CULTALKS is back, this time with our very own founder, Rina Einy. Former professional tennis player turned sustainable brand founder, Rina has had several incredibly successful careers throughout her life whilst also currently working towards earning a PhD. With the Tokyo Olympics about to start, however, in today’s segment of CULTALKS we are going to be focussing specifically on Rina’s time spent as a competitor at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
This year’s Tokyo Olympic Games will be different from any other, especially for Team GB. Not only is this down to the lack of spectators, but also due to the fact that for the first time in 125 years more female British athletes than male will be going to the games. As an avid sports fan and huge supporter of women within the sporting industry, we wanted to gain Rina’s perspective on what it was like to be a young female representing the UK on the global stage at the Olympics.
In conversation with Rina Einy
What was the process of being selected for the Olympic Games like?
Selection was made by the LTA around 4 months before the start of the Games on 28th July 1984. It was based on results over the previous year and WTA/ATP world ranking at that time.
What event did you compete in?
Tennis returned to the Summer Olympic Games as a demonstration sport for the second time in 60 years at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. There were two events, women's and men’s singles, held at the UCLA tennis centre in LA. Each event had 32 players, and players under 21 years old nominated by their country were eligible to enter the tournament. There was a minimum world ranking imposed for players to be eligible, and the events were won by Steffi Graf and Stefan Edberg.
Tennis had appeared at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 but was dropped after the Paris 1924 Games. Because of the professional nature of tennis (remember that the modern Olympics was supposed to be strictly amateur, meaning that participants must never have competed for money nor, indeed, ever would). With tennis players already earning large amounts on the pro circuit, the IOC was cautious in reintroducing tennis to the Games.
What was your most memorable moment from being at the 1984 LA Olympics?
Walking into the stadium during the opening ceremony - it was magical! What no one sees though is the absolutely crazy scenes during the day of the opening ceremony. Competitors are bused into an alternate stadium near to the one where the ceremony takes place and the wait there is several hours long. In fact, the moving to and from the ceremony, and the waiting to enter and to leave takes pretty much the whole day. That is why many of the top athletes do not attend the opening ceremony, especially if they have to start competing in the days following it, as it is not only exhausting but also a risk in that the sheer amount of people close together can be a problem for athletes with low body fat ratios and diminished immune systems. What a thrill though for those of us who made it!
Do you have a favourite story from your time in the Olympic village?
Bumping into a very smiley and happy Daley Thompson in the Olympic village in LA after he won his decathlon gold medal.
How does it feel to see so many young women represent Team GB in Tokyo this year?
This is the first time in 125 years that Team GB has more female than male athletes (53.5% and 46.5% respectively). I am a huge supporter of women’s sport and this is an important message to highlight women's sporting achievements after so much push back and discrimination from the authorities over the years.