Not only is Weymouth and Portland part of Britain's World Heritage Coast, it provides some of the best natural sailing waters in the UK. The site has already hosted numerous international sailing events so it's no surprise then that the harbour will be the venue for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing competitions.
So, how do sailing events actually work then? 10 medal events will be held with each event consisting of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position. The winner gets one point; the second-places finisher gets two points and so on. The final race is called the "Medal Race" where points are doubled. Following the medal race the individual/crew with the fewest total points is declared the winner. Got it? Good!
Now that the technical bit is out of the way, we can talk about the fun stuff. As a sailing venue, Weymouth is brilliant. It's put me through my paces over the years and often has a sneaky trick up its sleeve. The topography and lay of the land provides a great challenge and I always enjoy a good battle out on the water. Weather wise, it's windy and cold! Luckily there's loads of hot chocolate back on land afterwards.
On a more personal note, sailing at Weymouth for the London 2012 Olympic Games means the world to me. I remember sailing there as a youngster and it holds a very special place in my heart. The sailing academy at Weymouth has grown and developed with me. As the venue became more established and respected in the sailing world, so did I. We've helped one another become who we are today, and for the London 2012 Olympic Games to be held there, feels like it's all come full circle.
I can't wait to sail for a home crowd and see how my competition handles the venue I've come to know and love. After the Games, the sailing academy will benefit from the state of the art facilities left behind. The legacy of Weymouth is very important to me and I hope the young guns of today will have the same opportunity to learn, grow and shape their futures there just like I did.
Speak to you soon,
Over the years I've learned that preparation for big events is crucial and that "failing to plan is planning to fail".
To ensure that every sporting events goes off without a hitch during Games Time, my friends at UPS helped deliver a series of test events in and around London in the lead up to the Games. The series was an ideal opportunity for UPS to test operational time frames as well as bespoke logistic strategies developed for each event.
From Road Cycling, Equestrian and Sailing to BMX and Basketball and Gymnastics, the team has delivered more than 8 sets of test events to date, using what we call the 3 T's - teamwork, timing and tailor-made solutions.
With BMX and Basketball, the team had to stage two complex events at once. During the Road Cycling event, they had to lay and clear the roads before London even woke up. In Greenwich Park, the team turned an equestrian area into a complete modern pentathlon setting - in 48 hours!
In January, the team delivered the Gymnastics test event at the North Greenwich Arena. Not only did they manage to set up the arena in time but the whole Team went on to qualify for London 2012 for the first time since Barcelona 1992! And if that wasn't enough, my fellow UPS ambassador, Louis Smith won Individual Gold at the event too.
Speak to you soon,
Last time I chatted to you about all the things I've been up to. This time I thought I'd share with you some of the stories of what my fellow UPS London 2012 ambassadors and I have been doing with the team at UPS.
In honour of London 2012, UPS employees are contributing 2,012 volunteer hours to the Games and we've been helping them achieve their goal - and having some fun along the way too. The employee volunteer program is important to UPS for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's a chance for us to help inspire and encourage the team; an opportunity for them to bond, and lastly, it's a way of helping the wider UK team feel a part of London 2012. And this is what they did:
My fellow ambassador and Olympic young gun, gymnast Louis Smith visited the UPS Call Centre in Nottingham, met the team and gave them the opportunity to ask some burning questions. In short, his favourite music is reggae, he loves chicken, rice and peas, and if he weren't a gymnast he'd be a singer!
Then it was my turn to roll my sleeves up and get my hands dirty (literally)! With the help of Louis and a team of enthusiastic UPS employees, we helped clear the St. James Churchyard Garden in Piccadilly, London as part of the rejuvenation of the space as a legacy project.
Last but not least, as part of the Get Fit For 2012 campaign, adidas invited all the London 2012 sponsors to compete and battle it out in a series of events. The events included football, squash, badminton, swimming, volleyball and even Sumo wrestling. Thanks to dedication and team participation, Team UPS beat Deloitte, Visa, BMW, adidas and won the Inter-Company Challenge!
With the Games just a few months away I'm looking forward to adding a few more hours to the pot and seeing what the team has me doing next!
Speak to you soon,
As the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, I've no doubt there were plenty of people who reacted with surprise at just how quickly our Olympic year had come around.
But for those of us on the London 2012 logistics team, there was certainly no such surprise. We have been focused for many months on delivering the best Olympic and Paralympic Games yet, always with an eye on that immovable deadline - 27 July 2012.
With just 150 days to go until the opening ceremony, our preparations have stepped up several gears.
