Margo Burke has done lots of sports already in her life and is now very stuck on speed skating, which she’s been doing since she was 9 years old. She is now12, just started middle school (it’s better than she thought it would be). In our conversation she is so clear in her explanation of the sport, her skates, training sessions, competitions, and everything she likes about the sport.

Hearing Margo talk was a wonderful reminder of what it’s like to be relatively new to a sport – learning the basics and enjoying that progress. She and I also get into a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – what’s the role of sport in our lives? How good do we have to be? And who is athletic? Margo impresses me because even though she says she’s not very good, she keeps doing it and stays enthusiastic. She actually has some big goals for herself.

There’s definitely something about just getting out there and doing it, learning something new, and moving forward with a lot of practice. There’s also something to be said for being physically active with no Olympic Dreams.

Margo tells me about WWII, what she’s reading, and her political views.  
For a moment, I forgot that she is so young and asked if she was politically active. She responds that as a 12 year old there’s a limit to what she can do.

Below are links to the books Margo mentions. I’ve also included some links to videos showing the dry-land training exercises she does because as we mention in our conversation, it’s hard to explain them in words. A quick feminist note: Sometimes it’s so hard to find this kind of video showing women athletes! This time US Speed Skating came through! A nod to them.

Share this with kids you know. It’s a perfect episode for them and for anyone else who might be reluctant to start a new sport, or something they’ve been a bit afraid of.

If you’re not a kid, don’t let Margo’s age deter you from listening, this is a good one.

Elephant In Our Garden, by Michael Morpurgo
Daniel’s Story, by Carol Matas
The Only Thing To Fear, by Caroline Tung Richmond
Live in Infamy, by Caroline Tung Richmond

Both these videos show just how low speed skaters get when training and competing.
Up Downs video
Dryland training videos

Just before the PyeongChang Olympics, I was lucky enough to talk to speed skater Elena Rigas from Denmark, who competed in the mass start event. Listen in Episode 29.