coach Dawn Staley, Professional Basketball star, Marina Mabrey, and Sue’s two nieces, Zoe (age 9) and Alex (age 7). We hear how Sue got into sports (hint: Jen played a big role), how she’s always stomped the pavement for others, and her hopes for the future of basketball.

Tamara (Tami) was introduced to table tennis in a rehabilitation center: Tami was born with spina bifida and had a life expectancy of 18. She is now 23 years old, the first Chilean table tennis player to win gold at the Parapan American Games, and on her way to Tokyo. Tamara’s ability to reach and connect with a wide range of people is almost as impressive as her constantly changing colored hair (most recently red, and purple before), and she’s leveraged those skills to become an outspoken advocate for members of the disabled community.

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).

Victoria considers herself a proud “Puerto Rican American.” Having grown up in the Houston, Texas area, she “was considered a Latina,” but then when she went to Puerto Rico, she “was seen as American.” According to Victoria, for some, her personal identity falls in a bit of a “gray area.” In today’s interview, we spotlight Taekwondo superstar Victoria Stambaugh. She talks about her Puerto Rican identity, and strong faith being her guide. Victoria opens up about how she primarily identifies as a child of God and what this means to her. Massive thank you to Victoria for trusting us to elevate her story!

Yip Pin Xiu is a “born and bred city girl’, having grown up in Singapore with her close-knit family flying kites, playing in the sand pool, and at five, getting in the with her brothers. Swimming started as a family activity. Fast forward to 2008, and Pin Xiu became Singapore’s first ever Paralympic gold medalist. She now has 5 Paralympic golds and 5 World Championships. She was the first para-athlete in Singapore’s Sports Hall of Fame (2015) and a proud inductee of the Women’s Hall of Fame (2014). And while Pin Xiu changed the face of sport in Singapore, her impact hasn’t been limited to the pool. Yes, Pin Xiu has all of the honors and titles one can dream of, but she talks more about her commitment to inclusion for all than the medals around her neck. Having grown up in a time when there wasn’t a lot of representation for people with disabilities, Pin Xiu is determined to be a voice people hear and a body people see. According to Pin Xiu, “being disabled does not mean unable. Being disabled does not disqualify me” and she hopes to be a voice not for” just the disabled community, but also the sporting community, women, everyone.”

Zahra Nemati is arguably Iran’s most popular female athlete. While she grew up competing in taekwondo, after a car accident left her legs paralyzed, she decided to pick up a bow and arrow at the age of 21. Zahra’s physical disability allows her to qualify for the Paralympics, but she also was also the first to beat out many able-bodied athletes to additionally qualify for the Iranian Olympic team.

To kick off Season 2, we speak with 2x Russian Paralympian (soon to be 3x), biathlete and wheelchair racer, Akzhana Abdikarmova. She shares what it means to represent the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and sheds light on the invisibility of disability in Russia, how it has evolved, and how it hasn’t over the past 30 years.

Akzhana grew up with spina bifida and is constantly looking for ways to inspire local youth with disabilities; that’s why she started several Instagram accounts amplifying the experiences of disabled athletes (@Gromova Team and @Gromovateam_junior) . Akzhana says that young para athletes are the individuals who motivate her the most, especially throughout the pandemic when she’s been largely isolated: “I need to be their motivation and their role model. I’m doing this for them.”

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=984516049142700

This weekend Flame Bearers is headed to Asheville, North Carolina to honor the original USWNT (1985). The team is conducting video and podcast interviews. Photo attached (credit US Soccer Federation)

Flame Bearers athlete panel moderated by Founder, Jamie Mittelman at Harvard's annual women's conference
Flame Bearers panel discussion at invite only Super Bowl cocktail party with accomplished athletes, seasoned professionals, influential personalities, corporate executives, and brand decision-makers discussing creating more space for women in

TLDR: ✨ With the #WomensWorldCup fast approaching, let’s honor those on whose shoulders we stand. Send a note/video to the FIRST US Women’s National Soccer Team (1985) about the impact they had

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We think you’ll love these

Rita Asiimwe

badminton, Uganda

Danusia Francis

Gymnastics, Jamaica

Sarah Davies

Weightlifting, Great Britain

Bradie Tennell​

Figure Skating, USA

Deja Young

Track & Field, USA

Diede de Groot

tennis, Netherlands

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