Olympic joys, India hockey triumph, coral lifesaver, underwater museum

Aug 11, 2021 Episode 59

Olympic joy and good sportsmanship, India’s hockey triumphs, medicine for diseased coral and underwater sculpture museum

Episode Transcript



OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”




LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the podcast the New York Times calls a “news variety show.”


I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And FINALLY back in the studio (errr, our hi-tech closet anyway) is my Mama, otherwise known as my side-kick, producer and the big story explainer.


MAMA: Hello, hello, hello. I’m Lyndee Prickitt. And, hey, it’s good to be back. Thanks for letting me take a break!


LEELA: I guess you deserved it… And Porter Robbins, our sports correspondent who stepped in for you, did a great job. In fact, you know, I think he got pretty comfortable in your seat, so, you better watch out!


MAMA: Hmmmph! Well, it’s good to know I can take a break. But it’s even better to be back and refreshed!


LEELA: Ahhh, it’s good to have you here too, Mama. Come here! Now, this week on Newsy Pooloozi…


The Olympics have come to an end. It might have been a rough start – thanks to the pandemic – but what a show! We’ll share the best moments.


Including a special report on the amazing story of the Indian hockey team – both the men and the women players.


Also, some good news for coral reefs – there’s help at hand to fight the disease attacking some of them – and it might be something in your own medicine cabinet.


Speaking of the sea, we dive deep for the latest trend in eco-art. In fact, you could call it an “oddball art story.”


Now let’s get started, with the:


BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”



MAMA: So how many of y’all caught some of the stunning athletic feats at the 2020 Olympics?


LEELA: I did! And OMG – I never knew what humans were capable of! I mean did you see that bouldering?


MAMA: Oh, the sport climbing?


LEELA: Ah huh. And did you see the diving?


MAMA: Oh my gosh, I love diving. It’s my totally, totally my favorite!


LEELA: And the artistic swimming! How do they do that?


MAMA: And those super young skateboarders, doing all those flips.


LEELA: Even after scary falls during training!


MAMA: Or the Indian boxer who continued to compete despite getting seven stitches in an earlier match.


LEELA: And Simon Biles taking a break but coming back.


MAMA: Absolutely. And to think they’ve all had to wait an extra year because of COVID. And then there was all that controversy about the Japanese not want to host the Olympics and fans not being able to be there in person to watch. And yet –


LEELA: The games went on.


MAMA: And what grace the athletes showed. On and off the pitch. I mean, there were so many touching moments, showing sportsmanship at its best.


LEELA: Like the t-shirt exchange. (laughs)


MAMA: Yes, well, it was funny, but touching when the reigning badminton champion, China’s Chen Long, had the grace and wit to take off his shirt and exchange with the player who dethroned him, took him off the golden thrown –  Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.


LEELA: Annnnd when the South African swimmer –


MAMA: Ah, yes, Tatjana Schoenmaker.


LEELA: Yeah, when she looked completely surprised that she broke the world record and won gold.


MAMA: Well, I think she was just so overwhelmed with emotion –


LEELA: And then all of her opponents went over to her and surrounded her in a massive group hug! I loved that.


MAMA: I know. That reaction from opponents. Talk about being great sports. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it!


LEELA: Don’t cry, Mama!


MAMA: It’s ok – happy tears. But my favourite absolute moment was when the high-jumper from Qatar, Mutaz Barshim, who was tied in the top place with Italian high-jumper, Gianmarco Tamberi, well, he asked the Olympic official if they could SHARE the gold rather than go for a tie-breaker round.


SOUND FROM THE OLYMPICS OF Mutaz Essa Barshim ASKING: “Can we have two goals?” AND the OFFICIAL RESPONDING: “It’s possible.”


MAMA: The look on their face was sheer joy.


LEELA: And the Italian jumps up like a little kid and then runs all over the place – he was so happy!


MAMA: I know. Oh, my gosh. I mean, if you want to smile, if you want to feel humanity and joy – watch that clip.


LEELA: Seriously. (The link is in our transcript and our Facebook page, of course!)


MAMA: And we know America, Russia and China dominate the events, taking away the most medals. But for countries that might not be such powerhouses, every SINGLE medal is a massive triumph for the whole nation.


LEELA: And that was the case for my dear India. We won our first-ever gold in track-and-field!


MAMA: Yes. Neeraj Chopra is the men’s gold medallist in the javelin throw.


LEELA: Which is one of the oldest events in the Olympics, dating back to ancient times when the Greeks first created the games.


