Reflections on one amazing summer

Just wanted to share a few thoughts on the summer of sport and culture courtesy of the Olympics. First up are some photos of cultural things from this summer, followed by thoughts on what we can learn from sporting achievements this summer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Paralympic Flame celebrations in Needham Market in late August. In particular I was thrilled to see the themed benches from local artist Amy Louise Nettleton of My Red Studio. I particularly liked the swimmer’s bench and enjoyed watching a couple of people try on the hat and goggles to be photographed doing a ‘Mobot’ gesture.

Swimmers bench by artist at Needham LakeWheelchair tennis artists bench

The wheelchair tennis bench was a really popular item, and it must have taken ages to stick all the tennis balls on to the bench. The effect was wonderful and much appreciated.

And closer to home in London there were a number of art related events at the Royal Festival Hall which I attended in early August. The first was the map of the world built in Lego, complete with mountain ranges! It was an interactive project and you could help to create it yourself, but by the time I got there it was the last day and all that was left to do was blue squares for the ocean.

Lego map of the world

Inside the Royal Festival Hall was a librarian’s nightmare of an art installation: a book maze. It was made of 250,000 books of which 150,000 were donated by Oxfam, the rest came from UK publishers. There was no rhyme or reason for how the books were organised (so no classification, which is why I call it a librarian’s nightmare), but the effect was very dramatic. It was great to see and hear so many children rushing around the maze, and to find one little girl curled up in the middle reading a book. And perhaps best of all braille books were included in the collection – very inclusive.

Those of us working in London had dreaded the commute during the Olympics and Paralympics, but our worst fears never materialised. Quite the reverse actually, as London became a really friendly, happy place. Things I’ll miss most from that time are the sound of children’s laughter on early morning packed commuter trains, the volunteers giving you directions at Waterloo station and the tweets from SW Trains about medal winners mixed in with updates on my local train services.

Finally, having watched and heard about the successes of all the Olympians and Paralympians I think there are some key lessons we can take from their achievements that can easily be applied to our lives.

  • Vision – be clear about what you want to achieve and by when. Many of the athletes taking part had clearly set their vision on attending London 2012, years before the event and been clear on what they had to do to achieve that vision.
  • Teamwork – visions can’t be achieved without the right support and structure – Team GB Paralympians and Olympians shared the same support teams and noted how important they were to achieving their vision, eg the cycling team.
  • Leadership – is required at all levels in order to make a vision reality – this was clearly in evidence at London 2012 from LOCOG leaders (Seb Coe et al) to athletes to the volunteers.