Government of Canada Announces Own the Podium Advisory Board

On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport), today announced the appointment of John Furlong as the new Chair of the Own the Podium (OTP) Advisory Board. “Our Government is pleased to announce John Furlong as the new Chair of the Own the Podium Advisory Board,” said Minister of State Lunn. “John has a proven track record of success, most notably the outstanding 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games that were recently held in Vancouver and Whistler. I am confident that with John at the helm, Own the Podium will continue to help provide our athletes with the support they need to compete against the best in the world.” “The greatest honor is being asked to serve in the name of sport, and I thank Prime Minister Harper and Minister of State Lunn for their confidence in me as the volunteer Chair of the Own the Podium Board of Directors,” said Mr. Furlong. “Sport is about teamwork, and the OTP Board of Directors team announced today is podium-worthy–all men and women with a deep commitment to Canada and to sport, and I relish the opportunity to work closely with them. Following the outstanding medal-winning performances at the 2010 Games and sports emerging with higher prominence in our country, Canadians are expecting our very best efforts to support our athletes as they prepare for the upcoming London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games and various international competitions. I want to ensure that Own the Podium stays fully focused on ensuring our athletes have everything they need and that we have maximized every available asset and avenue in the country to help them as they prepare to represent Canada as athletic ambassadors before the world.” “Canadians recognize that Own the Podium was an integral part of our team’s success in Vancouver,” said Jean R. Dupr√©, Canadian Olympic Committee CEO and Secretary General. “We now have a precious legacy to build upon in developing an even stronger high-performance sport system in Canada, and have great faith in the leadership of John Furlong.” “With the unprecedented interest and pride in Canada’s athletes and the significant investment now being made in sport by the Government of Canada, our next steps are crucial,” said Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. “The winter sport community was the first to benefit from the bold Own the Podium initiative and clearly understand how important Minister of State Lunn’s announcement is today. John Furlong was pivotal in making the Games in Vancouver the overwhelming success they were, and he was instrumental in creating the necessary support that made the Own the Podium project a reality. As such, having his lead as the program shifts to the next phase is very exciting for all of us in high-performance sport.” Mr. Furlong has had a long and distinguished career in sport. He is completing his tenure as the CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, leading an effort that was universally recognized as an event of which all Canadians could be proud. Other Advisory Board members announced today include 1976 Olympic speed skating medallist Cathy Priestner Allinger, veteran sports broadcaster Keith Pelley, sport medicine specialist Dr. Mike Wilkinson, Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette, National Research Council scientist Dr. Guy Larose, and Director of Sport Excellence at Sport Canada, Canadian Heritage, Lane MacAdam. Three additional members–representatives of the winter sport caucus, the summer sport caucus, and a joint representative of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee–will also be named to the Advisory Board at a later date. The OTP Advisory Board will provide the necessary independent expertise to guide funding recommendations, while also ensuring that public funds are managed in a transparent and accountable fashion. Own the Podium is a national sport technical initiative that was created in 2005 to help Canada become the number one nation (total medal count) at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and to place in the top three nations (gold medal count) at the 2010 Paralympic Games. The initiative also set a goal for Canadian athletes to have a top 12 placing at the London 2012 Olympic Games and to be in the top 8 nations at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Both of these initiatives reflect what Canadians want from Canada’s high-performance athletes and help advance the “excellence” goal of the Canadian Sport Policy. Own the Podium’s largest contributor of funding is the Government of Canada, with additional funding from the corporate community and the Canadian Olympic Committee through its Canadian Olympic Foundation. The Government of Canada is proud to have supported the Own the Podium initiative, which helped Canadian Paralympic athletes win 19 medals–including 10 gold–and Canadian Olympic athletes win 26 medals, including 14 gold, at the Vancouver Winter Games. In doing so, they established a record of most gold medals won by a single nation during a winter edition of the Olympic Games. In Budget 2010, the Government announced that it will increase its annual contribution in support of the Own the Podium initiative from $11 million to $22 million annually for winter sport excellence and from $36 million to $42 million annually for summer sport excellence. Funding from the Government of Canada is distributed directly to national sport organizations and Canadian sport centres. Funding is based on the recommendations of Own the Podium to support training and competition opportunities, coaches’ salaries, equipment, and sport science and medicine services for athletes with podium potential. The Government of Canada is the single largest contributor to sport in this country and supports participation and excellence from the playground to the podium. For more information on Own the Podium, visit Information: Vanessa Schneider Director of Communications Office of the Honourable Gary Lunn, P.C., M.P. Minister of State (Sport) 819-934-1122 [email protected] Media Relations Canadian Heritage 819-994-9101 1-866-569-6155 [email protected]