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Getting to the olympic podium: effects of funding on olympic athletes

The closing ceremony happened on February 24th and concluded with the Olympic torch being extinguished. It marked the end of the Sochi games and the beginning of the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics. Many watched the bittersweet night but for certain athletes these were the last Olympic games. Veterans in the Olympics waved goodbye and first time Olympians vowed to return and own the podium.

For the Anne Merklinger, CEO of Own The Podium, she already has her eyes set on the 2018 and 2022 games. This year, Canada did not reach the goal they had set. We finished the games with 25 medals, one short of 2010’s 26 medals. In Vancouver, Canada ended up with 14 gold medals whereas in Sochi, Canada ended up with only 10 gold medals. This placed Canada in 4th place in the overall medal standings. To put this in perspective this is the lowest position since 2002’s Salt Lake City Games. The goal of this year’s Own The Podium was to surpass Vancouver’s 26 medals count and this year we only reached 25 medals. Russia impressively managed to haul in 33 medals. Between now and the next Olympic games you can expect members of Own The Program and sport analysts to take a critical look at the existing programs in order to make appropriate changes to maximize the chances of the athletes to win a medal. Specific sports that fell short of expectations include snowboarding, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing.

It’s important to realize however that many countries are adopting similar programs and consequently the cost of these programs increase. The amount of time an athlete trains isn’t the only factor that determines the likelihood of them winning a medal. Having access to the best coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, and facilities increase are all important factors in determining the success of an athlete. These factors may not always be in the hands of the athletes. Being an Olympic is an extremely expensive path and many families aren’t able to pay for it themselves.

Critics have questioned Own The Podium’s focus on aiding those who show podium potential. What happens to the athletes who may have podium potential but require a couple years of training before they’re deemed worthy of the funding of the program? Some critics speculate that many athletes could’ve placed higher at the Olympics, except they didn’t due to lack of funding, they weren’t able to reach their full potential. Funding cuts have also scrutinized. For example, women’s ski jumping is a new event in the Olympics. The women’s ski jumping team however got a last minute cut the year before the Games and that could have detrimental effects to the athlete’s preparation. Due to the last minute funding the women’s ski jumping team had to cut two paid staff positions. The ski jumping team is one of the lowest funded sports by Own The Podium in dollar figures.

The 2014 Olympic games may have ended but there is plenty of work to do for the athletes and the CEO of Own The Podium. Best of luck in the journey!

Global also did an exclusive unfiltered interviews with Olympian Ashleigh McIvor and others about lack of funding for current Olympians and hopefuls. http://globalnews.ca/video/1086097/lack-of-funds-for-canadian-olympic-hopefuls

Photo credits: en.ria.ru/

About the contributor: Lea Leung is a student at York University pursuing her BA in French and Biology along with her Bachelor of Education. She’s interested in many things, such as science, music, and dance. She knows how to play several instruments such as, the piano, clarinet, trumpet, flute, drums, and the saxophone. Her past times includes volunteering, watching TV shows and reading.

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About leanutty (13 Articles)
Lea Leung is a student at Glendon, York University studying French and Biology and is an aspiring teacher. She loves music, science, dance and sports. She's taken many music lessons growing up including clarinet, trumpet, flute, drums, and the saxophone but her go to instrument will always be the piano. Her past times includes volunteering, watching TV shows, reading and playing with her dog Coco.

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