MAMA: That’s right. And India’s men’s hockey team won bronze.


LEELA: Waaahoo!


MAMA: And though India was devastated their women’s hockey team just missed out – the pride in those players is remains immense!


LEELA: Yes, we might be sad by their defeat. But – boy, oh, boy – are we all mesmerized and impressed by their hard work and talent.


MAMA: Absolutely.


LEELA: In fact, for more on the emotional story of India’s Olympic hockey teams, let’s go to our India sports correspondent, Yuvraj Sahni.


YUVRAJ: Thanks, Leela.


The Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been super special for India – and not just because we sent more players this year than ever before!


But also because our men’s hockey team ended a 41-year-old jinx.


Yep, we used to dominate in field hockey long ago.


Yet we haven’t managed a medal since 1980.


But this Olympics, the men’s hockey team defeated Germany to win a bronze medal!


As you can imagine – everyone watching (including me!) – went wild.


And even those who didn’t watch, beamed with pride when they heard the news.


As one commentator put it: “This Bronze Is Worth Its ‘Wait’ In Gold.”


But that wasn’t all.


The women’s field hockey came super-duper close to getting a bronze too, narrowly losing out to Great Britain.


While the bronze medal might have been lost – the hearts of India were certainly won.


Because, you see, most of the team come from very tough, impoverished backgrounds.


The team captain, Rani Rampal*, said she barely had two square meals of food a day when she was a young child.


For her, and most of the team, hockey was a way of escaping those hardships.


But it wasn’t easy.


Many people would tease the players, and their families, for letting girls “run around a field dressed in shorts.”


Never mind that here in India, there isn’t a lot of funding to support people training for the Olympics.


So the fact that our women’s hockey team went as far as they did has won over the country.


Rani said that all those who once teased and doubted her are now putting their daughters in hockey, telling them to be like her, to be like Rani Rampal.


In New Delhi, I’m Yuvraj Sahani, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.


LEELA: What a story! Thanks a lot for that report, Yuvraj. I wouldn’t mind being like Rani Rampal!


MAMA: Seriously, what grit those girls and women have. It’s so inspiring. You know, I think you said it last week, that the thing about the Olympics, is that (even if you you’re not that big into sports), when you start watching aaall that talent –


LEELA: – from all over the world, but united in friendly competition – you can’t help but be amazed!


MAMA: Absolutely.




WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”


MAMA: Record-breaking hot and dry weather, along with strong wind, in Europe is driving fires in Greece and Turkey, which have been battling blazes for over two weeks. Meanwhile, in California the so-called “Dixie” fire continues to rage with hot weather hindering, or hurting, the efforts of fire fighters.


Around 96,000 farmed salmon are dead after a chlorine leak in Norway. A nearby fish tank sent about 4,000 gallons of the disinfectant into an Arctic fjord, which is a long, narrow inlet of the sea between high cliffs.


Attention space-lovers! NASA’s taking applications for people to live in a small Martian habitat inside the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The paid volunteers will spend a year like they’re on a Martian mission, complete with spacewalks, limited communication back home, restricted food and plenty of equipment failures.


And Barbie’s going full STEM ahead – as it creates the vaccinologist Barbie, modelled on British Professor Sarah Gilbert – the co-creator of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid19 vaccine. The doctor said the gesture felt “strange” but hopes the doll will inspire young girls to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


LEELA: Thanks a lot for that zippity-zappity, whippity-whappity world wrap, Mama. And now it’s time for…


SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”   


LEELA: So we all know that coral reefs all over the world are under threat.


MAMA: And as a reminder, coral are “marine invertebreas” –


LEELA: Meaning they don’t have any backbones.


MAMA: Nope. They don’t. And a coral reef is a whole underwater ecosystem which protect fish and shorelines.


LEELA: And tourism – I mean, everyone wants to see the beautiful fish that live in them – so they’re vital to the tourism industry too.


MAMA: That’s a good point. But rising water temperatures, the changing chemistry of the ocean, and overfishing are destroying many reefs.


LEELA: But there may be some good news for coral – at least for some massive reefs off the coast of Florida.


MAMA: Aha – I think it’s time then that we head to our Florida correspondent, Lani Power.


LEELA: Take it away, Lani!


LANI: Thanks, Leela. As you said, corals are getting sick all over the world.


What people may not know is that there is now a way to treat some of them – kinda like the way we treat sick people, in fact.


The corals not far from me here in Florida and bits of the Caribbean have been infected with a disease found in 2014 called “stony coral tissue loss.”


