Wow what a couple of weeks it has been. As I look back and reflect there were so many proud to be a NZer moments for me, running with the torch, meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, rubbing shoulders with Katherine Middleton, Steve Redgrave and David Beckham, attending the Governor Generals dinner, seeing Neil Finn sing, witnessing Nick Willis become New Zealand’s flag bearer, presenting NZ’s 100th medal to my mates and watching Sarah Walker win silver live and finally being close to all the NZ medalists who achieved their dream they have worked towards for the last 12 to 8 years.
Being at the games with several different roles gave me a great perspective from different angles. As a coach it was hands on being in the thick of it with village life and close contact with athletes. I was also there as an IOC official being able to observe the competition, venues and ceremonies from a VIP and spectator view.
London did an amazing job of this games, I feel one of the best. I have never met so many genuinely friendly and helpful, English volunteers, the public transport systems were amazing Olympic Park was fantastic and every event ran so smoothly with very little controversy.
I spent most my time at the sailing in Weymouth as a coach it was the best venue I have experienced for sailing since I began my Olympic journey in 1992. Great winds, facilities and organization. The conditions were so well suited to our kiwi sailors they were similar to breezes at home. To see first hand the 49er boys Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sail consistently to take home the silver, their training partners, the Aussie took the gold – success tip 101 – train with the best and you become the best!! To top off this awesome performance they won New Zealand’s 100th medal and by chance I got to hang that medal around their necks, excitement got the better of me and a little jig escaped my legs as I walked up! A few days later the 470 girls “team Jolly” won gold!! This was the first Olympics I remember when sailing’s TV footage has been so engaging and exciting. Long may this continue.
My other highlight during the sailing was to present the medals to the RSX windsurfing men. It was sad not to have Jon Paul Tobin up there but presenting the medals to “my tribe”. What people may not know is that Aaron McIntosh from New Zealand was the coach of the Dorian Rijesselberghe who totally dominated the racing, he didn’t need to sail the last fleet race and only needed to start the medal race. Good job Aaron!
The last few days of the games I got to watch Sarah Walker win silver at the BMX – wow those girls have balls, it is hard to appreciate how high that ramp is and how high they jump until you see it live.
I was so proud to be a kiwi yelling and screaming and flapping the New Zealand flag like a maniac in the stands!!
Finally my last moment was being at the final event of the athletics watching the men’s 4 by 100 relay with Usain Bolt and team break the world record. The roar in the stadium was deafening, engulfing, addictive and infectious.
It is sad to think the diverse and spectacular cocktail of some of the most exciting sport is over for another four years but the memories of those moments will stay in my psyche and for those that didn’t quite reach their dream, don’t give up persistence pays off and the quicker you can come back fighting harder, faster and with more passion will breed enduring success.
Kendall's have competed in 7 Olympics!
Tonight I head back to London for the final countdown to the games. I am going to be based in Weymouth as I am coaching in the woman’s RSX fleet during the games. It is going to be strange feeling because this will be the first time in 7 Olympics that a Kendall wont be competing in windsurfing. It is an end of an era. Despite that I am so happy to be involved as a coach as it really is the next best job if you can’t be an athlete. It is such a privilege to work with a high performance athlete to be a part of their journey and assist them to reach their potential. It has been an interesting journey over the last year as I have been assisting this athlete, she has a potential to medal if all the stars align and as we head into the last month of training all the boxes are finally being ticked off and I can see her really starting to gain that intuitive belief that is required to perform – it is so exciting!!
I will also attend the games in another roll as an IOC member. I spend about 70 days a year serving the Olympic movement in an honorary role. I am the athletes voice on many commissions and boards including the following: IOC athletes commission, IOC woman and sport commission, IOC sport and environment commission, WADA athletes commission, IOC 2020 working group. Oceania executive board, NZOC executive board and chair the Oceania athletes commission. One of the perks of working for free for the movement I get to take my family to the games and we all get the magic infinity pass that allows us all to go to all the events and the opening and closing ceremony. If I am lucky I will get to present medals to athletes as well.
Just before the games we have our IOC athletes commission meeting, we also meet with the IOC executive board, participate in the IOC session that finishes just before the opening ceremony. I will then head straight back down to Weymouth as the sailing begins on the 31st.
It is all go, Olympic fever is here and I know the silver fern with be shining brightly for the next 6 weeks.
It has been a really interesting month for me. On May the 5th ISAF (International Sailing Federation) announced that wind surfing in 2016 Olympics would be replace by kite surfing.
A shockwave went around the world as the windsurfing community was all told in March at the world championships by the ISAF events committee that windsurfing was safe and the events committee had voted in favor of windsurfing 14 to 2. The ISAF events committee is a specialist group in charge of analyzing classes for 2016 and for the future plan of sailing that had been developed. In light of the IOC recommendations that sailing needs to be more visual for television, more portable, good universality, gender equality, cheaper with infrastructure, minimize risk and other relevant topics for sport in this modern world.
