While all the usual clichés and stereotypes abound during the Olympics, it’s hard not to be moved by the team GB men’s gymnastics scooping a bronze medal. This is the first win for a century when rope climbing was part of the 1912 event. Despite the contested adjustment from silver to bronze, in the words of the team captain Louis Smith “After 100 years, silver, bronze – it doesn’t matter. This is a dream come true”.
Many themes emerge from this win though my overriding ‘take’ is the link to developing talent and its impact on reward. While China currently tops the lead on gold medals (nine at time of writing ahead of USA at five) team GB’s bronze achievement cannot be underestimated. It belies the growth of developing talent over the past decade (and more) to progress Britain from 23rd in the world to an Olympic bronze in the space of just nine years.
While success in sports such as rowing has been traditionally associated with privilege, fast bucks or silver spoons are less plentiful in gymnastics. Team GB’s success demonstrates the power that can be harnessed from growing ‘engine room’ talent rather than parachuting it in. Of course success has been facilitated by funding (generated from the promise of individual gymnastic successes) together with the hard work and commitment of coaches and gymnasts all playing an important role over recent decades.
However team GB’s gymnastic award demonstrates that creating the right mix can deliver sustainable results capable of competing directly with China’s established formula. When the Olympic dust has settled, surely the funding that this bronze generates will help develop the future generation of gymnasts who, like the GB team, can play a role in ensuring a sustainable legacy to be proud of. Perhaps our banking sector can learn something from this approach?