Friday, July 6, 2007

Canada's Ambition for Beijing 2008: Who Cares?

To reach the 15th place in the medal table of the Olympic Games of Beijing, the Canadian Olympic Committee's (COC) summer sports division deemed that the federal government must pour $58.8 million. However, during the previous summer Olympic Games of Athens in 2004, Canada got 12 medals.

Now, guess what? The COC's objective ranged from 18 to 20 medals! No surprise here. In the last federal budget, Finance minister Jim Flaherty decided that the COC's summer sports division won't get a penny!

Moreover, the COC's program called Own the podium 2010 will receive $22 million on a yearly basis. The Canadian government's refusal to financially back Canadian athletes' ambition up for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing probably means something: money won't help Canada to buy a place in the top 10 of the medal table in 2008.

After all, who cares a fig about our country's objective for the next summer Olympic Games? It's true that our athletes can win medals in diving, canoe and rowing. Hence, some money could have been granted to athletes who practice these sports. Indeed, Chris Rudge, the CEO of the COC, said that a governmental support of $10 million can help Canada to get at least 2 to 4 medals more in Beijing.

Nonetheless, almost nobody in Canada just doesn't give a business if our athletes win a medal next year in Beijing. Without being rude, let's not dither to say that there are no improvement to expect from Canada in summer sports. In fact, back in Athens, remember that some of our biggest hopes ended up being flashes in the pan just at the wrong place and at the wrong moment.

For instance, Perdita Félicien, the world champion in hurdling, hit a hurdle and it cost her a gold medal. Secondly, Lyne Bessette finished in 16th place in biking because Dutch biker Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel fell on her. Thirdly, wrestler Daniel Igali, who won a gold medal in Sydney, couldn't go further then the quarter finals. Besides, we can also talk about the bad performance of Canada's swimming team.

Sad though it might sound, helping our athletes for the 2010 winter Olympic Games in Vancouver represents a smarter investment. Last year, the COC's objective was fixed to 25 medals and our country finished the Turin Olympic Games with... 24 medals! The only source of nationwide dismay came from the men's hockey team. Best of all, this nation stood on the 3rd rank in the final medal count.

In general, Canada's performance at Olympic Winter Games has been improving if we start with the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998. While this country got 13 medals in 1998, it went on to win 17 ones in Salt Lake City in 2002. Afterwards, the nation won 24 medals in Turin in 2006. Now, talk about an improvement!

Granting $22 million to the COC's Own the podium 2010 on a yearly basis looks fine if we consider the fact that the next Olympic Winter Games will be held in none other than Vancouver, which is a Canadian city, mind you. Not only we'll welcome the world, but we also want to show to other nations that our home and native land is in a good position to become the world's superpower in winter sports. Remember that Canada finished close to the USA in the final medal count.

Besides, the program Own the podium 2010 is supposed to help Canada to finally keep getting gold medals in winter sports. In fact, whenever Olympic Games were held in Canada, our athletes never won any gold medals. It's clear and obvious that federal subsidies to the COC's Own the podium 2010 will help our athletes to make us proud of who we are, as Canadians, on our own soil by winning gold medals. There's no doubt that most of (if not all) the best winter sport athletes are born in Canada!

Finally, remember that during last year, it was said on CBC that winter is the greatest "reminder of what it means to be a Canadian."

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