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An arena where everyone was 100% encouraging ...

Guest blogger Steve Cole from Artisan Initiatives on the Games and a culture of encouragement ...

Guest blogger Steve Cole from Artisan Initiatives reflects on Britain's golden sporting summer ...

"You even caused tube passengers to burst into spontaneous conversation’.  

This is a quote from Boris Johnson's (Mayor of London) hilarious speech to the Olympic and Paralympic athletes outside Buckingham Palace after their parade through the streets with more than a million people on Monday (10 September).

For many of us in Britain, the past weeks will stay with us for the rest of our days. The Olympic and Paralympic Games blended with Andy Murray winning his first major in New York, Rory winning another golf major and Bradley winning the Tour de France. Fused then with my own win in the Coley World Table Tennis Championship in Italy beating my 11-year-old son in five grueling sets, this has truly been Britain’s greatest summer of sport.

On Sunday night I took my family to the closing ceremony of the Paralympics and three days on I am still trying to come to terms with the experience. It’s almost a feeling of creative indigestion, too much too quickly! But the ceremony for me was so much more than Coldplay, Rihanna, pioneering visual innovations and choreography that took everyone’s breath away.

The highlight of the whole evening for me came before the light faders had gone up and the cameras had started to broadcast. At 7.15pm the Paralympic teams were introduced into the arena and country by country 4200 epic stories from 164 nations walked or were wheeled onto the field of play to take their places before the start of the ceremony. 

At that moment the stadium rose as one with such a roar to greet the athletes as they came into the stadium. The ovation was so immense for every person from every nation, colour, creed and ability that I turned away from my kids and my wife as I did not want them to see me cry.

A journalist that had been cynical before the games wrote about how it had taken him a while to realise why he was so emotionally caught up in the euphoria of the games. He then acknowledged that he had never been in an arena where everyone was 100% encouraging. Some 80,000 people from many of the world’s nations with no segregation encouraged every single athlete from every nation whether they were first or in last place.

People can do amazing things when there is a spirit and culture of encouragement. What a challenge this is for us all in the creative industries.

Thousands of people have been praying for these Olympics. There was a significant coordinated national prayer movement that followed the journey of the torch who also prayed throughout the games.

"Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."

The experience on Sunday gave me a glimpse into the eternal and the fruit that comes from this collective heart cry ‘Kingdom come’ prayer.  Some 80,000 people from 164 nations, united, encouraged, affirmed and celebrated through words, film, art, music, fashion, design, engineering, innovation, lighting … 

Alongside all this were 79 000 volunteers who brought such a positive dynamic to our city that I so miss. How I long for more of these glimpses through our industries and in our nations.

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