I am in Ottawa for the week, training with my close friend and team mate Mel. I left Wednesday night for AthletesCAN's Forum which was hosted near Ottawa in Gatineau. On thursday morning, we did the fourth annual KidsCAN School Day, which was a lot of fun.
Forty·Athletes from a number of different sports descended on Gatineau Centre Sport to do demonstrations and share stories to kids from across the community. The men's volleyball national team also trains at this centre.·I had a great time as I got to play badminton and try some other sports. Always a rewarding experience. Minister for Sport Gary Lunn was there and I had a brief chat with him. He is a hard guy to catch up with and given the short period of time, it wasn't easy to communicate the large flaws in the current program. He assured me his assitance would contact me to set something up. I'm hopeful that happens.
The Forum was held from Thursday through Sunday, and we were literally in sessions and meetings·non-stop. The main topic that arose surrounded funding, to no surprise. Particularly this is a discussion of the Own The Podium and Sport Canada's carding policy. Both parties, tightly aligned, are increasinly focusing on a smaller number of sports. This has produced recent results, like Vancouver demonstrated, butthe big concern is that if this continues, increasing pressure on a limited number of NSOs will inevitable result in a long term diminshing of overall performance. The concept of targeted funding is a good one, but it has been so perversely applied that smaller and medium size NSOs are struggling. There are diminishing returns for each dollar spent on a sport - Hockey Canada can only win two golds, Speed Skating can win a certain number of medals etc. Anyway, without boring you, or getting too deep into the discussion, I can tell you I directly questioned Sport Canada's Director of Sport Excellence and was well·supported by my colleagues. Further to this, the document that Erik Petursson and I, via ACAN, have been working on to challenge Sport Canada recieved wide support. And, we were lucky to get Deidre Dion from Freestyle Skiing, representing the Canadian Olympic Committee's Athlete Council part of the discussion. She was on side, and will present to the other athletes on her board. This is great news as it will give the argument more strength. One really positive note is that a shift is taking place in that "have-not" sports are not alone addressing these funding gaps, and the "have" sports are voicing discontent with the fudning structure despite the fact that in many cases, they are the ones benefiting from it. Anyway that is enough on that subject. Big uphill battle, but I'm proud to be part of it because I know what is right. And, what is currently in place is simply not.
Training is going really well. I had a lesson with a new coach tonight. He's Iranian and it was a little different. I appreciated the perspective. That's it for now. Have a great week and I'll keep you posted.