by Katie Turner
During the 16-day Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canadian athletes will feel the pressure of being on home-turf but according to one official, the athletes are more than ready.
Along with being a three-time Olympic rower, Roger Jackson is also the chief executive officer and director of winter sport for Own the Podium, an organization aimed at developing Canadian sport in both the Olympics and Paralympics.
Since its inception in 2005, Own the Podium’s main goal has been to finish No. 1 overall at the 2010 Winter Games and in the top three in the Paralympics.
“I’m often asked the question ‘How will we do at the games?’ and that of course is very difficult to pinpoint because
one of the excitements of the games simply is we just don’t know until the events are played and nor do we know how well the competitor countries will perform,” he explained.
Despite the element of surprise, Own the Podium has carefully been monitoring the performance of Canadian athletes and is projecting several medal contenders.
“Canada has at least 30 athletes or teams that are currently
very serious medal threats for the games and in addition there are another 30 athletes that are currently in fourth, fifth and sixth positions in world rankings that have a very reasonable shot at a medal,” said Jackson.
In 2009, Canada walked away with 29 medals at world championships, the most out of any country, with Germany and the United States following close behind with 27 medals
each, according to Jackson.
“We expect these three countries (Canada, Germany and the United States) will be battling it out throughout the games for the honour of who might lead in the overall medal totals.”
Jackson also explained these two competing countries will likely pull into the lead initially and it won’t be until the last four days of the Games that Canada steps up.
Because of the scheduling of events and where the Canadian strength lies, the events during the end of the Games will likely yield the most medals for the home team.
“We expect Germany and the United States to lead the medal total by quite a margin from day two to day 13 of the 16 days of the Games and indeed half-way through the games by day eight, it may well be that the United States and Germany are far ahead of Canada, possibly with up to 20 medals in their case and possibly around 10 medals in Canada’s position,” said Jackson.
“However, from day 13 to day 16, the last four days of the games, Canadian athletes could win 12 or more medals,
which is simply a matter of scheduling and where our strength happens to be.”
With the pressure from friends, family and the nation, the athletes may feel some added weight on their shoulders, especially
if Canada’s medal count is low during the beginning
stages of the games, said Jackson.
“The pressure is something that every world-class athlete has to face…but they have learned to have confidence in their skills and abilities and they have learned, as we often say, to create performance on demand.”