After three days of practical workshops, inspirational speakers and cross-sport networking, the 2011 World Class Performance Conference was aptly brought to a close with a rousing speech from Lord Sebastian Coe.
Getting the final day underway in style, world renowned music conductor Charles Hazlewood had the entire Conference on their feet, singing in unison the lyrics: “Passion, ambition, integrity and mastery. If we sing as one voice, we build a better legacy.” Hazlewood also screened a video titled ‘Orchestra of the Impossible Genius’, featuring the coming together of a group of disabled musicians, before laying out his ambition to take his ‘para-orchestra’ to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games next summer.
The final day’s workshop sessions included one from a true master of the coaching profession, Malcolm Arnold, who attracted a large audience to his session, outlining his illustrious career from Loughborough, to Uganda, where he trained his first Olympic gold medallist, John Akii-Bua. From there he spoke of his time in Wales and years of coaching Colin Jackson and Nigel Walker, and finally to the present day in Bath, where World and European champion Dai Greene is among his protégées. Arnold had some words of wisdom for the coaches in attendance, who he reminded to “never be too proud to learn from your athletes.”
Second keynote of the day, Wendy Pattenden, one of the architects of Canada’s ‘Own the Podium’ strategy ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, had plenty of practical advice for delegates and reassured them: “From being here over the last couple of days, it is clear you are on track, ready for the big day and doing the right things with nine months to go.” Pattenden underlined the importance of winning medals at your home Games, which she said has a positive knock-on effect, “sending a shine and glow through communities.”
Chris Grant, leadership, facilitation and organisational change consultant, led the workshop ‘The Future of World Class Performance’. Grant highlighted to delegates the importance of remembering why they came into a career in sport by asking them ‘when did you fall in love with sport and why?’ He then asked delegates to capture their key insights from this year’s Conference on a postcard which will be posted back to them as a reminder of their thoughts at a pertinent moment, either in two weeks time, or immediately pre or post the Games in 2012.
Providing an uplifting close to the 2011 World Class Performance Conference, and personally addressing the entire Olympic and Paralympic high performance community for what is likely to be the final time before the Games, London 2012 Chairman Lord Coe said: “I went to Singapore to prosper and advantage British sport; to create a well stocked shop window as a driver of participation. The athletes that you produce are crucial to this, so we at Locog have put them at the very centre of this project. We are doing everything we can to provide you and your athletes with every chance to succeed.
“Beijing was not a happy accident, it was a product of great national governing bodies, highly competitive and motivated athletes, backed by fantastic resources and world class coaching and I have little doubt that we will see even better in London; it’s all about those great big British moments.
“On behalf of the whole team at Locog, thank you very much, we could not be more focused on supporting you in the coming year.”
Over 300 delegates, including coaches, performance directors and other members of world class support teams from summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic sports, were in attendance for the UK Sport convened Conference. The aim of the event was to reflect on and learn from collective experiences of the sporting year across different sports and environments, in order to prepare for the challenges ahead, particularly in 2012.