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Canada's Own the Podium program vindicated by Olympics: Dick Pound

WINNIPEG - Canada's Own The Podium program might have come under fire at points during the Vancouver Olympics. But Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said the program worked and the blueprint should be used for future Games.

WINNIPEG - Canada's Own The Podium program might have come under fire at points during the Vancouver Olympics. But Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said the program worked and the blueprint should be used for future Games.

Own The Podium forced Canada to be more ruthless when it handed out Olympic training funding, he said.

"It allows you to say, 'you know your program is really good and we'll fund you to the hilt, but your program sucks. We're not going to give you anything because you haven't merited it,"' Pound said following a speech in Winnipeg on Thursday.

"Those are the kind of things Canada has been loath to do in the past. We've tried to be too nice to everybody."

Own The Podium pumped millions worth of corporate and federal dollars into training Canadian athletes, focusing on those who had the best chance of winning. Through the program, Olympic officials boldly predicted Team Canada would dominate the Games, winning the most medals.

Some winter athletes - like speedskater Denny Morrison - blamed the program for limiting their training, while others - gold medallist ice dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue - said they couldn't have won without it.

While Canada didn't end up collecting the most overall medals, it did win the most golds which muted the criticism, Pound said.

The program also got a vote of confidence in the most recent federal budget, earning an extra $17 million a year for the next two years. That's on top of the $47 million the government already spends each year to fund elite summer and winter athletes.

Those athletes who did their best don't have anything to apologize for, Pound added.

"That's the thing about the Olympics," Pound said. "Somebody else got everything right that day and you maybe got something wrong. That's what happens in competition ... You're apologizing for losing three-one-hundredths of a second somewhere. It certainly is not a reflection on the program."

Athletes who were funded through the program weren't put under any undue pressure by increased expectations, Pound added. Those who put themselves in the Olympic pressure cooker are there because they want to be, he said.

"Athletes seek this pressure out. Nobody is there with a gun at their back," said the former Olympic swimmer.

"They want to go out and be the best in the world. I'll do everything I can to do that and if somebody is going to help me with equipment, training and physio and all those things, that's wonderful. But I'm the one who put myself in this pressure-generating situation. I sought it out."