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Own the Podium sets lofty goals for 2010

Additional $110 million in funding announced in quest to win 35 medals

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The good news is that Canada’s winter national sport organizations could have as much as $110 million in new money to spend on athletes, coaches, training, and technology between now and 2010.

The bad news is that the money won’t be spent equally among winter sports. Instead, the Canadian Olympic Committee will provide less funding to sports where Canada is not considered a medal contender for 2010, and more to sports where Canadians have a good chance of winning medals. Those decisions will be based on past results, the strength of the current athletes and the number of potential athletes in a sport.

"Own the Podium 2010 is the program that will make Canada the top sporting nation in the world in 2010," said Chris Rudge, the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee. "Canada has many talented athletes and coaches who need a strong program and additional support to reach the Olympic podium."

The Vancouver Organizing Committee has already contributed half of the $110 million Own The Podium has targeted. Sports organizations are waiting for the federal government to contribute the other half.

That money is on top of the money already spent on those sports and athletes by Sport Canada, which has a total budget of $120 million for summer and winter sports, as well as participation initiatives.

Only $16.5 million of that money goes towards winter national sports organizations (NSOs), although athletes may qualify to receive additional Sport Canada funding through the Athlete Assistance Program.

After weighing funding requests from the NSOs, Own The Podium is suggesting an increase of $10.1 million a year for five years, with the NSOs pooling their resources. An additional $11 million will go towards recruitment, plus another $10 million a year for the Top Secret—2010 program, which will develop sport science and technology for Games. The Top Secret funding will be split between human performance initiatives, such as training and conditioning technologies and technology initiatives such as new suits and equipment improvements.

The goal for 2010 is to lead all nations with 35 medals, or double what Canada achieved at the Winter Games in 2002.

In order to accomplish that, the Own the Podium task force was created to study the potential of spots. The task force determined that Canada could only increase its medal count in two ways: by increasing the number of potential medallists from 160 to 211 between now and 2010, and by simultaneously ensuring that those athletes reach their potential.

The success rate for Canadian athletes is 27 per cent, which means that about a quarter of our athletes who were favoured to win medals actually came through on the big day. The COC would like to increase that number to at least 50 per cent.

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