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Athlete Derek Redmond at our Engineering Conference

Former Olympian and GB 400 metre champion Derek Redmond told us how sport can improve our wellbeing and our teamwork

FCDO Services Engineering Conference 2019

Our main site, Hanslope Park, hosted this year’s FCDO Services Engineering Conference. Members of our UK and overseas-based engineering community attended several specialist lectures throughout the week. We opened the final day to all staff, and Derek Redmond’s talk ‘Sport is a Business and Business is a Sport’ was a highlight.

The importance of trusting your team

Derek used the GB 4x400m relay at the 1991 IAAF World Championships to demonstrate the importance of trusting your team. The GB team were determined to beat the USA, who had not been beaten for over seven years.

The night before the final, his team – Roger Black, Derek Redmond, John Regis and Kriss Akabusi – changed their running order. They had never tried it before, and it was a completely new strategy. It was a huge risk.

However, Derek stressed that the trust the team had in each other meant they were prepared to take the risk. The next day, they broke a GB national record and won gold, the first GB gold in the event since the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He argued that to innovate and succeed in business you need to trust your team, just as in sport.

How sport helps wellbeing

Derek spoke about how important sport is to his wellbeing. During his infamous race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics he tore his hamstring, and although he struggled to the finish line, it was the end of his running career.

To cope with this loss, Derek began playing different competitive sports. Whether basketball or boxing, rugby or motorcycling, he found that learning new sports has helped maintain his physical and mental health.

Derek’s message of using sport to improve our wellbeing and the importance of trusting our teams to succeed at work was very well received by staff at all levels.