Keeping the Games feelgood factor alive…

September 24, 2019

I remember reading about Sydney’s Olympic Games volunteers and how some struggled to return to normal life once their work was done. Having watched London’s Games Makers in action for most of the Olympic fortnight, I can understand why it’s so hard to hang up the purple outfit for the last time. These guys made the world feel more than welcome and I’ve never been prouder to be a Brit.

The sport wasn’t bad either. As a British Olympic Association Ambassador, I was privileged to witness some life-defining performances at the Velodrome, Aquatics Centre and of course the Olympic Stadium. The memory of Jess Ennis crossing the finish line in the 800m, arms spread wide, will be with me for the rest of my days. Mo Farah’s mask of pain as he pushed himself beyond physical endurance in the 5,000m; a demonstration of the purest determination that led to the greatest crowd roar I’ll ever hear. Chris Hoy’s stubborn refusal to be beaten, his burning desire to succeed, his tears of joy and relief as the crowd went in to ecstasy…all of this is the stuff of dreams.

But it’s over. The lawn needs cutting. The washing basket is full because the machine has broken down. The bills keep rolling in. Life goes on…

Sure, but rather than succumb to the Sydneysiders’ post-Games syndrome, I’m taking bucket loads of Factor 2012 and splashing it all over my life. The kids have started their pre-season football training with an intensity I haven’t seen before. One of my boys has even re-ignited his interest in athletics by competing in a couple of 100m sprint races. My own fitness regime has been boosted by what I witnessed and I’ve noticed a spring in my step as I pop out for a training jog.

But how will it all be in a year’s time? By then, the afterglow of the Games will have faded. Well, yes; if I don’t do anything about it. But that’s not my style; I will certainly do something about it. I’m going to keep the kids’ interest up by taking them to see more live sport over the coming months. Athletics, football, cycling…they’re keen to try some sports out, too, so I’m going to take them to some of the many taster sessions that seem to be springing up all over the place. I’ve always said that it’s vital to build good habits in kids when they’re of primary school age. Make sport fun, make it second nature to be active; I can’t think of many parent priorities that should be higher than this. Why would a parent not want to give their kids the best chance of a long, healthy life?

I’m following some of the Olympic competitors on Twitter; I find their tweets are a reminder of what they’ve achieved, but also an illustration of how quickly they move on to the next goal. My own goal list is being re-vamped; I’m pretty structured anyway, but I want to push things forward. If I’m going to be as fit and healthy as I can, I need to plan in some challenge events to keep me motivated. One activity I already have in the diary is a weekly bike ride with my kids. We’ve done this for a long time, but it’s fair to say that the Olympics have re-ignited their interest. Family time and exercise all in one. Good news.

I’ve loved working with businesses on health and well being over the last few years. I genuinely believe we’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring health, happiness and energy to more people than ever before. The Olympic flame scorched the hearts of even the least sports-focused people. And I reckon they’re ready and waiting to be guided on their own journey of inspiration and achievement. Sounds pretty grand, but I’ve no doubt it’s true. People want their own “Mo Moment” – that sense of pushing through to get a result. Workplace wellbeing initiatives such as my own Healthy Living programme can play a huge part of making it happen.

We’re 12 years on from Sydney. In 2024, when we look back at London, I want us to be saying “That was when the tide turned and things changed.” Healthier living isn’t an impossible dream, it’s a possible reality and I’m working towards it every day.

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