To improve Canada’s performance at the Olympic Games, particularly to achieve its goal of being the top medal-winning country at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver/Whistler, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has set ambitious performance and medal targets for upcoming Games and is embarking on a bold new plan to achieve them.

The COC’s goal is to place among the top three nations at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin (25 medals), among the top 16 countries at the 2008 Games in Beijing (18 medals) and first at the 2010 Games in Vancouver/Whister (35 medals). These goals are part of the COC’s strategic plan, which was unanimously endorsed by the organization’s Board of Directors at its semi-annual meeting in Toronto this weekend. The COC Board includes representation from all of Canada’s summer, winter and Pan American sport federations as well as Olympic coaches and athletes.

“The COC believes that Canada’s athletes are among the best in the world but they need and deserve additional support to achieve international podium success,” said COC President Michael Chambers. “We want to give Canadians something to cheer about at upcoming Olympic Games, particularly our home Games in 2010. Our goal of improving Canada’s Olympic performance is achievable with the support and collaboration of our sport partners.”

These partners include athletes, coaches, national sport federations, Canadian Sport Centres, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Calgary Olympic Development Association and business and private supporters. The COC also recognizes the need to partner more effectively with all three levels of government to generate the additional funding required to properly fund high performance sport in Canada.

“It’s important for the COC to be the collective voice for the sport community in Canada to advocate for increased funding and support for Canada’s Olympic hopefuls,” said Olympian and COC Board member Diane Jones Konihowski. “It is a tremendous honour to compete for Canada at the Olympic Games and I believe this new plan, with the proper support and funding, will lead to more Canadian athletes reaching the Olympic podium.”

As part of its strategic plan, the COC is restructuring itself to focus more on engaging athletes and coaches in its activities, advocating for increased funding and changes to the current sport system, fundraising, international training and preparation programs for athletes, holistic athlete support programs and educational programs. Specific initiatives include:

Organizing high quality team preparation and training programs as part of the COC’s newly established “Excellence Series” to better prepare Olympic hopefuls, coaches and sports for upcoming Olympic Games

Conducting a pre-Games, on location training camp for athletes and coaches prior to the Olympic Games in Beijing

Engaging the COC’s newly restructured athlete advisory body, the Athletes Council, into all high performance planning initiatives

Building on a similar initiative with winter sports, to work collectively with Canada’s summer sports to set future performance targets and plans to achieve them, with the assistance of international sport experts

Expanding the COC’s athlete and community relations programs geared to increasing awareness of the Olympic movement in Canada, ultimately leading to increased funding for high performance sport

Creating a new Canadian Olympic Excellence Foundation to raise funds to support high performance sport