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…
Aug 26th, 2020 | 20:26

Lea Davison (USA): Mountain Biking & Queer Visibility

Lea Davison is a 2X Olympic Mountain Biker and 2016 World Championship silver medalist looking to qualify for her 3rd Olympics. Lea is unabashedly herself in all ways, including being open about her sexuality: Lea is gay. This episode takes a dive into some of Lea's professional cycling highlights, her co-founding of Little Bellas with sister, Sabra (a mountain biking/mentorship nonprofit for girls), and her decision to be open about her sexuality, which is something her sponsor Garneau, actively supports. Experts interviewed include Sabra Davison, Andy Bishop, Frazier Blair, Marie-Andree Vezina and Dr. Susan Cahn. Audio clip of Megan Rapino from ABC 30's LGBTQ athletes speak out proudly about what it means to be out in the world of pro sport. Audio clip of Gareth Thomas via ODN News' article, Rugby star Gareth Thomas reveals he's gay. Audio clip of Layshia Clarendon from her 6/22/17 Instagram post.
When most people think of Olympic athletes, words like “intensity,” and “focus” come to mind. “Humor” and “fun-loving” aren’t generally at the top of the list. This episode of the Flame Bearers podcast, however, introduces an athlete who is an incredible combination of athletic grit and light-heartedness: Lea Davison. Lea is a two-time Olympic mountain biker, as well as the 2016 World Championship silver medalist. While she is remarkable for her ability to compartmentalize and balance the two strands of her life and personality, her light side offers the reminder that elite athletes are real, breathing humans. Lea grew up in Vermont and fell in love with mountain biking in high school. According to sister and training partner, Sabra, Lea even then showed a zest and joy for life, was true to herself, and demonstrated adaptability, tenacity, positivity, and mental fortitude. Andy Bishop, a coach who worked with Lea and Sabra, adds that Lea demonstrated a fearless, no-holds-barred personality. These qualities came to the fore as Lea competed in the London and Rio Olympics and worked toward the Tokyo games, which were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside her mountain biking, Lea has been socially engaged in two major ways. First, she has worked with Little Bellas, a nonprofit she started with Sabra to introduce girls to the sport and provide female mentorship. Lea’s second strand of engagement arises from her position as a gay woman in professional sports. She has championed the cause of the LGBTQ community, worked against fear others in her situation tend to feel, and helped break down the sexualization and stereotyping within sports (explained by Dr. Susan Cahn of the University of Buffalo). As she uses her platform to bring change in both sport and society at large, it becomes clear that Lea is not cynical about obstacles, but is a door-opener for her community and its allies. Links: Learn more about Lea Davison, visit her website, and view her Olympics profile. Connect with Lea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Learn more about Little Bellas. Learn more about support Lea and her wife, Frazier, have received from Lea’s sponsors, Clif Bar & Co and Louis Garneau Sports. Here more from Lea and Frazier.