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An Olympian Event

In the events industry we all know that guests have to be immersed in experiences. We also know – from listening to discussions at the latest ISES UK meeting, that Sports themed events are the way forward. So what better than to combine the two!

Yesterday, my son and I were lucky enough to experience an event that combined Olympians, participation, a handful of Olympic medals, sunny weather and the breathtaking venue of the Thames at Henley. We had bought the experience to support the Muscle Dreams charity.

We arrived at Henley Rowing Club and were introduced to our rowing Olympians for the day: Tom and Steve. They had both competed in the Olympics and shared their rowing careers with us, before teaching us some basic rowing skills on the Ergo rowing machine. Of course technique is everything and there was no way we were going to become an elite rower after 5 minutes on the Ergo machine, BUT it meant we were less likely to fall in the Thames later on!

We were then put into crews: the Olympian was at bow (where he could see us and steer the boat!) Apparently the stroke (at the front of the crew) is intelligent; the three seat all technique; two (in front of the bow) the ‘donkey’ (or very strong)! I am sure these are jokes passed down the generations of rowers rather like viola jokes are shared in orchestras!

Since we were rowing in a quad skull, we were given various rules – well one – don’t let go of either blade! No one wanted to capsize and this was a good enough tip for me!

My crew was with my son and Jeremy: a superstar marketeer.

Sorting out our blades.

After having moved our blades out of the boathouse and put them into the gates of the boat, we got in. Eventually we were ready to take our first stroke. It made a real difference having Steve in bow, shouting commands and reassuring us that we wouldn’t capsize – believe me – that was my real worry.

Even in a short period of time, we learnt to watch and follow the stroke; co-ordination and starting to work as a team. Although we were only on the river for a maximum of 30 minutes, there was a huge amount we were able to take from the experience.

Rowing is the ultimate team sport. There is no one ‘star’ in a crew because it isn’t the most efficient way to row. Of course there are always strong people in the crew but unless everyone is co-ordinated and working together, the boat won’t move as quickly! Oh for some company teams to have that mind set!

We then retired to a local pub to have a much needed lunch, where we met ANOTHER Olympian, complete with his medals. We had a Q and A session which was brilliant. These guys give up so much to reach an elite level and to understand how they worked was inspirational.

From my point of view, it was a great event. At no time did I feel a failure (from a sports team building perspective there are events that do make you feel an idiot). The event was very inclusive; although we were working with elite athletes, the focus was on ‘having a go’ and ‘having fun’ as well as sharing a great sport with Olympians. Party For the Podium delivered the event and they have a variety of sports they offer to businesses and charities as well as sporting events in Bristol and London.


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