Just hours after the announcement the reality of that decision spread throughout the sailing world and the social media platforms were alive and well as people got to express their opinions on the situation.
As the weeks unfolded one of the council members has apologized for voting the wrong way and many national federations have now publically announced their objection to the way their member voted.
What is highlighted is that ISAF had not done due diligence in presenting the findings to the members, facts were not presented clearly, passion and emotion charged the room and the vote was made. The kiting community at first was in shock by this early decision and now the sailing world is scrambling to understand how to make this new sport of kite racing Olympic. Whilst the windsurfing community are now scrambling to try and save what on paper looks like one of sailings leading classes in all of IOC recommendations.
During this meeting 4 out of the 10 Sailing classes that were new were voted into Olympic program. I don’t know many businesses that would in 24 hours change their business by 40% and make 1000’s of it’s stakeholders unemployed and cost them millions of dollars!! It is really quite astounding especially when two of these replacements were leading the charge in IOC recommendations. This is where sport is so different to business.
In November the council will meet again and a submission will be presented that windsurfing should be back in then a vote will occur and if there is 75% majority in agreement there is a slim chance that my sport will back in the games.
I have many opinions on this matter but have to be very careful in the world of blogging and social media as things get taken out of context. All I know if ISAF doesn’t review their processes of governance they may find themselves in a compromising position come reevaluation of the Olympic program.
RSX world Champs in Cadiz Spain.
One of my proudest moments this year so far is watching Jon Paul Tobin sail to a bronze at the RSX World Championships in Cadiz, Spain last month. He epitomises the saying “perseverance pays off”. Life is also all about timing and when it is your time it’s your time. Most would have thrown the towel in after the first couple of disappointments but he came back fighting every year. It took him 3 Olympic cycles to win the Olympic spot for NZ (as we can only send one) from a highly competitive field of male windsurfers in New Zealand and this year was his first podium finish at a world champs since he made his debut at his first Olympic Class World champs in 1997 where he placed 5th.
He has always been sniffing around in the top 10 but hadn’t cracked the big one until now.
I have known JP since he was about 13 years old when he came to his first windsurfing competition way back in early 90’s He was a pretty focused, determined kid that had a fiery mouth on him.
Jp’s story was like watching a remake of David and Goliath and finally after 12 years David beats Goliath and for JP, Goliath takes on many forms not just on the water but in his life also.
Over the last few years JP found his tribe, owns his high performance program and put everything in place that gets him into his zone and is maximising his journey in life. It’s not about who you were it is who you can become and sport is the best vehicle for life learning’s –no matter where you place in London JP you have already got the win, I am so proud to be one be one of your friends – but a medal would be FRIGGING AWESOME to top it off!
I have just returned from the 5th IOC woman in sport forum that was hosted by the USOC in Los Angeles. There were over 800 participants from 140 countries gathered to meet in the city that hosted the Olympic games in 1984.
“Together, stronger” was the theme. The speakers topics were diverse ranging from HRH of Jordon and how they have formed peace for sport organisations in the middle east to the CEO of P&G and how they are using their products in thanking the mothers who support sport and therefore encouraging those mothers to get their daughters into sport. I spoke about using athletes commissions as a vehicle to bring woman through to leadership in sport organisations and the IOC’s Athletes Career program where we are building the “complete athlete”.
On the field of play woman represent up to 48% of competitors with London being the first games where woman can compete in every discipline. Although it is to be noted that men don’t compete in synchronised swimming. And to date there are only 3 National Olympic Committees that have never had female representation at a games (all middle east countries).
My highlight was Geena Davis (actress and former athlete – archery) spoke about the media and how they play a huge role in forming perceptions and behaviours from the lack of female cartoon hero’s to the lack of air time in the US for woman’s sport which has fallen from 4% to 1% in the last few years!!! There is much work to be done here in all countries. Especially as one of the fastest growing markets out there is woman in sport and woman are the biggest consumers. Geena was highly entertaining and had fantastic research and solutions to share.
I couldn’t help feel proud and lucky as here in NZ I have grown up with the perception girls can do anything and competed in a sport where girls and boys could compete on an even playing field so I never really met the prejudice that some woman face in trying to become a top sports person. I also grew up with woman as our leaders from the queen to the governor general, prime minister and our CEO of yachting back when I started competing was female. So I always felt there were no obstacles to what I wanted to achieve.
Today in New Zealand we are still short of female representation on boards and leadership in the corporate and sporting worlds. Change does take time but there is enough research out there now to prove that balance and diversity on boards is beneficial for the performance of the organisation, so it is just a matter of time before more woman have the willingness and confidence to put their hands up and stand up!
