WXXI AM News

Olympics

The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang are now in the books, and like after many Olympics, a number of think pieces have cropped up online asking the question, “Do the Games still matter?” Between the inflated costs of bidding to become a host city, to constructing venues that often become white elephants after competition, to dwindling ratings on television, many people say the Olympics are more trouble than they're worth. But others point to more positive effects: the surge of interest in sports following the games, boosts in national pride, and the potential to introduce new parts of the world to those who may not otherwise see them.

What do you think? Are the Olympics still relevant? Our guests weigh in:

Drew Broderick

A Pittsford couple left the Rochester Airport on Tuesday,  headed to South Korea to see their son compete in the Winter Olympics.

Bernie and Jamie Lillis are on their way to join up with Jon Lillis, the 23 year old man who is on the U.S. Aerial Ski Team.  His father says his son has been dreaming of being an Olympian since he was a little boy, and starting to train at Bristol Mountain.

We sit down with Rochester's Mike Ingham, the U.S. Sailing 2017 Coach of the Year. He coached the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team to a silver medal at the games in Rio last summer, and coached the team to a world championship title in Holland. His athletes have remarkable stories of coming back from tragedy. Ingham is also the head of GRAAF, the Greater Rochester Amateur Athletic Foundation, which is already looking ahead to the next Olympic games.

In 1948, defeated presidential candidate Strom Thurmond told cheering supporters that de-segregation would never happen. He promised that white Americans would never be forced to share their churches...or their swimming pools. Thurmond's remark is one example of an era when black Americans were kept out of public pools for a variety of stunningly racist reasons. One result is that a great many black Americans today can't swim, and don't.

The triumph of USA swimmer Simone Manuel at the Olympics has shined a light on our history, and points a way to a better future. Our panel discusses America in the pool, and how to bring more equality. Our guests:

  • Marty Keating, Pittsford swim coach
  • Iala Cropper, swimmer for Fairport Area Swim Team
  • Andre Cropper, Iala Cropper's father
  • Marci Callan, head coach and general manager for Fairport Swimming
  • MJ Truex, director of programs and services for club development for USA Swimming

There's been a public debate about sexist language used by broadcasters and print reporters at the Olympic Games. From descriptions of gymnasts who look so calm they "could be at the mall," to deflecting credit to husbands and male coaches, journalists have been under the microscope. Critics say these Olympics demonstrate the double standards and casual sexism that exist in day-to-day life. Others argue that we're being too sensitive. Our guests discuss it:

  • Barbara LeSavoy, director and assistant professor of women and gender studies at SUNY Brockport
  • Patti Singer, clean living reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle who spent more than 10 years covering professional sports for several newspapers

What does it take for athletes to fulfill their Olympic and Paralympic dreams? Talent, training, and coaching, of course, but what about funding? One local Olympic hopeful says between coaching and training costs, hotel room fees and living expenses, medical bills, competition entry fees, and plane tickets, the costs can amount to $25,000 per year.

A local non-profit's mission is to provide financial support to athletes. We learn about the Greater Rochester Amateur Athletic Federation (GRAAF) from former and current grant recipients. Our guests:

  • Mike Ingham, president of GRAAF and former GRAAF recipient (Olympic sailing)
  • Miranda Melville, current GRAAF recipient (training for Olympic trials in race walking)
  • Anja Pierce, current GRAAF recipient (training for trials in para-kayaking)
  • Emily Wright, current GRAAF recipient (training for Olympic trials in kayaking)
  • Iris Zimmerman, member of GRAAF's Board of Directors and former GRAAF recipient (Olympic fencing)

Pole Vaulter Aims For New Heights And Olympic Gold

Apr 23, 2012

The world's top-ranked female pole vaulter spends a great deal of time in an airplane hangar outside Rochester, N.Y.

But you won't find Jenn Suhr on an airfield. The 30-year-old is behind the house she shares with her husband and coach, Rick Suhr, in a hangar custom-adapted for training.

And with a silver medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics under her belt, Jenn is hoping to qualify for her second Olympic Games.

Until then, she's working with Rick to jump ever higher.