February 26, 2008 (Ottawa, ON) — The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) applauds the Harper government’s decision to invest in the Road to Excellence summer sport program, as unveiled today in the 2008 federal budget. The budget provides funding of $24 million over the next two years ($8 million in 2008/09 and $16 million in 2009/10) and $24 million for each subsequent year ongoing to support the Road to Excellence program.
“This is excellent news for our summer sports and athletes and will certainly enhance our chances of seeing them on the podium for future summer Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Alex Baumann, executive director of the Road to Excellence program and double gold medallist in swimming. “This commitment to the Road to Excellence program allows us to move forward with many of our initiatives which include improving the quality of coaching and support services available to our athletes and increasing training and competitive opportunities.”
“Our Canadian athletes are striving to be among the world’s best, and these funds will definitely bolster their quest for excellence,” said Sylvie Bernier, Canada’s chef de mission for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and a gold medallist in diving at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The injection of ongoing funding into the Road to Excellence program helps pull the nation’s summer athletes more in line with government funding invested in their winter counterparts.
“This investment in the Road to Excellence program is the result of the sport community coming together in the pursuit of a common objective,” said COC President Michael Chambers. “It is a wonderful parallel to what our athletes will be able to achieve on the playing field with this extra funding.”
“Prime Minister Harper, Minister Flaherty and Secretary of State (Sport) Helena Guergis have shown tremendous leadership in recognizing the needs of summer sport,” said Chris Rudge, COC chief executive officer and secretary general. “This investment is what our athletes need to perform their best at upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, and become strong role models for our children and youth.”
The Road to Excellence program is a summer sport initiative designed to provide technical support for summer Olympic and Paralympic sports to help them achieve international podium success. The goal of the program is for Canada to place in the top 16 countries in the overall medal count in Beijing this summer, in the top 12 countries at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and in the top five for both the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee is a national, private, not-for-profit organization committed to sport excellence. It is responsible for all aspects of Canada’s involvement in the Olympic movement, including Canada’s participation in the Olympic and Pan American Games and a wide variety of programs that promote the Olympic Movement in Canada through cultural and educational means. For more information see the COC website www.olympic.ca.