Canadian Olympic Committee Unveils New Athlete Excellence Fund

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) today unveiled its new Athlete Excellence Fund, an athlete support and reward program that will provide Canadian athletes with performance awards of up to $20,000 per Olympic medal. The announcement was made at a press conference in Ottawa during the second session of the COC’s Olympic Excellence Series for 2008 Olympic hopefuls.

“This is the first time in its history that the Canadian Olympic Committee is providing performance awards to athletes who win Olympic medals,” said COC president Michael Chambers. “We’ve taken the concept of excellence funding one step further, and are excited as this program demonstrates our commitment to athlete performance and rewarding excellence.”

“The COC Athletes’ Council is delighted to see the Athlete Excellence Fund come to fruition,” said former two-time Olympian and current Athletes’ Council chair, Iain Brambell. “As Olympic athletes are being asked to meet or better the medal targets at each Games, the Athletes’ Council felt strongly about rewarding these athletes that achieve at the highest level. The decision by the council to revamp this program has been incredibly well received and supported by the COC.”

“Training for the Olympic Games can be a huge financial burden for athletes and their families,” said Adam van Koeverden, two-Olympic medallist in sprint kayak. “Through this fund, the COC is recognizing that burden, and what an incredible asset more Olympic medals will be for our communities and for Canada.”

The Athlete Excellence Fund will follow a four-year cycle that will reward Canadian athletes for excellence. For the first three non-Olympic years of the cycle, athletes who place in the top five in years one or two, or top four in year three, will each receive $5,000. Meanwhile, Olympic medals in year four will garner athletes $20,000, $15,000 or $10,000 for gold, silver or bronze, respectively. Athletes will receive the award for every medal they win at the Olympic Games, meaning multiple awards for multiple medal winners.

The performance awards apply to all Olympic sports, and will be the same whether the athlete is from a team sport or an individual sport. For a medal-winning team sport, each member of the team will receive the performance award.

In the three years preceding the Olympic Games or Olympic Winter Games, the results to be used to determine eligibility for the funding will be the single best performance at the highest level event of the year (normally a World Championships) as pre-determined by the COC and the appropriate National Sport Federation (NSF).

Canadian athletes competing in Beijing in 2008 will be the first eligible to receive the Athlete Excellence Fund awards for winning Olympic medals. The 2008 Olympic Games, scheduled from August 8-24, will feature a total of 28 sport disciplines, 302 events, more than 200 participating countries, and an estimated 10,700 athletes.

The goal for the Canadian team, as set by the COC, the Road to Excellence program and the summer National Sport Federations, is for Canada to finish amongst the top 16 nations in the overall medal count.