13 June 2012, 6.30pm
By Trista Smith
“Seizing Success” is just the way to introduce this session – so began Tony MacKay at the start of this funny, moving presentation from two luminaries of British sport.
Sue has been an elite athlete, teacher, coach, mentor, political advisor, and member of the House of Lords – an inspiring career.
Jason – this nation’s and therefore one of the world’s great sprinters, has gone on to performance coaching, making a contribution to national sports campaigns.
Sue took the mic first, to talk about how the team she leads at UK Sport went from good to great.
From a less than inspiring performance at the 1996 Olympics in Athens, Great Britain now holds the highest number of medals of any nation in the world in relation to population size. How did they do it?
The first job on the way to achieving this was finding out what world class looks like. Inspired by a visit to Silverstone to watch Michael Schumacher race, Sue learned that
The system cannot be based on talented individuals – it has to be more than that.
Unlocking the potential of your staff
To set about going from good to great, she asked everyone on her team:
Sue also needed someone who had the vision to achieve her dream for UK Sport. Peter Keen – she called him a genius, a dream, the man with the vision. Every team needs someone who doesn’t see the boundaries – without him, her team wouldn’t be where they are today.
Changing the culture
We needed to set aspirational levels beyond where people thought they could go – the same applies for students, teachers, staff, heads – there has to be belief in the system that we can be the best.
Physical education is not about talent – it’s laying foundations for life, inspiring kids to reach further than they think they can, just as we do with British athletes.
Sue closed on a confident note that we’ll get more medals in London than we did in Beijing – that’s a sign of a good system.
Her dream is to create a system for British sport, not a group of individuals. Every child who has desire to be the best can do it.
School leaders – you create tomorrow’s world. Nothing is more important. Only if you are the best that you can be can your students do the same.
Sue then handed over to Jason, who told the funny, inspiring story of his journey to Olympic gold, from his earliest school sports days to how he and his relay team made it through injury, scandal, wins and losses, screaming crowds and false starts to Olympic glory in Athens.
No one expected us to deliver anything, he said – except for the four of us. But he had no idea how treacherous the journey would be.
After Jason played the video of his amazing victory to raucous applause (“I still enjoy watching that!”) and flashed us a glimpse of his gold medal, Olympic fever took hold in the auditorium – what a great way to end day one and send people off to the opening night reception.