This article titled “Sir Clive Woodward draws up list of ‘standards’ for GB Olympic athletes” was written by Owen Gibson, for The Guardian on Tuesday 12th July 2011 21.49 UTC
The 550 Team GB athletes who go to the London Olympics will have the weight of the nation on their shoulders. But they will also be expected to keep their hands clean, turn up for meetings on time, tidy their bedrooms and refrain from swearing in public.
A list of 15 “bare minimum standards” have been drawn up by Sir Clive Woodward, the British Olympic Association’s director of sport, as part of an attempt to engender a feeling of team spirit among the athletes.
As the BOA revealed it would cost £13m to send its team of 550 athletes, plus 450 support personnel and 300 volunteers, to London for the Games, Woodward outlined his “One Team GB” ethos.
He said after returning from Beijing, he had noted cycling and other leading sports had higher standards of behaviour than others. “We weren’t one team in the cultures, the standards and how we operated,” said Woodward. “So we have come up with five key words: performance, responsibility, unity, pride and respect.”
He said he had drawn on his thinking as England rugby coach and his experience of successful Olympic sports to construct the framework. Under each heading there are three bullet points reminding athletes of their responsibilities.
Under respect, there are provisions surrounding “responsible” use of social media, refraining from using bad language in public and not making a lot of noise.
“It’s not making noise when you’re coming back in the morning or early in the evening. It’s having your mobile phone switched off so it’s not going off in the middle of the night,” said Woodward.
Under the “pride” section, athletes will be reminded to wear their official kit and under “responsibility” reminded to be on time and urged to keep their Village accommodation clean and tidy.
Under “unity” athletes are encouraged to remain in the Village when their event is over to support their team-mates and under “performance” reminded of the need for good hygiene.
Woodward said Team GB athletes, who will all pass through a pre-Games holding camp at which they will be kitted out and go through a “rites of passage” programme, would all be expected to agree to the rules “on a handshake”.
“These are all the one percenters, the small things that make a difference to a high-performing team,” said Woodward.
Each athlete will also be asked to sign their name on a giant Union flag to show that they sign up to the “One Team GB” ethos. Woodward said he had consulted with all 26 Olympic sports and would engage with athletes to ensure they bought in to the plan.
“This is not us telling people how to operate, it’s engaging with everybody and asking them to let us know if there is anything they would not be able to work under,” said Woodward, who insisted he would “100%” still be at the BOA to fulfil the role of deputy chef de mission next year despite speculation linking him with a return to the Rugby Football Union.
The BOA take over the entire floor of an office block within the new Westfield Stratford City shopping centre during the Games for its Team GB House, partly in order to bring the friends and families of athletes closer to them.
The complex, which overlooks the Olympic Park and is almost 2,000 square feet in size, will also include press conference facilities, a sponsors’ lounge and an area where coaches can analyse their athletes’ performances via video link.
UK Sport performance director Peter Keen said he was “very confident” the team could hit its agreed target of fourth in the medal table. But BOA chief executive Andy Hunt urged caution.
“We have to recognise that maintaining that fourth place is going to be very, very tough,” he said.
“The difference between fourth, fifth and sixth place could be one or two medals, but I really do believe we will deliver more medals from more sports.”
Sir Clive’s list of “minimum standards”
Sir Clive Woodward has drawn up a charter of “minimum standards” that all 550 Team GB athletes will be expected to discuss and sign up to ahead of the 2012 Games to create a “baseline culture”.
They contain 15 “definitions” under five “key word” headings that will “allow One Team to operate much better than it did in Beijing”. He said he wants the athletes to “read these, listen to them and give us their feedback”. Videos are being made to promote each of the five subject areas.
2) 100% me. “The drug side of things, we want clean competition”.
3) Being professional in everything we do. “Performance must come first. The performance of any individual athlete must come before any other individual responsibilities.”
4) Role Model. “That speaks for itself”.
5) Time. “Timekeeping”
6) Accommodation. “Keeping your accommodation clean and tidy.”
7) Team. “That reads, ‘naturally you will support your own sport but how great it would be if after you finish competing then you support all sports and all athletes until the final event is over'”.
8) Ideas. “One of my favourite sayings is that there’s no dumb ideas. If you can see anything that will improve the team or you think is wrong then as a team member you should bring that through to us.”
9) Communication. “Making sure you understand who the team is and how you operate. We have a saying of ‘no new faces’.”
10) Kit. “It drove me nuts in Beijing because there were a couple of people who took great pride in walking around the village with a Nike T-shirt on. This is our sponsor [Adidas] and this is our team kit. All I’ll say is that those athletes were nowhere near the podium and I’m not surprised because they didn’t have the discipline.”
11) Friends and family. “Making your friends and family part of all this so they understand how they need to operate because they can cause issues with social media as well”.
12) Welcoming all other athletes from all other countries. “Taking real leadership in welcoming other athletes to the Games.”
13) Social Media. “In many ways speaks for itself, it’s handling Facebook and Tweeting in a responsible fashion. The definition reads: ‘This will be a Games like no other with respect to social media and all the benefits and inherent risks that go with it. We will use social media responsibly at all times and ensure nobody is embarrassed by any actions taken through the use of social media’.”
14) Language. “Very straightforward. In the confines of this room it might be acceptable to have colourful language but when we’re out in the public domain I don’t expect any time would want to hear any bad language.”
15) Noise. “It’s common sense, it’s noise in the Village. When you come back early in the morning or late in the evening it’s not making noise, respecting not only our team but every other team. It’s having your mobiles switched off so they’re not going off in the middle of the night.”
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