Without a doubt it has been a fantastic summer of Olympic and Paralympic achievements, celebrations – and some disappointments.
Monday’s victory parade, with more than 90% of Team GB Olympic and Paralympic athletes travelling on open-top floats through London, will have been a chance for everyone to say a final ‘congratulations’ to these extraordinary athletes. But more than this, I believe the parade serves as a congratulations to a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Britain.
Team GB is made up of highly talented and driven people from all walks of life. From a wide mix of ethnic minority backgrounds and faiths, those brought up in cities or the countryside, to those with a public or private education – Team GB’s athletes really have shown us what we can achieve if stereotypes and unconscious bias is broken down.
Many of the athletes cited the Olympic crowds, and wider public support, as a huge boost in helping them to succeed, including Jessica Ennis, gold winner of the Heptathlon, and Mo Farah, gold winner of the 10,000m and the 5,000m races. Mo said: “If it wasn’t for the crowd it wouldn’t have happened. They give you that lift, that boost, and it was just incredible.”
What has been so striking about London 2012 is the sheer pride and support the nation has shown all of its Team GB athletes, regardless of their background, gender or disability. I am certain that this will have challenged many people to honestly ask themselves how they usually view people different to themselves.
It also proves to me that it is possible for people to accept one another just based on ability.
If we can do it for a few weeks during 2012 there is no reason why we can’t continue to achieve this amazing ‘One Team’ spirit in our societies, communities and our workplaces permanently.
My hope is that the ‘we’re in it together’ atmosphere that took over the country is continued by all people, employees and employers alike, into our workplaces and communities – this would be the true legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics.
By Sandra Kerr OBE,
Director of Race for Opportunity
Race for Opportunity is the race equality campaign from Business in the Community