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Author's profile photo Richard Howells

Is Fourth Place At The Olympics The Loneliest Place In The World?

/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/olympics2_120402.jpgAs a child in the UK, I grew up watching British athletes become the also-rans of Olympic finals. We celebrated “just being there” where “making the podium” was victory and “bronze was the new gold.”  And while there isn’t a fourth place medal at the Olympics, there have been plenty of spectacularly frustrating fourth place finishes over the years, including:

  • Roger Bannister was fourth in the 15,000 meters in the 1952 Helsinki games. He went on to become famous for being the first man to break the four minute mile.
  • Mary Peters finished fourth on the 1964 Rome Olympics. She went on to win gold in the 1972 Summer Olympics.
  • Steve Prefontaine finished fourth in one of the greatest Olympic 5000 meter races of all-time at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. And yes, I know he is not British.
  • David Broome was the World’s top rider at the time but finished fourth place in the individual show jumping (not sure why it is called “individual” as he had a horse with him) event, at 1988 Olympics.
  • Paula Radcliffe the top long distance runner of her generation could only finish fourth in the 10,000 meters in Sydney in 2000. She hopes to fare better in the Marathon in London.

I can imagine nothing worse than to run, swim, ride, shoot, vault or leap your hardest, only to see three of your fiercest competitors on the podium. So from a business perspective, what are some of the lessons learned to be in peak shape for the Olympics? How can we make sure to “medal” and “go for the gold”? How can you avoid being an onlooker when the abundance of gold, silver and bronze is being handed out?

Millions of different factors come into consideration in order to pull off something as spectacular as the Olympics. Here are just a few of the staggering facts (and opportunities) about the “Games of the XXX Olympiad”:

Plenty to feed, clothe and sell memorabilia to, including:

  • 10,500 Olympic athletes and 4000 Para lympic athletes
  • 6,000 coaches and officials
  • 150,00 official workers
  • 70,000 volunteers
  • 20,000 media
  • 10,000,000 spectators

  In total it is estimated that 60,000 meals will be served daily at the Olympic village and 12 million in total (including spectators). 

Sports apparel manufacturers will have a “field day”:

  • 63,400 official uniforms totaling one million items
  • One million pieces of sports equipment will be used

No shortage on building and construction over the past few years: 

  • 32 venues constructed
  • More than 800 pre-training venues
  • 140,000 square meters of temporary facilities
  • 30 new bridges built in Olympic Park
  • 4,000 trees planted
  • 50,000 hotel rooms built
  • 150,000 temporary seats

The motto of the Olympic Games is “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”. This is true for the athletes taking part and for the businesses servicing the games.  The Olympic Games brings with them the opportunity of substantial income and the potential to generate considerable publicity (good and bad) for suppliers of goods and services at all stages in the supply chain. It has been estimated that around £5 billion worth of Olympic Games related contracts have already been won.

Be ready. There is no lonelier place than fourth place in the Olympics. Companies and the athletes need to run like never before.

Follow me on Twitter @howellsrichard


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