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Many of the companies on the starting of the 2012 London J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge have ties to the Olympic Games, set to begin on July 27.

Cram: Corporate world tied into Olympics
as Games about to begin in London

Olympic medalist Steve Cram fires an air horn at the start of the London J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge on July 12. Cram, ambassador for race beneficiary Barnardo's, pointed out that "there are a lot of companies here this evening who are sponsoring some of the teams."

LONDON, July 18, 2012 — These are the days when big sporting events are plentiful in Great Britain.

Consider the sporting run that London finds itself in the midst of:

Last week's two J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge races attracted 26,000 entrants from 595 companies to Battersea Park. It marked the sixth year in a row that total registrations in London exceeded 25,000 and reached full capacity.

Aberdeen Asset Management, which had a 45-member team from its London office participate in the Corporate Challenge, was the new title sponsor for the Scottish Open, which attracted 63,363 fans in the run-up to this week's British Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club, one of golf's four major tournaments.

Wimbledon concluded earlier in the month in classic fashion with Roger Federer winning his all-time best 17th major title and Serena Williams returning to form to capture the women's crown.

And, of course, the much-awaited London Summer Olympics are now just a little more than a week away, with opening ceremonies scheduled on Friday, July 27.

The Games are much on the minds of many in Great Britain, including the ambassador for Barnardo's — the beneficiary of the 2012 London J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge — Steve Cram.

The silver medalist at one of the Games' glamour events — the 1,500 meter run — in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Cram offered encouragement to runners on the first night of racing at the London Corporate Challenge, then jumped in to jog the course with the sold-out crowd the second night.

Afterwards, he stressed the critical role corporations, many of them participating in the Corporate Challenge events in Battersea Park, are playing in London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics.

“What people forget is that the Olympics don’t happen without corporate sponsorship at all levels, from local athletes who get sponsored to national teams to the Games themselves," Cram said. "The corporate world is very much tied into the Games. There have been approximately 100,000 companies in Britain who have acquired contracts to help make the Games happen, and there are a lot of companies here this evening who are sponsoring some of the teams."

One of those companies is GE Capital, whose company captain, Tim Jones, organized a team of 228 that was on hand for this year's Corporate Challenge.

In a still picture captured from a GE web video, British Olympic triathlete Helen Jenkins demonstrates how to transition from swimming to bike riding. GE Capital sponsors Jenkins.

“GE is a corporate sponsor for the London 2012 Olympics and supports the British triathletes," said Jones, an Executive Assistant in the Treasury Department for the company.

As its significant participation in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge reflects, GE Capital promotes health and fitness in its workforce. So, it is no surprise that the company tied its Olympic triathlon sponsorship into a fitness-based, employee fund-raiser.

"We recently had an event whereby our employees could log their cycling, running and swimming, and then the money raised bought equipment for one of the wheelchair teams,” Jones said.

Another 2012 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge participating company and Olympic sponsor was Beazley, a specialist insurance company.

Health and Fitness is a key element of our business culture, and Beazley is the sponsor of the British Fencing Team," said Lee Blackwell, Management Accountant. "The team have been into Beazley just last week and have provided demonstrations. This has also encouraged the company to set up a Mini Olympics where each team (which is made up of different people from different areas of the business) have participated in different events.”

Paul Gravestock, Content Manager, Enterprise Pricing, for Thomson Reuters, another 2012 London Corporate Challenge team, echoed the connection that this year's Olympic Games are making throughout his company.

"With the Olympics on everyone’s minds, we have recently held a series of informal sessions with some fantastic sports people – Daley Thompson (the 1980 and 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon), Denise Lewis (gold medalist in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics), Claire Williams (who will compete in her third Paralympic Games in London), Danny Crates (the former world Paralympic record holder at 800 meters and gold medalist in the event at the 2004 Athens Olympics), tennis great Greg Rusedski, and Susie Wolft and Bruno Senna from the Williams Formula 1 team," he said.

And, the coming Olympics have even affected the fitness efforts of some London companies, who have literally had to make adjustments as crowds began arriving in their city in advance of the world's largest sporting event. Rolls-Royce, whose Corporate Challenge team roster included members of a running club, is a case in point.

"The club meets every Wednesday lunchtime for a jog around St James Park and Green Park — although this has recently turned into more of an obstacle race, given that we are only 15 days away from the start of the Olympics, and we now tend to do a tour of Whitehall and Trafalgar Square avoiding the traffic!” said Jane Leonard, Community Relations Representative for Rolls-Royce, Corporate Headquarters.

The fitness payoff for these events — from the Corporate Challenge to the Olympics — is enormous, of course, as is the financial impact on Great Britain.

"The Olympic involvement is a massive big tick for corporate Great Britain at a time when it has been quite difficult," said Cram. "The Games have given people and some companies and industries — for example the construction industry — a massive boost, which is great. Now that they have done all their hard work, it’s time for the work of the athletes.”

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