Creating a strong team identity and a sense of togetherness is crucial to performance in sport and business alike. For the 23 individual sports and disciplines that will make up Team GB in Rio, a key milestone in achieving this is the day set aside for ‘kitting out’. For Modern Pentathlon, it meant a six-hour process that started with a briefing on the origins of the new Team GB coat of arms and a preview of the stages of the kitting out process named after each of the Team GB values – Performance, Pride, Unity, Respect and Responsibility. These values were developed in the lead up to London 2012 and defined the standards by which all team members operated regardless of their role or sport. They help to bring to life what is expected of a team member and it was noticeable how disciplined we all were in London with no adverse incidents on social media or in the press. For us, it is a moment to recognise that we are part of something that is bigger than just ourselves.
Escorted by our own ‘personal shopper’, armed with an iPad to record our choices, each team member worked their way through the different zones being measured and fitted with opening and closing ceremony uniforms; the formal team suit, Olympic village wear, competition venue kit, shoes, accessories and, for athletes, their individual sport specific technical kit. Designed by Stella McCartney in partnership with adidas the sports kit is all sharply fashionable as well as technically excellent.
The athletes required an extra two hours to be fitted for the five sports of Modern Pentathlon – fencing, riding, run and swim gear in particular, and the whole process culminated with their bags being scanned and packed from a conveyor belt from a supermarket check-out specially installed by Team GB sponsor Aldi. There was also time for a ‘supermarket dash’ to grab as much product as possible while the formal packing took place. The Mahony family will not go short of muesli bars, nuts, raisins and dried fruit for several years to come! Shame there wasn’t a nice bottle of Rosé to snaffle, but I guess even management need to eat like athletes.
It was a long day, but there was not a dull minute. Sponsors activated a whole host of fun events which ranged from selfies on DFS sofas to a lip synching competition with Panasonic, computer rally driving with Nissan and a ‘catch the golden snitch’ type competition in an air tunnel courtesy of Kellogg’s. Top prizes were on offer, along with the opportunity for general mayhem and team bonding and at the end of the process the athletes declared themselves very satisfied – “one of the best days ever” declared first time Olympian Jamie Cooke as he laboured under the weight of almost 100kg of kit.
Now back to the serious job of final preparation at altitude in France; only now, looking a whole lot sharper!