We have now completed live testing of our logistics operations at a host of London Prepares test events, with only a handful of venues left to go. Because these events have been live competitions with athletes, organisers and spectators all involved, it has really enabled us to scrutinise every link in the logistics chain, as close as possible to real-life Games conditions.
Most recently, we organised the logistics, installation and break-down of the gymnastics events at the North Greenwich Arena. The event was particularly poignant for us as we got to see first-hand our UPS London 2012 Ambassador Louis Smith captain Team GB's gymnastics team as they successfully qualified for the London 2012 Games.
It was fantastic to see Louis' hard work paying off, and served as a reminder to our team of the rewards to come for completing our own London 2012 mission.
The other great thing about testing logistics at live events, is that any event will throw up challenges you hadn't previously planned for. For us, this is crucial, because it allows us to test the flexibility and adaptability of our processes and, if necessary, re-examine our contingency plans.
A great example of this was our experience during the road cycling test event in the summer of 2011. It took place on the same weekend the London riots occurred, and so at the eleventh hour our team was required to secure all the road barriers we'd deployed over nearly 11 miles of road. We worked around the clock over the weekend to complete the task, and it was certainly a tough challenge to undertake. But as a result, we now have much better contingency plans in place should something similar happen during the London 2012 Games.
This is really what good logistical planning is all about - being ready and prepared to tackle the challenges you can't always forecast.
Or as Donald Rumsfeld once put it, you have to plan for the 'known knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns'.
It is a mantra I've certainly come to appreciate as we enter the final stages of our London 2012 preparations.
Last time we got together I told you about my diet and training programme, but I haven't really chatted to you about how I got into gymnastics and managed to
turn something I loved into a real career. People always ask me how/why I
became a professional gymnast in a country where every little kid wants to be a
famous footballer. Most kids get a football/tennis racquet/cricket bat to play
with; no one ever gets a pommel horse!
I loved football in school but eventually I got a bit bored of it and wanted to try something new. I remember my mum saying I couldn't focus on anything. Then
she came up with an idea - she'd take me to a gymnastics club in Huntingdon and
see what I thought. And, I loved it! I was only 6 years old but something about
gymnastics grabbed me.
It was the only thing that kept me focused and interested (and off mum's walls.) I
loved the repetition and trying to get something perfect. I loved that it wasn't easy and I really had to concentrate to get the routines right. Then I watched the 1996 Olympics on telly and thought to myself - "Wow, let's go there and do that."
My mum drove me back and forth down the A1 to the gym 6 days a week for more than 10 years. She's the only reason why I'm here today and I owe it all to her. She's been by my side for 14 years. She's helped me through the hard times,
like training through a painful injury. And she's been there through the good times too, like two Gold and Silver medals at the Commonwealth Games and one Olympic Bronze. One of my highlights was having my mum by my side in Beijing.
She traveled half way around the world to support me, having barely been out of
My coach, Paul Hall, has also been there since the beginning. He helped me win my
first title when I was 14 and we've worked harder and aimed higher ever since. With the London 2012 Olympic Games just around the corner, I want to make my mum proud and give her a bit of "pay back" for driving me to the gym and back more than 3000 times since I was 6.
Speak to you soon,
People often ask about my exercise regimen and the kind of training I
need to do to be fast and powerful on the water. As a youngster I realised that you need a powerful core to sail, so I've always concentrated on that part of my body the most. When I changed to Finn Class, I had to gain 15 kilos to handle the physical demands of a bigger boat.
Sailing is a gruelling sport. You're basically pushing water out of the
way for your boat to move through. You're pulling down sails, and then putting them back up, all while rocking the boat to propel it forward.
It's simple - the more effort you put in, the further you go. Just like
in life. So understandably, training for sailing is different to many other
sports. Doing loads of weights in the gym doesn't prepare your body in the same way as sailing. So when I'm at gym, I focus on cardio and aerobic exercises. Cardio is important because I need to maintain, lose or gain weight depending on the demands of my next regatta. It helps to be heavier in a breeze and lighter with little wind. So when I'm preparing for a regatta somewhere windy like Australia, I do heavier weights with fewer repetitions and vice versa. If I'm going somewhere still and calm like China, I'll do more reps with lighter weights and avoid the pies.
