Carnival in Rio

Well what an amazing performance by the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the Olympics in Rio.  Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport said “our athletes have prepared and performed quite exceptionally in Rio, to deliver arguably the greatest achievement in British sporting history”.

20 years ago in Atlanta, Great Britain won 15 medals including 1 gold medal.  In 2016 Team GB achieved 27 gold medals, 23 silvers and 17 bronze medals finishing second in the medals’ table behind the USA, ahead of China.  What has changed in 20 short years to spark this spectacular turn around?

The pivotal change happened in 1994 with the creation of the National Lottery and then the decision by John Major’s government after Atlanta to allocate a % of public funding from lottery monies raised to improve our performances in Olympic sports.

UK Sport, the body that allocates the money, decided to fund a range of Olympic sports (but not all) on the following basis.

  • Number of medals won
  • Number of medallists developed
  • Quality of the systems and processes in place (within each sport) to find and support the nation’s most promising future champions

What lesson can be learned that has parallels with business – or management?

Stringent rules were devised and applied to funding.  For example, financial support was refused to sports where British athletes were not performing.  So we assessed and then picked the most-likely winners!  Congratulations to Team GB.

If you would like to discuss the implications of this great success story for your workplace, please contact Clive Watkins at:  [email protected] or call 07760 160996.

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