… or is that podia? About a week ago the COC announced the leader of their new summer sport excellence program. The program, modelled after the winter sport "Own the Podum — 2010" initiative, is intended to help Canada's athletes achieve more podium successes at upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games. Actually, I shouldn't have called it the COC's program, because it's really organized as a collaborative effort between the NSFs and the "funding partners."
The chosen leader is Dr. Roger Jackson, an Olympic gold medallist in rowing (1964). Dr. Jackson is as well-connected as anybody in the sport community, having been a former director of Sport Canada, three-time president of the COC, and current chairman of the CCES. Pretty impressive credentials, to be sure. This is a man who has spent a lifetime at the highest levels of Canada's sport administration system.
I don't know Dr. Jackson at all, but I am a bit surprised that the steering committee has chosen somebody with such a long history as an insider. Also, dare I mention that Dr. Jackson is 63 years old? For a group that is talking about making radical changes to the way sport is funded in Canada, it's a bit of an odd choice, isn't it? But, as I said, I don't know him. Maybe he is just the kind of mover and shaker that the summer sports need. The press release notes that he has "consulted extensively" on high performance sport in the UK, and the British have certainly experienced a significant performance improvement over the past 8 years. Great Britain won 15 medals (1 gold) in 1996, and improved to 30 medals (9 gold) in 2004. Of course, the improvement also coincided with a whopping increase in funding.
I guess the first order of business is to choose a catchy name to describe the program, and to set some performance goals that generate public interest. Those are two things that the winter group has done well, even if I think that the goals are rather unrealistic.