In fact it’s infected around 20 species of coral in the area.


But fear not!


Florida researchers found that Amoxicillin, an antibiotic normally used for bacterial infections in humans can be used to help treat coral – with a 95% success rate!


How awesome is that?!


Amoxicillin is used to treat things like ear infections, which I can say from experience are not fun!


So how do sprawling marine invertebrates take antibiotics.


Well, no, they don’t have to swallow a pill.


Researchers use their hands to smear on a special paste on diseased coral.


When you see the video footage it looks like white rings on the coral when they were done!


While this method of treatment doesn’t stop new infections from happening, it stops the current infection from getting worse.


And that’s a big step forward on the path of saving the coral in our oceans!


In Central Florida, I’m Lani Power, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!




LEELA: Thanks a lot, Lani, for that report. Staying at the beach… Get your bathing suit on and let’s head to the museum.


MAMA: Huh? I’ve never worn my bathing suit to a museum!


LEELA: Well, there’s a first time for everything.


ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”


LEELA: So this story is technically an art story – but since it’s pretty unusual, we’re calling our oddball too. So if I say, “art museum,” what comes to mind?


MAMA: Well, some might say a dusty old building. But I love museums, so I’d say a vibrant building full of masterpieces.


LEELA: Why does it have to be a building?


MAMA: Umm… OK. I guess there are some outdoor museums. But not, usually, at the beach.


LEELA: Not AT the beach, Mama. UNDER the beach. Many beaches, in fact.




LEELA: Get you bathing suit and goggles on, folks!




LEELA: So, there’s a British sculptor named Jason deCairse Taylor, who’s on a mission. He’s passionate about the environment and so uses his talent underwater. Why? To help save our oceans, of course.


Over the years, he’s created nearly a thousand massive artworks and thrown ‘em overboard, to the sharks!


Just kidding.


He’s very deliberately submerged, or sunk, his work in carefully chosen places to create “underwater sculpture parks” all over the world.


And the latest one just opened off the coast of Cyprus, a tiny island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean.


MAMA: Super cool. I’d definitely dive to that museum. What do these things look like?


LEELA: Well, for a start, they’re very big.

In the Underwater Museum of Cannes, off the coast of France, Taylor has sculpted six massive faces, over 6 feet tall and weighing 10 tons (that’s heavier than most elephants!)!


One is the face of an 80-year-old fisherman. And another portrait is of a 9-year-old student. They all have their eyes closed. Some might say they’re peaceful. But I think they’re kinda eerie.


MAMA: Whoa, I think they’d be super cool to see.


LEELA: But the new Cyprus museum has 93 of his watery works.


MAMA: No way. That’s epic.


LEELA: I know, right? Swimmers with face masks or divers will be able to tour the  “underwater forest museum,” the first of its kind in the world.


MAMA: That’s on my bucket list, now, for sure.


LEELA: Well, there’s one creation we could see without getting wet. Get this, he’s created four ghostly horsemen on the banks of the River Thames in London – that slowly emerge from the water when it’s low tide!


MAMA: Ah! I love this artist! Gotta see his stuff. So what are they made of?


LEELA: Well, they look like stone or even concrete. (Of course we’ll have a link to these on our Facebook page and in our transcript.) But Taylor says his statues are made of non-toxic materials specifically designed to allow coral eggs and larvae to attach to them and, therefore, thrive.


MAMA: So awesome!


LEELA: That’s not all. The creases and folds in these mammoth statues provide the perfect refuge for tiny fish and crustaceans, or shell fish.


MAMA: Ah, so the sculpture park also becomes a breeding ground?


LEELA: That’s the idea – using art and nature to create change. He’s a big part of the growing “eco-art” movement in fact.



FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – The 2020 Olympics just finished, giving us many moments of joy. Which ancient nation first created the Olympics?

The ancient Greeks.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – India won it’s first-ever gold medal in track-and-field – in an event that dates back to ancient times. What was it?

The javelin throw.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – India used to thrive in what Olympic event that they’re now making a comeback in?

India used to be a powerhouse in field hockey and the men and women’s team are proving to once again be a force to reckon with.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – There’s some good news for diseased coral reefs off the coast of Florida. What’s coral again?

Coral are “marine invertebreas” – meaning they don’t have any backbones.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – The British sculptor Jason DeCaires Taylor has created another underwater sculpture park, this time off the coast of Cyprus, which will also act as a breeding ground for fish. He’s big in what new art movement?

The eco-art movement.


LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!




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