Not only do I love giving my body a challenge and seeing the results, I am
passionate about different kinds of sports fitness. Last year I joined
the Harlequins (Premiership Rugby Club) for a training session and to see how we compared physically and mentally. I love rugby so this was a great opportunity to learn more about the demands of our sports and of course - have a laugh. The session tested our individual aerobic fitness, ball handling, muscle strength and decision-making ability. It wasn't easy but I had a brilliant time and I'm looking forward to incorporating a few things I learnt into my pre-Olympic training programme.
I hope that gives you a bit more insight into what I do outside of the boat to perform at my best.
Speak to you soon,
When UPS approached me last year with the opportunity to represent them as one of their London 2012 Olympic Games Ambassadors, I was pretty excited. Back then, I didn't know much about UPS and logistics, all I knew was that they had loads of brown vans all over the show! But getting to know the team has been great and I've learnt a few things along the way too.
But what I didn't know was that UPS would help me when I found myself in a massive fix (in the middle of Mexico)! Recently I was in Cancun, Mexico, attending a Warm Weather Training Camp as part of my London 2012 preparations. It wasn't long after I arrived when I realised I was missing something, my mobile phone was gone and I had no way of reaching anyone back home.
Because I live in the UK, I needed a sim card from my home country so I couldn't just buy one there. I managed to get hold of my agent on the Wednesday who got me a replacement and shipped it via UPS. Then disaster struck, the plane that my new phone was on experienced a mechanical delay and was stuck in the UK.
Fortunately for me, UPS loves logistics. Apparently they were able to implement a contingency plan that put my phone on another flight from the UK that went directly to the U.S. 24 hours later my new phone was safely in my hands in Cancun and I was able to work hard and carry on with my training camp.
Speak to you soon,
Until recently I've never given a thought to how the temporary studios that I've strolled into over the years have been built or equipped. But teaming up with UPS and discovering what they'll be doing to deliver the Games in London has given me great insight.
If anything, I had only remotely considered the equipment that affected my personal broadcast responsibilities, but UPS is responsible for moving a whopping 400 tonnes of broadcast equipment to the Games. Everything from TV cameras, lenses and tri-pods to camcorders and cables for thousands of photographers, sound engineers, technicians and presenters from all over the world.
Over the years there has been the odd moment that prompted my admiration. I remember in 1992, our state-of-the-art broadcast scanner was at Silverstone, in the heart of the television compound, amidst about thirty miles of cable. Once the broadcast was over, I said farewell to the director, left the scanner and drove north to Muirfield for the Open Championship. Admittedly I stopped on the way overnight
and had a leisurely breakfast the next morning, but when I arrived at Muirfield
the giant scanner was in the compound, rigged and ready to go - well before I
At the end of the Open I was on a tight schedule. I raced home, packed a new suitcase, made a few calls, did half a days work at television centre then flew to Barcelona for our Olympic coverage. I beat the scanner into the Barcelona compound by less than ninety minutes.
I'm looking forward to watching similar logistical miracles with UPS - especially because they will be achieved with a sense of routine and no drama whatsoever. I have a feeling that watching UPS deliver the Games may overtake my impressive Silverstone scanner memory!
- Steve Rider
When I retired from professional sport I thought life would slow down slightly, but if
anything, my weeks are busier and even more chaotic. There's no such thing as a
typical week for me anymore. Training for up to 6 hours a day, everyday used to
provide more structure to my time. Now that my time has freed up, I am able to
do more with it.
From filming TV programmes and representing various brands, to speaking to young people and politicians - every week is different. And that's the professional side of things! I'm also a mom, a wife and a very proud London 2012 ambassador. I have to be ruthlessly organised and plan everything ahead of time. Having a strong
and supportive team helps enormously, a little bit of delegation goes a long way.
People have heard a lot about my sporting "bests" over the years but there have been so many personal "bests" that I'm equally proud of. My wedding day and the healthy birth of my children are daily reminders of how blessed I am.
Presenting to the IOC in the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games was a tremendous honour. It was followed by an anxious wait, but I will never forget the moment the
final announcement was made.
These are the memories that stand out and bring me great pride and joy, and make all the busy, chaotic weeks more than worthwhile.
Speak to you soon,
In the lead up to London 2012, my training schedule has intensified and at the moment we're training hard and ironing out all the little creases. I have a day off now and then but it's difficult to sit back and relax when you think that while you're tucking into a bag of salted peanuts, one of your competitors could be in the gym getting fitter and stronger.
On a training day, I usually start with a warm-up that takes about an hour. I focus on stretching and general conditioning. Most of the time I use my own body weight for this but occasionally I'll pick up a free weight or two. Then I do about 3 apparatus sessions with different combinations, focusing on the ones I'll be using in upcoming competitions.
