Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Time to Bemoan The Podium

COC will 'eviscerate' failed OTP program

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VANCOUVER -- Own The Podium has officially gone from a winning blueprint to wishful thinking.

Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, conceded Monday the goal of finishing first in the medal standings at the Vancouver Games is not going to happen.

"There's going to be a lot of questions asked about Own The Podium," Rudge acknowledged. "We will eviscerate this program in every detail when we're finished. It's painful to go into the autopsy while the patient is still alive and kicking.

"We'll quantify the success of the program in terms of total medals after the Games are over. We're still working as hard as we can to make sure these athletes get the support they need and know we are behind them."

The Canadian public invested heavily in OTP. Of the $117 million invested in athletes, $66 million of it was taxpayer dollars. VANOC, the organizing committee for the Games, covered most of the remainder through corporate sponsorships.

Canada finished Monday with 10 medals (5-4-1), in fifth place and far behind the Americans with 25. The Germans were second with 21 followed by Norway with 14 and Russia with 11.

Canada won a record 24 medals four years ago in Turin, Italy, finishing third overall in the medal count. At their current medal-a-day pace, the host team will be hard-pressed to surpass that number.

"We're probably going to be in a tough fight with the Germans for second and third," Rudge predicted. "What's important is that every athlete who has a chance to medal, does so.

"Our goal is to maximize the opportunities we still have and make sure we continue to give those athletes still competing the opportunity to reach the podium."

It felt like an elephant left the room when Rudge told reporters that winning more medals than any other country was no longer realistic at the Games.

"We'd be living in a fool's paradise if we said we were going to catch the Americans and win," Rudge said Monday. "We're not throwing in the towel. You never do that when you are in the middle of a fight, but it's difficult.

"They are way out ahead and it would be unrealistic to state that we are going to catch them."

 

-- The Canadian Press

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2010 C2

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