2010 Olympic legacy to be programs giving athletes support they need

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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VANCOUVER - The enduring legacy of the 2010 Games won't be financial or physical, but in the way sport is managed in Canada says Chris Rudge, the chief executive officer of Canada's Olympic Committee.
Rudge said support programs being put in place for athletes both on and off the field of play are altering the mindset of Canada's Olympic hopefuls and their staff.
''There will be a legacy of hope, a legacy of believing they can get to the top, that they no longer go to the Olympic Games believing that everybody else is better prepared,'' he said during a news conference Monday. ''If we come out of these Games with that legacy, we will have changed the leadership and management of sport in this country forever.''
On Tuesday, 95 athletes, their coaches and support staff will wrap up a four-day meeting that's part of the Olympic Excellence Series.
The program was launched before the 2006 Turin Games, both to help Canada's diverse athletes unite into a team but also prepare them mentally for a competition like no other.
''It was about inspiration, it was about awareness, it was about sharing expertise, it was about planning,'' said Nathalie Lambert, an Olympic gold medallist in short track speedskating and the chef de mission for the 2010 Olympic team, of this year's series.
''It was about making sure that each and every one of them use every single day, 284 to be exact before opening ceremonies, to bring them closer to their dream and to their goals.''
Part of the series also sees athletes running a similar media gamut to the one they'll see in 2010 - the COC estimates more than 1,500 interviews are taking place in one day alone.
Both Lambert and assistant chef de mission Steve Podborski said they wished they'd had a similar series in place when they competed.
Podborski, a downhill skiier who won bronze at the 1980 Olympics, said his time as an Olympian came before the COC had the revenue to run these types of programs.
''They had no resources. It was a passionate involvement in the Games, but it wasn't a professional one,'' he said. ''We move to current day, the COC is a world-class sport organization, the Olympic preparation team is going to ensure they have whatever they might need to succeed.''
Podborski said keeping team spirit alive as athletes disperse after the meetings is made easier thanks to social networking technologies.
But it's the face-time that matters more than Facebook, he said.
''It's really just saying, we're the guys and let's choose to be a team,'' he said.

Organizations: COC, Olympic Committee, Olympic Games Olympic Excellence Series

Geographic location: Canada, VANCOUVER

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