Afterwards, I'll have a break and enjoy a good healthy lunch. After my break I'll do exercises that help with my individual elements, these include loads of handstands, push-ups and lift ups. I do lots of mid-body stuff to help strengthen my core and improve my posture.
Some training days are hard and you don't feel as strong, but you just have to work through them and try to not let them get you down. Mental strength gives you physical strength when you need it most.
Being a professional sportsman and Olympian is hard. But it's the dedication and the will to get up and train that eventually gets you there. You can be a naturally gifted athlete but without focus, discipline and self-motivation you will never be a true champion.
Speak to you guys soon,
UPS Takes on Logistics Challenge of Delivering Two Events with Just 12 Hours Changeover at Games Time
UPS today completed competition logistics for the first London 2012 Paralympic Games test event, the London International Goalball, which seamlessly followed delivery of the Handball test event at the same venue last week.
A team sport designed for visually impaired athletes, Goalball participants compete in teams of three, throwing a ball that has bells embedded past their opponents and across the goal line. Teams alternate throwing or rolling the ball from one end of the playing area to the other, and players remain in the area of their own goal in both defence and attack. Players use only the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball at any one time.
Both events were taking place in the Handball Arena on the Olympic Park as part of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG's) 'London Prepares' series. During Games time, the events will run with less than 12 hours changeover time; everything from specialist equipment to competition flooring is required to change in order to transform the arena from a Handball to Goalball competition space within a matter of hours.
The 'London Prepares' series offers UPS, LOCOG and athletes alike the opportunity to practice and perfect their performance prior to Games time. UPS has been using each event as a test case for how logistical operations will be managed and delivered to all venues next summer.
In time for the first Paralympic test event tomorrow, UPS has delivered everything from specially designed Goalball ball's and competitor uniforms, to more than 2,600 pieces of furniture including over 612 chairs.
As the Official Logistics and Express Delivery Supporter of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, UPS is using the London Prepares series to demonstrate its capabilities in executing complex logistics in live environments similar to those which will be in operation during the London 2012 Games.
"At UPS we believe that preparedness is the key driver of success, especially when delivering two events like these in such close succession," said Cindy Miller, managing director, UPS UK, Ireland & Nordics. "By utilising our experience from other Games such as Beijing 2008, together with the opportunity to test run operations across key events such as these, we are fully prepared to deliver the best Games yet."
UPS is responsible for virtually all logistics services for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games via an integrated supply chain solution that includes venue logistics services, warehousing services and a distribution network that will collect and deliver everything from documents to heavy freight. UPS also will be responsible for all customs clearance, freight forwarding and courier services before, during and after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In my last blog I told you a bit about what I've been up to lately but I haven't really told you how I got to this point and about all the milestones that lead me here. I started sailing at the age of 4 and my parents bought me my first dinghy when I was 8 and I competed for the first time when I was 10.
My dad Roderick "Roddy" Ainslie captained a boat that took part in the very first "Whitbread Round the World Race" in 1973, so I suppose that instilled something in me. When I was 11, I participated in my first international competition in Japan. I absolutely loved sailing as I kid; I gave it everything I had every time I was out on the water. I was quite a shy kid so I was happy being on my boat on my own for a few hours. I was invited to the national squad when I was 11 and competed for a few years after that. When I was 17, I started thinking about the 1996 Olympic Games - it seemed like a natural transition to make for the time. My parents came with me to Atlanta where I managed to clinch silver and become the world's youngest Olympic sailing medalist. I still remember feeling a bit disappointed though. I wanted more. I wanted Olympic gold.
Four years later I went to Sydney and got it. After Sydney I spent a year with the "One World Challenge" America's Cup Campaign, but I realised that switching to Finn Class was what I wanted to do. Changing to Finn was hard work; I had to put on 15 kilos to be the ideal weight for the class! But eventually the hard work paid off and I won the Finn World Championships.
Sailing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 was well, memorable. The venue was notorious. It had tricky light winds and very strong tides. Oh, and I had mumps. But I sailed through it and won my third consecutive Olympic gold medal. One of my proudest moments was being honoured Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's New Year Honours List in 2009. Since then, I've been preparing for the London 2012 Olympic Games where I hope to win my fourth consecutive gold on home waters!
Speak to you soon,
I've been fortunate enough to enjoy an Olympic Broadcasting experience that has spanned thirty odd years. Between each Games, I've been heavily involved in presenting, notably golf, international rugby, football at the highest level. But every four years, your attendance at the Summer Olympics was a kind of endorsement that you were still operating at the highest level.
