Sources: Gardiner to return to Athletics Canada as head coach

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TORONTO Alex Gardiner is returning to his roots.

The Winnipeg native who coached Canada at four world track and field championships has been rehired as head coach of Athletics Canada, several sources told The Canadian Press on Monday.

Gardiner will succeed Les Gramantik, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the year, and under the restructured program will lead the team heading into the 2012 London OIympics.

I think it will be good for A: to have some change, and B: to start the Olympic cycle off in the full capacity as head coach, instead of the Band-Aid solution we had, said Adam Kunkel, the Canadian record-holder in the 400-metre hurdles.

The Canadian team had its best finish in 12 years at last summers Beijing Olympics with Gramantik at the helm, with five top-eight finishes, eight top-12 finishes and 11 top-16 finishes.

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Whitby, Ont., captured the bronze medal in the womens 100-metre hurdles, Canadas first Olympic medal in track since 1996 when Donovan Bailey won gold in the 100 metres and anchored the mens 4x100 relay to victory.

But since Canadian team athletes have their own personal coaches, its difficult to gauge Gramantiks contribution in Canadas strong performance. Gramantik, a multi-events specialist, coaches Jessica Zelinka, who finished fifth at the Beijing Olympics, and is former coach of Canadian decathlon star Michael Smith.

Athletics Canada has scheduled a conference call for Tuesday to announce Gramantiks successor.

Gardiner has a long history with Athletics Canada. He was the national associations director of technical programs from 1992 to 94, then its chief executive officer from 1994 to 97.

His coaching resume includes the 1991, 93, 2001 and 2003 world track and field championships. He was appointed head coach of Athletics Canada in 2002 and led the team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Gardiner left Athletics Canada to take a job with the Canadian Olympic Committee, becoming the COCs director of international performance in May 2005.

He has a lot of experience within Athletics Canada in multiple roles, and also now working for four years with the COC, so he brings a lot more experience from that end as end as well, Kunkel said from his training base in Edmonton.

Gramantik, a Calgary native, coached the Canadian team at three world championships, the Pan American and Commonwealth Games. He will reportedly take another position that is partially under the Athletics Canada umbrella.

Organizations: Athletics Canada, Beijing Olympics, Canadian Press Canadian Olympic Committee Band-Aid Commonwealth Games

Geographic location: Canada, TORONTO, Winnipeg Whitby Edmonton Calgary

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