Monday, Feb 22 2009
With seven days of Olympics competition remaining, the Canadian Olympic Committee has introduced the Blown the Podium campaign after conceding Canada will not achieve its Own the Podium campaign goal of finishing first overall in the medal count.
COC CEO Chris Rudge said “we are going to be short of our goal” at the team’s daily news briefing.
Canada entered Monday with9 medals (4G-4S-1B), tied for fourth with South Korea. It is far behind the United States at 24. Germany was second with 17, followed by Norway with 12. Canada is even behind its pace in Turin 4 years ago when it had 13 medals at this point in the games. Canada finished with 24 medals then, third overall and its best winter Olympics showing ever.
Considering the US has 24 medals now, and it is uncatchable, Canada is not going to even reach its Turin performance!
So much for the ambitious Own the Podium campaign introduced 5 years ago.
Introduced on a “feeling” that the Canadian team needed to aim high and capture the imagination of the Canadian public, Canada showed a great start with the best winter Olympics showing in 2006 just a year after the campaign started. This was with the men’s hockey debacle. However, whatever projection data the COC had in hand prior to this Olympics, it wasn’t accurate. Its star athletes have hardly stepped up so far, while a few it overlooked for sponsorship and media attention stepped up big time.
Regardless, this program which saw $117 million invested in athletes, $66 million of which was taxpayer dollars, will fail miserably in the outcome. It has even caused frustration and complaints among some. Long track speed skater Denny Morrison, who wasn’t even close in his 2 potential medals, stated his training went downhill after his rival and training partner Shani Davis was banned from training with him in Calgary due to Own the Podium restrictions (CTV, Feb 20). It was a sort of “don’t train in Canada” version of “buy Canadian”. Whether you believe Denny or not, losing a training partner that pushes you to your best can’t be good for your training. Furthermore, Shani Davis agreed. Davis met Morrison in Calgary just before Turin and made Morrison rise in the world rankings quickly.
Norwegian skier Aksel Svindal also said the program did Canadians a disservice by preventing him from training with the Canadian alpine team on the Whistler slopes, as he’d done in the past. Aksel won gold in the super G, and claimed to be faster in the middle of the course than any competitor, something he said the Canadian skiers could have benefited in training from his knowledge.
The Blown the Podium campaign will have the French name of Pas Nous le Podium, correctly translated or not because at this point, the COC doesn’t care much. About the campaign, of course, not about the French language. Even on such a meaningless thing, to leave the French out of it would be upset the French community who has already whined incessantly about how there wasn’t enough French in the opening ceremony! (CTV Feb 15)
I hope they complained in French because it would have been hypocritical for them to do so in English. The way I understood it, there was a greater percentage of French in the ceremonies than French Canadians of the French population, and that makes me plenty satisfied they got their fair share.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.6