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Good cause, wrong name – Metro US

Good cause, wrong name

The intent of Own the Podium is to have Canadian athletes be competitive at the home Olympics. That’s why about $120 million has been invested over the past five years.

Mission accomplished.

As of the completion of Day 12, Canada boasted 11 medals — six gold — and another 18 fourth- or fifth-place finishes.

The results have come in almost all disciplines from figure skating to cross-country skiing, and all sports in between.

Where Own the Podium has gone awry is in the interpretation of its message. Strangely, the moniker for a strategy to support high-performance athletes from this country has taken on a jingoistic connotation.

The tone has been slightly aggressive and Own the Podium has become a buzz phrase that when poorly translated actually runs counter to the ideals of the Olympics.

One of the founders of the modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, envisioned a higher purpose for this international gathering.

“In the Olympics, as in life, the most important thing is not the victory,” de Coubertin wrote.
“The most important thing is the struggle … the taking part.”

The goal of the Own the Podium program is noble indeed.

It’s designed to support Canadian athletes who were notoriously undervalued by an affluent country that fancied itself full of youthful potential.

In other words, Canadians should excel in winter sports and contend for championships at an Olympics staged in this country.

It is right to be ambitious and competitive.

But to try to “own” something as elusive as the most medals at the Olympic Games can be characterized as being boastful and a challenge that, if not delivered upon, is seen as a failure.

Own the Podium is anything but a failure.

It is a plan whose translation to the Canadian public has been flawed.

Canadian athletes are achieving at an exceptional level.

They are competing on even terms with the best in the world.

The medals will come, and besides, no amount of money, science or coaching can assure success in the fickle arena of the Olympic Games where anything can happen.

Own the Podium is a good plan, but it’s the wrong name.

We should understand that Own the Podium is really about a consistent pursuit of excellence by all Canadian athletes.

Too bad something got lost in the translation.

– Gemini Award winner and author Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. A 20-year CBC Sports veteran, he has covered a variety of professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.

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