My first Games time broadcast experience was over 35 years ago. Although broadcasting is a term I would only use loosely in connection with my work at Montreal in 1976. I was the only correspondent for Independent Radio News, had no credentials and could only report on the action by ringing my mate in the UK who was watching the whole thing on the BBC! Four years later I was presenting for ITV in Moscow and for the first time with Coe v Ovett in particular, I felt I was presenting from the sidelines of one of the great events in sporting history. From 1988 onwards I was with the BBC and the greatest experiences of all were to be lakeside in Sydney and Athens when Redgrave and Pinsent won their fifth and fourth gold medals respectively.
Where I was especially lucky was to experience at the first hand how the Olympics, and Olympic broadcasting, have moved into the modern technological era. In Montreal in '76, blagging a telephone was the challenge; four years later we covered a lot of the Moscow Games on film. There was video, but the tapes weighed about forty pounds each and you edited them with a razor blade. Now 2012 will come at you via a whole range of baffling platforms and every second of every event will be available live. Astonishing.
Similarly, UPS has fostered their own relationship with the Games over the years. From sponsoring the Games in Atlanta in 1996, to handling more than 19 million individual items at Beijing in 2008. In 2012, UPS will be responsible for the movement of every piece of sports and broadcast equipment to and from London, and we'll have the opportunity to celebrate our personal journeys with the Games, together.
- Steve Rider
Working alongside UPS has made me think a little bit more about the logistics behind a staging (and competing) in a heptathlon event. The fact that you need 15 pieces of equipment before you even begin the event makes it one of the most logistically "challenging" sports in the world. These include 3 different shots, 3 javelin spears, 7 pairs of spikes, 1 pair of trainers and 1 pair of weightlifting shoes! In addition, there are various logistical processes that are key to competing successfully in a heptathlon, including:
- Planning your travel to competition venues well before the event.
- Making sure that all your equipment is safe, sound and easy to access
- Ensuring the whole team is in the right place at the right time.
- Maintaining clear communication channels at all times.
It's usually the athlete's job to make sure the equipment is packaged properly for transportation to the venue. Then it's up to the Governing Body or in case of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the British Olympic Association to liaise with UPS to ensure equipment is delivered safely to the final destination. That being said, I would keep my orthotics in my hand luggage no matter where I was travelling! Oh, and Egbert (my teddy) always travelled with me. Then on competition day, I would be in charge of making sure I have the right spikes for the right event and suitable clothing for the weather conditions and any possible change in the weather at a later stage during the day. It's a lot to think about. Before you can even begin to think about your performance!
The heptathlon (and all the planning and preparation that goes with it) is as much of a mental competition as a physical one. Focus and mental strength are just as important as muscular strength. To help myself prepare mentally, I would visualise my performance, down to the smallest detail. I rehearsed them over and over in my mind until they were flawless in my mind's eye. Then I could go out and try make them happen.
I suppose I've always been "logistically-minded" in my approach to competitions, without even realising it. Teaming up with UPS made me realise how important those little things were and in all probability, played a big part in my story.
Since I first teamed up with UPS, I started thinking about the logistics involved in sport and in the world of gymnastics especially. I soon realised that there are two parts to it, the first has to do with the venue, my equipment and my team, and the second part is all about me - my body, my preparation and my performance.
Knowing that all my equipment will be where it needs to be on competition day is extremely important and helps me focus on the task at hand. Then the way my team works is a logistics process in itself - making sure we're all in the right place at the right time is just as important. Juggling competitions, training, sponsorship and personal commitments is tricky and you need to be very organised, every step of the way.
Then there's the second part - me! When I'm on the pommel horse, every muscle and tendon in my body work like a powerful, invisible network helping each other move, bend and shift. And my brain controls it all... It delivers hundreds of thousands of messages (not in little brown packages!) from my fingers to my toes. To perfect a routine in gymnastics you need to repeat it a hundred times over until it becomes second nature - until you do it without even thinking.
There are a handful of key elements in gymnastics - a big pattern that made up smaller parts. Each part of the pattern depends on the one before it. The same rule applies in successful logistics, the final time and destination of an item depends entirely on the journey in all its single parts.
Logistics and gymnastics share so many important qualities including timing, communication and repetition. They both rely on the small, seemingly unimportant things to make the big impressive things happen. Gymnastics has allowed me to do something I love every day and in a funny way, so has logistics.
And to think a few months ago the only thing I ever thought they had in common was ending in "stics"!
Speak to you guys soon,