Musings from the Golden Oldies Office: September 2016

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxerWe at the humble Golden Oldies Sports Office in Takapuna have plenty to preoccupy our opinion making as we discuss sport here and abroad.

Like many older sports supporters, we believe due to our age and experience, that our opinions are generally right and our advice to players and administrators of a wide range of sports should not only be acknowledged but should be welcomed.

Of particular interest has been the reflections on the performances at the Rio Olympics.

Amidst the frequently expressed longing for another Peter Snell, we have had to admit that there were some remarkable performances from an excellent New Zealand team that set bench marks in their sports that will be hard to match.

Again our rowers and yachties proved they are still deservedly at the top of the world and as always the kayakers, cyclists, equestrian and athletes may not have achieved quite so many medals but certainly performed with distinction and should have made their followers very proud.

Talking of proud, we have recently been in Cardiff for the 21st World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival and for the fortnight of our visit were subjected to the Team GB Olympic phenomenon. Every day on BBC News (our channel of choice and what a great service it provides) featured members of the Great Britain Olympic Team in extended interviews and tributes. The adoration for the competitors-successful and not quite so successful was remarkable and the response of the team members on all occasions was humble and inspiring.

Many interesting facts became apparent-

• the Olympic Games are always their focus and the success or otherwise in tournaments or competition between is welcomed but is not important to their ultimate aim-Olympic success.

• The now familiar 1% objectives-if performance at all levels can be improved regularly by 1% then the returns overall are considerable.

Attributed to Sir David Brailsford, an English Cycling Manager the “Marginal Gain” approach is outlined in an excellent blog by James Clear (well worth a read at “Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.”

He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.” …James Clear.

The 1% can be applied to all aspects of preparation-nutrition, fitness, technique, equipment, mental approach, accommodation, sleep patterns-everything imaginable that can go into improving performance.

Incidentally if you do go to the James Clear Blog there is a great download available that applies the 1% theory to some of lifes annoying problems….well worth a look. And if the performance of Team GB at the Olympics is anything to go by-it works. Not sure if it is true but we had heard the rumour that it is something embraced by All Black Management.

• Government support in resources and funding are instrumental in achieving success. Carefully planned and well administered-expenditure on the Team GB athletes exceeded NZ$500,000,000 from the National Lottery Fund. Over 35% of their team of 366 won a medal.

• Of 31 sports, GB finished on the podium in 19 – a strike rate of just over 61%. That percentage is even better if you remove the six sports – basketball, football, handball, volleyball, water polo and wrestling – Britain were not represented in. Then it jumps to 76%.

• In terms of golds, GB were way ahead of the pack, finishing with at least one in 15 sports, more than any other country, even the United States.

• GB dominated track cycling, winning six of 10 disciplines and collecting 11 medals in total, nine more than the Dutch and Germans in joint second.

• GB also topped the rowing table, with three golds – one more than Germany and New Zealand – and were third in gymnastics, behind the US and Russia.

Info drawn from the BBC Sport News of 21st August. BUT………..and in every good news story there is a but….. How Come They Are Allowed to Conglomerate several countries to form a team-England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

Seems to be a real anomaly when they compete at Commonwealth Games, in Six Nations Rugby and in Football World Cups as individual countries. The West Indies are allowed to combine countries for cricket but not for the Olympic Games-Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Bahamas, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda are just some of the nations that could be part of a wider West Indies team.

Athletes from the British West Indies Federation competed as Antilles at the Rome Olympics in 1960 where 13 athletes managed 2 Bronze-including the third place in the 800 metres achieved by George Kerr of Jamaica (behind one of the greatest of all Olympians, Peter Snell) but that team was disbanded straight after 1960.

Interestingly the medal count if Team GB was truly split into its composite country would have been:
England 103
Scotland 16
Wales 9
Channel Islands 1
Isle of Man 1
N. Ireland 0

Makes the New Zealand performance of 18 medals look pretty good in comparison to the deservedly much praised Team GB component countries. Team GB were recognised as one of the outstanding teams at Rio and their support at home was admirable and enjoyable…….but there is always the question-why not individual countries?

Roll on Tokyo 2020 and let’s look forward to a New Zealand team once again performing at top level against all teams-no matter what their make up.

Let’s just hope that they don’t have to face a Team EU alongside a Team GB.
Peter writes for GrownUps, courtesy of Golden Oldies & Vintage Sports Tours.

Read more from and about Peter here.