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Rule Britannia!

Aug 12, 2012 Comments Off on Rule Britannia!

Sorry, this might be badly typed (badlee tiped?), because it is hard to see the keyboard with so much Olympic GOLD reflecting in my eyes! I am not sure whether we put something in every other country’s tea or what, but to give Great Britain’s medal haul some context: we got one gold in Atlanta in ’96 and when I was younger I recall 5 or 6 gold was the norm. This time with home field we have more gold than Russia and total medals way above all but China, US and Russia – a fact which is pretty hard to believe. It just goes to show what can be done with a bit of leadership and focused vision.

Sitting Down Sports

After Atlanta in 1996 I suspect that someone important in government (Tony Blair was elected in 1997) called a crisis meeting and rallied for serious public/private sector investment in sport (knowing they was going to bid for the 2012 games I suspect even then). Knowing what they could NOT dominate (e.g., track & field) they looked at sports that went with the weather, were already done in Britain (if badly), and would generate private business opportunity too.

So GB at the moment seems to own cycling (the Brits who starred in the Tour de France, Wiggins and Cavendish started on the sprint programs) and are pretty good in rowing, equestrian and sailing. As I heard it described on the BBC the other day, GB excels at the “sitting down sports!”

What I found interesting is that on the back of their best-ever performance in Beijing, they are now winning medals in things they would never have thought possible: diving, gymnastics and even the long jump (first win since the 60’s I think). So, they are now much stronger in the core activities having built athlete and public confidence on the opportunistic events first.

The  Garden Center Lesson

Yes, it’s my blog so I can go on a bit with country pride – but there is a story here for GCs:  In the same time-frame (since 1996), many owners in the garden center retail business in North America left their core activities to the box stores and hardware stores, developing strong offers in other opportunistic products (personal items, home décor)  attracting a wide range of consumers and markets. Perhaps it is time to use that image and customer confidence to strengthen the offer in core products and return to garden success again…? (Okay, I know it’s a stretch for an Olympic tie in!)

I will watch the closing ceremonies with pride for both my homeland and my adopted USA – both have had a spectacular and inspiring showing in the Games this summer.

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