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Making the case for Own the Podium

Officials, athletes say Canada in a stronger position in more sports than ever before



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"I really hope (government) will keep putting funding into amateur sport, and that hopefully these Games will fire up Canadians to get excited about sports and athletes. I know I'm looking forward to Russia (2014 Games) already."

Emily Brydon has announced that she will retire from the Canadian Alpine Ski Team at the end of this season, but said Own The Podium should continue to move forward.

"(Own The Podium) has to start at the grass roots," she said. "It takes a while, you don't get Olympians overnight. It's going to be a process and I think in Russia we'll see the results as some of our younger athletes (who benefited from Own The Podium) step up. And if you look at the results in the World Cup this year and in past years our performance was substantially greater. That's a direct result of Own The Podium and the sponsors we've had."

Roger Jackson, the CEO of Own The Podium, acknowledged last week that Canada could fall short of its goal to finish with more medals than any other nation. As of Sunday morning, the United States was far ahead in the medals standings with 23 medals, including six gold. Germany was second with 14 medals. Canada stood fifth with eight medals, including four gold.

However, Jackson said it was too early to count Canada out as there were a lot of events remaining where Canada was fielding contenders.

"Gold medal performances like Jon Montgormery's are the reason we set such high goals," said Jackson in his blog. "Indeed, Own The Podium set a challenging goal by trying to be the top medal winner of these Olympic Games. Whether we achieve that is not the issue. It is that we try to be the best we can be."

Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said it would be tough for the Canadians to catch the American team but said that Canada still had solid medal hopefuls in the remaining events - and that any improvement over the 2006 Games would be worth celebrating.

At the 2006 Olympics Canada placed third in the medals standings with 24 medals.

A few athletes have even taken to blaming Own The Podium for results, as well as the extra pressure and expectations surrounding athletes at the Games.

Speed skater Denny Morrison said Own The Podium limited his opportunities to train against the top U.S. skaters at the Richmond Oval, making it hard to measure his progress. Norwegian skier Aksel Lund-Svindal said the decision to host Canada-only camps in Whistler made it impossible for the Canadians to study the techniques of other athletes and choose the best lines.