Iran’s female gymnast at the 1964 Olympics

You might have seen this headline – Kimia Alizadeh won a bronze medal for taekwondo at the 2016 summer Olympics:

Iran’s Only Female Olympic Medalist Says She Has Defected

I support Kimia’s desire to train in an environment that better supports women in sport.

The Medal Count posted a history of Women’s Gymnastics in Iran:

The Middle East has some of the worst participation rates for women in sports. …

For a sport where its athletes wear leotards, women’s artistic gymnastics (WAG) is one of the last sports these nations would ever consider due to modesty standards …

At the 1964 Olympics Iran sent women to the Olympics for the first time in its history. …

Djamileh Sorouri was only 14 years old …

She had even been sent to the Olympics without her coach. …

In response Vera Caslavska and the Czechoslovakian team stepped in. They took Djamileh Sorouri under their wing and had the young Iranian train alongside them in the buildup to the Olympics. …

The 1964 Olympics would be both the beginning and the end of Iranian Olympic gymnastics. The country hasn’t sent a gymnast from either genders to the Olympics since. …

When Iran had Women’s Gymnastics

IOC on keeping politics out of sport

Simone — for example — is welcome to express her views on any topic during an Olympic Press conference, but not on the podium.

Olympic leaders have long sought to keep political displays out of the international competition.

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which serves as the foundational rulebook for the Games, prohibits athletes from any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda.”

But the three-page document published Thursday by the IOC sought to provide more detail and nuance to that long-standing rule. It specified the locations where protests will not be allowed, including the field of play, the Olympic Village and during medal ceremonies and opening and closing ceremonies.

It also outlined times that athletes will be allowed to express political views: In press conferences, at team meetings or on digital media platforms.

“It should be noted that expressing views is different from protests and demonstrations,” the guidelines say. …

USA Today

talking to your gymnast on the car ride home

… it is in the best interest of youth athletes if their parents support their athletic experiences no matter the level of competition they play in. …

Frost believes parents who put too much pressure on their kids, especially during that ‘car ride home,’ will chase them away from sports. If a kid is afraid to get into the car ride home after a bad game, it is unlikely he will want to continue to play.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Rachael Denhollander on USAG

Guardian: It’s been more than three years now since you came forward and this movement started. How do you feel about everything USA Gymnastics has done since?

Rachael Denhollander: Disappointed. They have completely refused any shred of transparency and accountability.

They have refused to identify even one thing that went wrong. They have refused to identify even one coach that was abusive or one abusive situation, to point to something and say, hey, we shouldn’t have allowed that.

And if you cannot even acknowledge the problem, you cannot fix the problem. …

Rachael Denhollander: ‘When you speak out against your own community, you lose everything’

Coaching Ethics

Some reminders from the Coaching Association of Canada:

• Physical safety & health of athletes
– safe environment
– emergency preparedness

• Coaching responsibly
– foster self-esteem
– know one’s limitations
– maintain confidentiality of personal information

• Integrity in relations with others
– fairness
– no harassment

• Respect of athletes
– everyone treated equally

• Honouring sport
– respect all participants including officials

• Professional development

Hardy Fink leaves FIG end of February

Hardy Fink is currently the Director of Education and Academy Programmes for FIG. He organises, amongst other things, FIG Academies, FIG Age Group Programme and Olympic Solidarity courses. All things education for 7 FIG competition disciplines – ACR, AER, MAG, PK, RG, TRA, WAG.

For some time Hardy has been asking for a transition plan to a successor. His is a massive job and not many in the world have the experience, knowledge and contacts to make it work.

Hardy has attend more World Championships & Olympics than anyone, for example. Stuttgart was his 32nd Worlds in series.

Shockingly, Hardy’s contract will not be renewed after February 29, 2020. And there’s no FIG transition plan.

Coaches around the world should be alarmed.

His office administrator in Switzerland will probably be off work on maternity leave, as well.

The only positive note is that Hardy has been asked to consult with his replacement over the next couple of years. In my opinion, that would be essential or FIG coach education opportunities will plummet.

related – Dvora Meyer’s recent interview with Hardy (for subscribers)

Russia will appeal the Olympic ban

Russia has been kicked out of international events for four years, with no official team, officials, flag or anthem allowed at Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships. It is a ban on a Russian identity at these events. Nor can they host.

Russia, meanwhile, is set to appeal via the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), and has portrayed the sanction as excessive, unfair and politically motivated.


Putin loves sport. There’s overwhelming evidence of top-down government sponsored doping in Russia, though not in the Gymnastics sports.

Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.

Around the Rings

The WADA Executive Committee unanimously endorsed the ban. I think it should and will stick.