In the six Olympic Games leading up to 1996, Great Britain placed 12th, 13th, 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th in the overall medals table.
In 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia, the team from Great Britain finished 36th.
This made me wonder. How has GB risen from the nadir of 36th, just four Olympic Games ago, to 3rd in 2012?
There’s the home crowd factor, of course. But my understanding is that this can be a curse as well as a blessing, putting another layer of pressure on team members.
There’s been no need to travel, certainly. And it’s not been necessary to adapt to high altitude.
So what’s the success down to?
Well, a certain Sebastian Coe (four Olympic medals winner including 1500 meters golds in 1980 and 1984) has been Chair of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG)—the company responsible for preparing and staging the London 2012 Games.
Part of the success has been down to his leadership, his experience as a participant and to those who had the foresight to appoint him.
The success is also down to individual sports like cycling harnessing the best people, athletes, facilities and scientific knowledge.
But most of all, it seems to me, the GB team’s success is down to money. The British national lottery, founded by Sir John Major’s government in 1994, has pumped a massive £4.4bn into grassroots and elite sport. Without that investment, the level of success currently being enjoyed would not have happened.
The message for leaders in corporate life? If you’re trying to run a business on a shoestring when it comes to people investment, then you may find success elusive—no matter what other hard work and initiatives you bring to bear.
Tags: british national lottery crowd factor elite sport foresight gb team high altitude home crowd individual sports john major london 2012 nadir olympic games olympic medals organizing committee paralympic games place in London scientific knowledge sebastian coe shoestring