Let the Games Begin
Just over a year ago, we were preparing for our annual conference. Most of the organisation was straight forward - venue (The Emirates Stadium in London), catering (always easy & excellent), delegates (willing to attend) and the speakers (a lot of legislation change so the speakers were engaging and very informative). The challenge is always the key note speaker. You need someone who will capture the audiences imagination, inspire them and leave everyone with that "goose bump" feeling.And just by chance, my sister came to our rescue. My niece, her daughter, had broken her arm quite badly and so a neighbour of my sister's thought that meeting an Olympic gold medalist would cheer my niece up. The gold medalist in question was Etienne Stott MBE one of the two canoeists who won gold in 2012. My sister said he was so accommodating and friendly and suggested I go and see him. After a couple of telephone calls, Etienne and I met, we discussed what the scope of his presentation would be pretty much straight away, but he gave away no details.
On the day of the conference every aspect went very smoothly, presentations ranged from the way in which the private rented sector was changing, to navigating the immigration act. At approximate 4pm there was a bit of a buzz in the room. Our Olympian had arrived wearing his GB track suit. Etienne was given an incredibly warm reception as he began his presentation. He talked about how he had started canoeing at the age of 11 and described the dedication, determination required to achieve in sports at such a high level. Interestingly, he also explained how the highs could be matched by the lows - Etienne humbly told us how difficult the sport could sometimes be. He was admitting that it's not all glory and that sometimes he would have to delve deeply into his mind to ensure he stayed positive. This was quite an awe inspiring moment. And then two incredible things happened - Etienne turned to the big screen behind him and showed video footage of he and his partner winning Olympic gold - 1.06 was their time, the rapturous standing ovation he received was as though it were happening all again, and as he listened to the applause in the room, he pulled from his pocket a glistening gold medal.
The reaction was overwhelming and not surprising; canoeing is a little known sport, however, when you are in the vicinity of a gold medalist it is quite an incredible experience.
Once the formalities of the day were over, Etienne spent two and a half hours talking to everyone in the room, taking selfies, signing photos, graciously answering every question asked.
It's not every day you get to know a gold medalist especially one as inspiring and motivating as Etienne Stott.
Let the games begin.
Susie Crolla CEO