Brains behind Own the Podium scheme leaves his post
THE brains behind the multi-million dollar Own the Podium initiative that helped Canada to their most successful Winter Olympics in history at Vancouver 2010 has stepped down.
PAST GLORIES: Canada achieved their most successful Winter Olympic medals haul in Vancouver but the brains behind their Own the Podium scheme has left his post (Getty Images)
Roger Jackson will end his five-year tenure as chief executive of Own the Podium on Thursday with Alex Baumann, a Canadian Olympic swimming gold medallist at Los Angeles 1984, taking interim charge.
"It certainly has been a privilege, and an exciting challenge to have had the opportunity to build OTP, and to work with the sport community and our government and corporate partners on such an important national project," said Jackson.
"I now have the opportunity to move on to new interests and ventures. I do so with sadness at leaving such wonderful and talented colleagues who I recruited as we built this team. I am confident they will carry on, and take this program to the next level."
Own the Podium, a $117m programme designed at ensuring Canada collected more medals than anyone else at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, came in for considerable criticism during the Games, despite ensuring the hosts collected 26 medals.
The program, funded by the federal government and the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee, saw Canada collect 14 gold medals but prompted some to suggest their exploitation of home advantage was a step too far.
At the Whistler Sliding Centre, having enjoyed the benefit of approximately ten times more practice runs than the rest of their rivals, Canada collected gold in the men's skeleton and women's bobsleigh.
There can be no doubting the success of Own the Podium, although Canada did not top the medals table with the USA collecting nine golds but 37 in total.
But concerns are rife the funding will be considerably reduced now that Vancouver 2010 has been consigned to history, while the recent federal budget has pledged just $17m a year for the next two years for Own the Podium.
That comes a sizeable reduction from the $23.4m a year afforded to winter sports in the run-up to Vancouver 2010.
But Chris Rudge, the outgoing chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said support for Canada's athletes, coaches and national sport Federations has never been stronger.
"The development of sport science and research is providing tools for success that will build the foundation for future Olympians," said Rudge.
"Roger had the perseverance and vision to stick to his guns through the development of this program and the sport community owes him a big thank you."