9 Aug 2012

Technology, Teamwork, Tenacity - 3 Lessons from the Velodrome

Team GB have had their best Olympics in the modern era placing them third in the medals table with 4 days still to go. Perhaps most impressive of all has been their dominance in the Velodrome with a clutch of both team and individual performances that have brushed aside all competition.  You had to feel sorry for Vicky Pendleton not finishing on the highest point of her career but Sir Chris Hoy’s reaction on the podium would’ve brought a tear to a glass eye.

Even before the Olympics started, Team Sky, and Bradley Wiggins in particular, performance in the Tour de France (arguably the most gruelling sporting competition on the planet) was showing how sustained investment in the sport was paying dividends.  But what, if anything, can we learn from their dominant performance over the last few weeks?


Don’t let your tech let you down. Work closely with your tech vendors to make sure you have the perfect fit - in Team GB’s case this means made-to-measure carbon fibre frames and wheels which are exactly, not nearly, round. Don’t settle for second best, but don’t think that tech will do any more than get you to the start line.


Far more impressive than any of the envy-inducing bike porn on display has been the sense that everybody in the team was working for everyone else. Sir Chris Hoy And Vicky Pendleton inspiring Laura Trott to double Gold at the same time as they were feeding of the enthusiasm and support of their younger admirers. This was true in the Tour as well – probably my favourite sporting moment (outside the Olympics) this year was Bradley Wiggins leading out Mark Cavendish on the sprints. This camaraderie has been evident elsewhere in TeamGB. The Brownlee brothers triumph in the Triathlon was made possible by the selfless support of domestique Stuart Hayes.


Two contrasting episodes made this point clearly for me. First, it seemed as if all the fight went out of Vicky Pendleton as she was relegated after the first race of her final Olympic event. After that, Australian victory seemed all but guaranteed (and, boy did they need the medal). But, to finish on a more positive note, Sir Chris Hoy holding off the last banked turn against a strong German challenge to scrape over the line just ahead enough to become the greatest British Olympian of all time.