This week I wanted to share some observations from the second of the men’s 110-metre hurdles heats at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The rain was pouring down as the competitors lined up and it was expected that Deuce Carter from Jamaica and Orlando Ortega from Spain would complete the formality of qualifying.

In the studio, ex-athlete hurdler Colin Jackson was explaining how the rain would affect the runners, saying the floodlights reflecting off the rain on the track make it difficult for the hurdler to see the hurdles clearly. Not to mention the torrential rain and the standing water they had to run through.

As the race unfolded Ortega duly completed the heat as expected in first place, unfortunately for Carter, he hit the penultimate hurdle with his knee, and ‘stepped’ on the final hurdle sending him stumbling, and he stepped out of his lane and finished 7th.

However, what really made me think was the assessment of Olympic Legend Michael Johnson in the post-race analysis.

See, if we draw the analogy of the weather being representative of market conditions then there were some important lessons to be gleaned from this race.

Firstly, it was raining for everyone so all competitors had to deal with the same circumstances.

This is the same for businesses and salespeople, they have to survive and succeed in the same market conditions as their competitors.

When reviewing the start of the race ‘Johnson’ focussed particularly on the demeanour and attitude of the two expected qualifiers.

ortega 2Ortega, the eventual winner looked completely focussed. Blocking out the weather conditions and hopping up and down looking like a man who was relishing the challenge and one ready to take his opportunity to qualify for an Olympic Final.

In contrast, Carter looked like a man who wanted to be anywhere but where he was. His body language suggested the conditions were getting to him and he was shaking his head and looking at the ground.

As we know, Ortega won in 13.02 and Carter finished seventh and suffered disqualification for stepping out of his lane.

In business, the people who succeed are the ones who accept the market conditions, relish the challenge and stay focussed. Salespeople who focus on their own performance and ‘get past’ market conditions are the ones who carry on selling regardless.


You and your competitors are all in the same boat, take personal responsibility and focus on your performance, your technique and your training, and you will be more successful more often.

PS.  There was a happy ending when the Organisers recognised that the conditions in the second heat were different to heats one, three and four, allowing those who failed to qualify from heat two to compete in a further heat. Carter then qualified from the re-run in 13.50 seconds.

It’s not often you get a second chance and Carter should count himself lucky the conditions faired up for the later heats otherwise he would have blown his chance.

Stay Focussed!

Good luck and good selling!

And remember if I can help in any way please do get in touch.