Courage – Stenson and Pendleton set an example

It's not something we often have to demonstrate in our business lives, but there were two tremendous examples of real courage in the sporting world yesterday.

Firstly, Henrik Stenson was leading the Masters golf for most of his first round on Thursday. Then he came to the 18th, and played it in a fascinating way, managing to hit 5 dreadful shots with 5 different clubs (snap hook with the driver, a topped mid-iron that travelled 60 yards along the ground, a full wedge that went 20 yards over the green, a little pitch that didn’t reach the putting surface, then 3 putts from 10 feet). That was an 8 and took him from the lead to well down the leaderboard. It reminded me of when I used to play golf...

Then the following day.. he went out and shot a 71, one under par, which took him back up into the top ten. And that included a birdie at the last hole. Personally, I would have been hiding under the bedclothes for the rest of the weekend...

Victoria Pendleton

That was mental courage. But arguably even more impressive was Victoria Pendleton. We all know she’s very attractive, but because of that, it’s easy to think she just floats serenely around the cycling track, waving to the crowd, winning a few medals, then going off to her photo shoot with FHM magazine.

Well, watch this – Victoria Pendleton in the world cycling championships. I can't embed the video here but you can see it on the BBC site here.

In her semi-final, the first of the three legs, against her arch rival Anna Meares (think Holmes and Moriarty, Batman and the Joker, Spend Matters and Supply Management...), she had a fall while travelling at full speed in the finishing straight. Crashing to the ground, she then slid along the track for 30 yards or so. It was her own fault as well – she couldn’t even blame her rival. If the ambulance had turned up to cart her off to casualty, no-one would have been surprised.

But no. She got back on the bike, bruises, cuts and grazes notwithstanding, and won the second leg when Meares was disqualified for almost knocking her over again. So on to the deciding race. Coming off the last bend, Pendleton looked too far behind, but in an amazing sprint, she passed  and won by – quite literally – an inch. That took her through to the final, where she won again, taking the gold medal.

Frankly, just getting up again after that fall was pretty amazing, let alone getting back on the bike, let alone finding the power and determination for that final sprint. If it had been the Olympics rather than the World championships she would be immortalised for her achievement – but whatever happens in London in a few months time, she’s up there with Redgrave, Hurley and Boycott in my list of sporting heroes now.

So...  can I bring this back to procurement? Probably not. But there are odd times in our lives and careers when we need to show courage. Watch and remember Ms. Pendleton and perhaps that might inspire us in those testing moments !

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