I have officially listened to my first sports podcast! As someone who pretends to reject my natural competitive nature, this is a momentous event. I found Blind Landing on Twitter just before Simone Biles pulled out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I decided to dive into something different. This seemed like a good moment for a different podcast (not true crime).
Blind Landing is a bite sized series of five, 25 minute episodes. Hosted by Ari Saperstein, the narrative centers on the 2000 Sydney Olympics women’s All Around competition. In a year full of doping and age scandals, the issue of the women’s All Around seems small in comparison. Yet this is the biggest mistake to have happened on such a stage. Eight competitors fell on the vault. Eight of the highest ranked athletes in the world, fell -all before an Australian gymnast noticed something was wrong. The mistake, and the subsequent falls- permeated the competition through each event. In reality, these women were stripped of their competition due to basic human error, and even more, could have been catastrophically injured. This apparent mishandling leads some gymnasts to conclude that no one actually won the Women’s All Around that year. In light of the other scandals that year, it was essentially a blip on the radar.
Blind Landing gives it its own spotlight just time time for the 2020 reboot of the Summer Games in Tokyo. This podcast is an excellent example of true crime vibes without being true crime. Full of suspense, this podcast has exceptional forward momentum. American, Australian, British, and Russian competitors from the Sydney Olympics recount their memories of the day to reflect on the controversy now. Sitting at about 25 minutes each, I flew through this show with ease. It is an exemplar for independent storytelling and reporting.
What is fair competition? What happens when the rules are arguably applied the wrong way? How to we reconcile these questions? The answer will unquestionably change over time. This is only one example of fair scenario. To answer these questions, Blind Landing uses the controversy of the 2000 games as a case study. In reality, only time will give us the answers to what these things “mean” to anyone other than the competitors. As Blind Landing shows in the end, this was a kick in the gut. However, what happens sometimes leads to paths previously unconsidered.
I can’t think of a little human that didn’t think of what it would be like to be a gymnast flying through the air. we know a little more of the culture and pressure that permeates the elite olympic competitors. Watching gymnastics fills me with wonder, and Blind Landing was an excellent compliment to the Tokyo games this year. In a sport full of controversy,I look forward to what these stories can empower in teams to support their competitors. In and out of gymnastics we have much to learn about teamwork and trusting each other’s guts.
Listen to Blind Landing wherever you get your podcasts.