Flame Bearers: Keeping the Fire Burning

Flame Bearers: Keeping the Fire Burning spotlights women Olympians and Paralympians who sought to compete in the Tokyo Summer or Beijing Winter Olympi…
Jan 13th, 2021 | 32:38

Kimberly Alkemade (Netherlands): Loss, Adventure & Blade Running

Kimberly didn’t start running until she was 27 -- she's now 30. In her 2019 debut race, the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, she came away with a silver and bronze medal in the 200m and 100m. She's seeking to compete on the Danish Para Track and Field Team in Tokyo. When Kimberly was eight-years old she was in a bus crash that changed her life and how she approaches everything she does. This episode explores the world of running prosthetics, Kimberly's love of adventure, and her experiences of loss and grief. NOTE: This episode contains themes that some people may find upsetting, including descriptions of depression and suicide. Thank you to Producer Michelle Poulin for her terrific efforts spearing this episode! Experts interviewed include Keith Antoine, Ken Endo, and Dr. Katherine Shear. Audio clip from Women's 100m T64 Final | Dubai 2019 YouTube.
Learn the importance of consistent reflection and seeking the help that you need. In this episode, Dutch sprinter Kimberly Alkemade encourages the listeners to learn how to not run from your pain. She shares about her own experiences and the depths of trials that both depression and suicide can bring into one’s life. Kimberly shares her adventure, her love for running, and her own experiences of loss and grief. The conversation starts with a brief background in Kimberly’s career in the Paralympics. She did not even start running until she was 27 years old! She shares about her traumatic bus accident at age 8 that resulted in the death of her mother and the loss of her own leg. Carried into her own mother’s funeral on a hospital bed, Kimberly was a determined child who showed her family everything would be alright. While her trials pressed her to grow up faster and see life in a new way, it was not until she was 27 years old that Kimberly felt like she gained hope in a new way with receiving her first running blade. Kimberly had learned how fleeting life was through the bus accident, and continually works to experience life to its fullest—from learning to breathe in cold water, to her her camping experiences, and eventually running. Gain insight from a conversation with Ken Endo, engineer and CEO of Xiborg, who is passionate about improving the technology of prosthetics. Ken has dedicated his career to developing these prosthetics in hopes to help change culture through technology. Learn of a future vision where running blades are available for all. Kimberly shares her testimony of how the running blade catalyzed her forward and shifted her mentality for life. How does mentality affect athletic performance? Hear from Kimberly’s perfor-mance coach, Keith Antoine, and how he has taught Kimberly to learn day-by-day and focus on capturing her thoughts. He sees Kimberly’s potential to change the entire Paralympics competition! Learn about the second major tragedy in Kimberly’s life, the death of her aunt -- who she says was her friend, and second mother -- after her long struggle with depression. Keith shares about how we cannot “take away” the events or tragedies, but rather we must learn how to process what has happened. The present and the past must not sabotage one another. Emotions are complicated, but as a society we cannot continue on pretending as though death does not exist. Dr. Katherine Shear, professor of Psychiatry at The Columbia School of Social Work, discusses the details of treating people with grief. She works to help people feel comfortable talking about it and shares about the intricacies of prolonged-grief disorder. What is grief, and how does it connect to loss and depression? Learn about Dr. Shear’s 7 step treatment model for those experiencing grief, and the 6 derailers. The episode comes to a close as Kimberly vulnerably talks about the loss of her mother and her aunt, and how the grief following each was very different. Why is loss so rarely discussed? In the end, it is all about adapting to grief, rather than overcoming it—grief is permanent. Find the way that works for you and what you need. How we respond is what makes the difference! Subscribe and leave us a review! Thanks for your support! Links: Check out Kimberly Alkemade’s blog. Connect with Kimberly on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more about Ken Endo. Find out more on Dr. Katherine Shear. Learn more about Dr. Shear’s work here. Check out more on the Flame Bearers website. Connect with Flame Bearers on Instagram and Facebook.