Canada’s Sport Institutes are getting an injection of funding and a name change, as part of a new partnership aimed at streamlining the country’s high-performance sport efforts.

The background:

The Canadian Sport Institute Network consists of seven satellite organizations from the Pacific to Atlantic. Each location offers services for elite athletes including; training equipment, nutritional and therapeutic support, access to funding, and other resources.

Here’s where they are: Pacific, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic.

Kaillie Humphries

Two-time Olympic bobsleigh champion Kaillie Humphries trains at Winsport, a partner and facility for Canadian Sport Institute Calgary

Today’s announcement:

With $3 million funneled through the Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF) the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is, along with the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), hoping to bolster the nation’s medal-winning aspirations. The CPC will also kick in some money. The cash will go towards new equipment and staff plus strengthening existing programs.

The three organizations (COC, COF, CPC) along with all Sports Institutes will now work in concert with the sevens satellites now part of the “Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network.”

It sounds complicated but it’s not. According to representatives of each group it’s going to be everyone in a room working together. The COC is making it clear combined efforts and idea sharing is also part of the plan. 

Why it matters:

The multi-partner effort set to last from 2014 to 2016 is a step towards what could be defined as a collaborative sport-institute model. For example, the Australian Institute of Sport is a famous version of all high-performance stakeholders working together with great success. While not an exact copy, the parallels are there. However, comparing Canada’s sport institute to Australia’s is for explanatory reasons only. The two nation’s differ greatly when it comes to what we’re good at plus the overall focus of financial resources. 

Yet the philosophy is similar and according to the COC, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network is one of the most efficient ways to produce talent. And the athletes are thrilled to have more resources.

“This is tremendous news for high-preforming amateur athletes across Canada. Before an athlete can win a medal, before they can qualify for international competition, before all of that, they have to log thousands of training hours. Being able to train with the best athletes in the country at the best facilities will give our national teams a distinct advantage for future competitions.” – Christine Girard, 2012 Olympic Bronze Medallist, weightlifting

The plain truth:

An athlete from any country requires a lot of resource to even have a chance of stepping on the Olympic podium. The investment from childhood to excellence is hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. This may be shouldered by caregivers in the early years and when an athlete transitions to a national team situation access to world-class facilities and coaching is critical to success. The idea of a sport network is to provide these tools in a way that fosters innovation and of course, high performance. Today’s announcement is a move in that direction and expected to create improvements in athlete access to resources.

“An Olympic or Paralympic champion can be developed in every corner of this country if they have easy access to the proper tools and resources to support their pursuit of excellence. This investment and alignment builds on the solid foundation of funds established by the Government of Canada that will play another key role in helping to support more podium potential athletes from coast-to-coast-to-coast.” – Anne Merklinger, CEO, Own the Podium