I have never been so proud to be a NZer as I have over this last month.
I have to admit that in the past I have not been a big rugby fan. It wasn’t a sport I knew much about and I couldn’t understand what was so great about watching a bunch of testosterone fuelled men beat each other up in a paddock.
I also have to sheepishly admit that I was jealous of the Allblacks! Here I was an individual athlete in a minority sport struggling to make ends meet and to see the Allblacks fully pimped made me see red. Even more so when I was getting World Class results and the media weren’t that interested - especially if the Allblacks captain sprained his big toe. Jealousy can really distort reality.
The Rugby World Cup has so changed my perceptions over the last 6 weeks as the competition unfolded. I felt so proud to be a kiwi and am now one of the Allblacks biggest fans! Over the cup I gained an understanding of this very technical game. I found myself caught up in the rugby fever and excitement and was yelling and screaming like a maniac. I became a Rugby expert in those final two weeks and was yelling instructions to the team “ hold onto the ball, don’t kick it” and some expletives to go with it all. Now I fully appreciate the talent, athleticism and professionalism of this team they handled the biggest pressure – the whole nations wellbeing on their shoulders, they rose above it and took that win it was AWESOME. Big ups to the team and all the support crew behind them it truly was a great win.
Over the last couple of months I have been working with the elite athletes from Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa and Vanuatu. This initiative is part of Oceania’s Voices of the Athletes Program. Our team goes into the islands and we conduct interactive workshops for the athlete and their entourage on Peak performance, Anti Doping, Stop HIV, Go Green and the athletes Career Program.
This was all in preparation for the Pacific Games. The Pacific Games is like the Olympic Games for the Pacific Island nations and was developed after world war two to bring all the 29 small islands together in the region for sport after it had been so divided during the war. Australia and New Zealand weren’t included as they would have dominated the games, this would have defeated the idea of a “friendly” games. The games are staged every 4 years with over 3500 athletes competing in 29 different sports over 2 weeks. This year the games were in New Caledonia
It has been so rewarding working with the island athlete they are so grateful for any assistance and knowledge you can share with them. It also makes me realise how lucky NZ athletes are and the facilities we have. In Tonga the weight lifting team train in a make shift weight room, that is a carport. It has the minimum weights, bars and benches but the passion that these athletes were training with surely made up for the lack of facilities.
I’ve recently been elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee which is an amazing opportunity for me to be involved in Olympic sports at the highest level. As there are only fifteen athletes out of 115 members I feel privileged as now I have the chance to meet face to face with world sporting leaders and are able to influence some of the big Olympic issues!There are a few things in particular that I’d like to work on whilst I’m in this position. My passion is with the athletes Career Program which is all about empowering athletes for their future. To make them aware that sport is an amazing vehicle for life opportunities that can help them in their future career paths.I also feel as though communication between administrators and sports people is often poor - this needs to be improved through the awareness of athlete’s commissions.Finally, I’d like to draw attention to our Oceania Island Athletes because it would be fantastic to get their athletes to Olympic qualifying standards.Of course there’s a lot of work to be done here and it all starts with competent administrators and coaches. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to my new role!
Earlier this month I was in Doha, Qatar for the 9th World Conference on Sport and Environment. I was there representing Oceania in my role as an International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission member! The theme - “Playing for a Greener Future”.
The IOC has a relationship with the United Nations and have an opportunity for the Olympic Movement to showcase the contribution of the sports movement to the sustainable development. This will happen at the United Nations Conference on the environment and development in 2012 (Rio plus 20) Earth Summit The IOC will be presenting on what sport it doing for the future. This will be based on the amazing job London 2012 games is doing and what Vancouver 2010 games had lead the way doing as far as Mega sporting events and the sustainability of the environment.
There is a huge amount of resource out here now for sports events to follow guidelines and measurement tools on sustainability within their event that can save money and the environment.
Throughout the conference presentations there were many references to the role of using athletes as ambassadors for the messaging and the importance of education for young people about the environment.
I was proud to present to the 400 delegates on “project Litefoot” a Kiwi charitable trust that is using a few of our top athletes as role models to set an example of what you can do.
Michael Campbell, Conrad Smith, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Kereopa, The Evers Swindell Twins and myself.
We have all undertaken to reduce our footprint and the cool thing is that the steps we took saved us money and the environment.
Check out this website and see what you can do to make a difference.
The IOC concluded that young people play an important role in society and in promoting sustainable development. To inspire young people around the world to participate in sport and adopt and live be the Olympic ideals.
I feel it is every generation that is important - We all should be r
The presentations that really resonated with me during the conference were the many environmental disasters caused by man that are happening around the world. We take our beautiful country for granted – and if we don’t keep protecting it, our kids will not be able to enjoy what we have taken for granted.
What are you doing to make a difference?