Tag Archives: skills

The IOC is wrestling to drop this Olympic sport

15 Feb

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It’s been six months since the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games but the international sporting event is still generating plenty of coverage this week:

Leading the pack is South African Paralympic gold medallist and double amputee Oscar Pistorius who’s recently denied murder after his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was found dead at his home.

Secondly, ‘poster girl for London 2012’ Jessica Ennis has topped a poll, alongside the Queen, as one of the country’s most inspirational women.

Lastly, the International Olympic Commission (IOC) is facing criticism after it announced it wanted to drop wrestling as an Olympic sport – an event that dates back to the ancient Greek games and has been part of the modern programme since 1896.

There’s still a chance it could stay – if the IOC officially ratifies it at a meeting in September – but at the moment it’s competing against six other sports, such as baseball and squash, for one spot in the 2020 programme.

Of all the recent news the latter bothers me most. Why? Because those that have been with Prime Time from the beginning will remember that when I was a GamesMaker I helped to oversee the wrestling at the ExCeL centre.

The Olympic Games has such a unique history that it’s a privilege for countries to host this amazing centre stage to showcase talented athletes. (You only have to watch a snippet of Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony to see how much effort we put in.) With this in mind, I appreciate that to keep the Olympics current, occasionally it has to redevelop itself. And I’m all eyes and eyes for modernisation, but when elements of the event’s history and heritage are at stake then that’s a different matter.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a closet member of FILA – the wrestling federation. Until last August I’d never even seen a Greco-Roman match, but the fact that the IOC has deemed it a good enough sport, to recognise and reward athletes for demonstrating their skills and strength, for more than a century must worth something.

If it’s about ticket sales, the IOC should be supporting FILA with advice to raise the sport’s profile. After all, more athletes and more fans would benefit both parties. But, instead the committee bull-dozed ahead without talking to anyone. So, not only does the IOC look rash but also now appears defensive by saying:

“We knew even before the decision was taken whatever sport would not be included in the core programme would lead to criticism from the supporters of that sport.”

The backlash against the IOC has spread quickly and I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels surprised. ESPN’s Jim Caple highlights a range of other sports that could’ve been given the chopper which would’ve caused less controversy. (Trampolining anyone?)

Wrestling is an ancient sport. I mean that in the historical sense, not old.
It’ll be interesting to see what the outcome is as the wrestlers, and their fans, fight to feature in Rio and beyond.

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Are you ready at the drop of a hat?

4 Feb

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For a Monday morning, I was more prepared than a boy scout. How? I wore my emergency client dress for a potential awards lunch – Sustainable Restaurant Association Awards at the OXO 2 restaurant.

I thought I was going to be filling in for my most senior client, the managing director, but I should have known she’s made of stronger stuff. However, within your events party, you can always expect up to 10% of guests to drop out. So, when you’re thrown into a situation at the last minute that you’re not prepared for, here’s how to make the most of it and shine:

1. Ice, ice baby
Have an icebreaker under your belt and bring it out to everyone you meet.

As I’d only met my client’s leadership team a handful of times (and they won’t remember me even though I email them good news most days i.e. coverage), I used:

“Looks like my boss has finally let me out of the office!”

Corny I know. But I can laugh about it and so can they. It opens up about what I actually do and puts the attention on me for as long as I want it – until I turn the tables back on them.

2. Be honest
I was fortunate enough to be meeting my CEO at the event. I found her amongst the crowds and asked her to introduce me to some key influencers. I could have saved face and attempted to network on my own, but this method was quicker and she really appreciated my honesty and the challenges I was up against.

If this isn’t convincing enough – she set me up to shake celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s hand. Enough said.

3. Check in
If you’ve been involved in the logistics of the event at any stage, check with your client and the organisers that everything is on track. It’ll show you’re in control and see tasks from beginning to end. It takes just one question and once you’ve been given the green light you can operate for the rest of the day on cruise control.

It goes without saying to make an effort with everyone – especially those on your table. Think of the five golden rules of journalism: who, what, why, when and how? Find out the answers from those closest to you and take the conversation from there.

4. Mission statement
As I was ‘invading’ a sustainability event for food and drink operators, I was understandably the odd one out. If you think your PR aura is sticking out like a sore thumb too, be prepared to summarise what you and your company does in one to two sentences. It succinctly helps the guests understand your role. Who knows – it might lead to a new business opportunity?

5. Find your niche
I was introduced to most people I met as my company’s social media guru. This gave me the flexibility to get my phone out without feeling rude and also handed me a free pass to doodle on my phone when conversations had come to a natural end.

6. Be aware
You can lose all sense of time at events. Don’t be caught out and over do it on the champagne at 11.30am! You do need to have some wits about you in front of your peers and clients.

What are your top tips on surviving
industry events win your clients?

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