Is Canadian soccer affected?
COC doles out $6.8 million to amateur sport
WebPosted Wed Jun 19 18:48:08 2002
CBC SPORTS ONLINE - Canadian sport federations, athletes and coaches received a long-awaited cash infusion from the Canadian Olympic Committee to the tune of $6.8 million.
Catriona Le May Doan is a big reason why Speed Skating Canada recieved more money than any other Canadian sport federation. (CP Photo)
Mark Lowry, COC executive director of sport and programs, outlined a somewhat controversial change in direction for the organization at a media conference on Wednesday.
It is now placing a premium on achieving strong international results, a marked departure from its usual strategy of equitably spreading around funding.
The COC, formerly known as the COA, will give $5.25 million to 45 sport federations whose athletes compete in Olympic events, but the money will go disproportionately toward federations whose athletes have finished in the top eight at the Olympics or Pan Am Games.
A further $920,000 is targeted at athletes and $660,000 will finance a support program for coaches.
The dollar figures themselves were somewhat overshadowed by the message sent by the COC: that success will be rewarded and sports that are simply muddling through or trying to establish themselves in Canada will not be coddled by the organization.
The High Performance Support Program has found a good deal of corporate backing, but to get a piece of the pie, federations will have to produce Olympic medals or top-eight results.
A personal best may be good for warm and fuzzy feelings, but no longer seems to cut it with the COC's new funding philosophy.
"When an athlete performs, when a federation sends teams that win, we'll reward them," said Jim Thompson, the COC's chief executive officer.
"Formally, all 51 members of the Canadian Olympic Committee would receive general funds," Thompson said. "That still happens, but to a smaller level.
"Now, the majority of those funds are being directed to excellence and come 2005 and the next quadrennial, we will be putting even more into the top finishers."
An announcement formalizing the changes had been expected since the COC voted on changes to the funding system in April at its annual congress.
Unsurprisingly, given the success of Canadian speed skaters, both long track and short track, at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Speed Skating Canada came away with the most money, with a funding boost of more than $600,000.
"For speed skating now, maybe we can do those training camps that we need to do," said two-time Olympic 500m speed-skating champion Catriona Le May Doan.
"We can go to all the World Cups, have a massage therapist travel with us. I think this is really important."
Buoyed by the gold-medal success of its men's and women's teams in Salt Lake, the Canadian Hockey Association was the next-biggest winner with an award of nearly $400,000.
Among summer sports, Swim Canada got the most -- more than $310,000 -- and Rowing Canada received just over $200,000.
"Already, that money has allowed some of our athletes to compete in Europe this summer that otherwise would not have," said Al Morrow, head coach of the women's rowing team.
The COC is also trying to convince Sport Canada, the federal agency that contributes $22 million a year toward amateur sports, will adopt the same approach, even if it has its critics, who argue that it will only make life more difficult for the have-not sports, while already successful sports reap greater rewards.
"We're going to push this direction as hard as we can," said Lowry, who oversees the High Performance Support Program.
"We're going to do everything we can to convince the government that excellence is an extremely important element of what they should be funding."
The next round of funding under the program will be doled out after the 2003 Pan American Games, and again following the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
"Now it's my job, or the COC's responsibility, to find more sponsors so that we can reward the excellence of our athletes when they compete internationally," Thompson added.