The national Own the Podium 2010 program has been officially expanded to include national summer sports as well, making the organization more or less permanent for high performance sports in Canada.
"We believe it is best to bring together Canada's winter and summer high performance programs under one name that represents all of our objectives - to own the podium," said Own The Podium CEO Roger Jackson. "Merging the two winter and summer sport initiatives under one name - Own The Podium - will simplify our operations and reinforce our commitment to provide all of Canada's medal-potential winter and summer sport athletes with access to the critical resources they require to be fully prepared to win."
Own the Podium 2010 was established in 2003 to shore up resources for athletes and sports with medal potential, and to develop and share leading edge sports sciences. The original endowment was $110 million with approximately half that money coming from Olympic sponsors and the remainder coming from federal and provincial governments.
The money has been allotted to sports based on their potential to win medals, going towards camps, coaches and the athletes themselves, although a large portion has been diverted into the Top Secret program to develop leading edge technologies and sports sciences, such as new techniques and materials for waxing ski bases and the new Whistler Bomber four-man bobsleigh. The program also hires various strength trainers, nutritionists, psychologists and other experts to work with high performance athletes.
Own The Podium has not finalized how it would fund support for summer and winter sports athletes or how the money will be divided between sports, athletes and sports sciences.
To date the Own The Podium program has been regarded as a success. This past season Canada's athletes made national history at World Championship events, which always take place a year before the Olympic Games.
While most athletes would prefer to be judged by their overall results, there's something to be said for performing on demand. The Olympics are the best example of this, coming once every four years and maybe twice or three times during an athlete's competitive career.
One rung down the ladder are World Championships, which take place every two years. One year out from the Games, they are considered one of the best measures as to how Canada currently stands, and what our chances are of placing first among nations in total medals in 2010.
In that respect, 2009 was Canada's best ever World Championship year, with 29 medals - six gold, ten silver and 13 bronze - won by Canadian athletes. That put Canada first among nations, with the usually dominant Germany and the U.S. tying with 28 medals each.