February 22, 2010
Quick question: How long has Canada had its Own the Podium program? Only five years. That makes it all the more disappointing to read from The Canadian Press that the country's top Olympic officials are breaking out their concession speech.
The head of the Canadian Olympic Committee told a media briefing Monday that Canada won't finish first in the medal count at the Vancouver Games.
Chris Rudge acknowledged it's unrealistic to catch the Americans.
Heading into Monday's competition, Canada is tied for fourth in the medal standings with nine. The Americans lead with 24.
Get the Canadian Olympic Committee and Rudge (pictured) a message polisher, stat. The stated objective of Own the Podium was to win the most medals at the 2010 Games, but it should not be a do-or-die, one-shot deal. The Canadian Press' lead – "Canada is raising the white flag on Own The Podium" – is a dead giveaway.
Actually, it has conceded it won't win the most medals at these Olympics, key difference. What about 2014? 2018? That's why it matters that the program is only five years old. You have to stick with it instead of backing off and not giving it more time.
One need look no farther than the country to the south that hosted the Olympics in Salt Lake City eight years ago. There is a direct tie between the U.S. hosting a successful Games and being atop the medal count (with 24) in Vancouver.
Randy Starkman of The Toronto Star noted they're playing fast and loose with the country's Olympic future:
The big shame in all of this is that a lot of the gains made will be lost when VANOC folds up its tent after the Games and the feds roll back their support to pre-home Olympic standards.
If you want to be successful in this game – or Games – you have to be in it for the long haul, not for a five-year ride. Developing an identity as a winner at a high-stakes event like the Olympics is a long-term investment.
No, Canada is not owning the podium. Not even close.
But imagine how much worse it will feel if when we give up trying the first time it didn't work out.
Put another way, don't pull the chute too soon. The past 10 days show that the country is advancing, just maybe not as fast as we were conditioned to expect.