How investment helped Great Britain secure Olympic glory
INSPIRATION was in full flow throughout Business Week 2012.
But at the Yorkshire International Business Convention, the tap of inspiration was turned up from full flow to flood.
Even non-sporting fans could not fail to be impressed with middle distance athletics hero Steve Cram, whose journey to stardom highlighted the importance of never giving up.
This ethos was as important to his own career as to the London Olympics 2012.
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Many scoffed at the UK's ability to host such an event, not least the Brits, who Steve pointed out "claimed it would never be done on time or to budget".
Now the Olympic countdown is well under way, and the Olympic torch has travelled through the streets of East Yorkshire, many are quick to forget the level of criticism aimed at the organising committee.
However, as Steve made clear, criticism is sometimes not only deserved but also the start of making things better.
Speaking about Britain's poor performance during the 1990s, he said: "In 1996 we were 36th in the medal table, even Mozambique was ahead of us.
"We thought we were a proud Olympic nation yet here we were losing against tiny countries.
"We got just one gold in rowing – and that was from Steve Cram, who had won a medal for the past 40 years.
"Something had to change."
Admitting the country was "in a pretty bad place" with only two 50m swimming pools and a severe shortage of running tracks, he said: "We needed capital investment – if you want to create great performers you have to create the things around them to help them achieve success.
"If you want to be successful, at some point you have to invest, either in infrastructure or people."
According to Steve, the change the UK had been looking for came in the form of Lottery funding, which helped provide the right infrastructure, coaching, facilities and everything else that meant the difference between success and failure.
And, in 2004, this investment appeared to be paying off, as Great Britain enjoyed its most successful games since World War Two.