August 5, 1996
By TERRY JONES
ATLANTA - In the bullpen of the main press centre, where more than a thousand journalists write their reports, work stopped Saturday night.
It was the 4x100-metre relay. And when the Canadians beat the Americans, the entire world cheered for Canada. In microcosm. Right there. In front of you. Beside you. Behind you.
They were from England. From Australia. Japan. Russia. Germany. Greece. Sweden. China. Cuba. Even America.
Canada should cheer itself like that today.
You've just watched Canada's greatest non-boycotted Olympic Games ever.
Team Canada was terrific.
Forty-six different Canadians go home wearing at least one medal around their neck.
They were wonderful.
So were a lot of them who didn't win a medal. Canada had 54 top-eight (Olympic Honor Diploma) results and 6% of our athletes achieved top-16 placings. That's only 39% passengers. And that may be an all-time Canadian Olympic record.
Eleventh place overall. Five medals behind Korea. Three back of Cuba. Two back of the Ukraine. Two up on Romania.
Of course, we're 19th in the standings which go by gold and settle ties with silver.
Medal a day ... and then some
But when one of the golds is the 100 metres and another the first upset of the U.S. in the 4x100 final in the history of the Olympics, right here on U.S. soil following the jingoism we endured here ... You'll take those two in particular in trade for all seven Canada won in Barcelona where we grabbed 18 medals.
Canada should be a medal-a-day country and we were better than that here.
We had the ninth-largest team at the Olympics and went into yesterday ninth in the standings. In Barcelona, we ranked 15th. Canada earned medals in 10 different sports, breaking the Barcelona record of nine.
There should be euphoria from coast to coast. And there should be concern.
Was this as good as it will ever get? Is it all downhill from here? With reduced government funding, will we go back to where we were before the Montreal Olympics?
Forget funding for a second. What about retirements?
Eight athletes won medals for the second Olympics in a row, three for the third Olympics in a row. And they're not going to be back. Harnett. Laumann. Thompson. Heddle. McBean. Monroe. Porter. Frechette.
But dollars will be the debate now.
Spend the money and you can run the flag up the pole even more than we did here.
The perfect example is Australia. We're the same size in terms of population and expanse.
The Australians stole our model, refined it, hot-housed their athletes and finished fifth at these Olympics with nine gold, nine silver and 22 bronze. Forty medals.
Good on ya, mates.
"The Australians have had a major push,'' said Carol Anne Letheren, chief executive officer of the COA and a Canadian IOC member.
She said their push towards Sydney success is infectious in terms of both morale and financing.
"That's the kind of push Canada needs,'' she said.
Letheren has heard the different voices from the different sports making their doom-and-gloom predications for the future of Canada in the Olympics with the goverment tap turned off.
She says it doesn't have to happen. In fact, she's predicting it won't happen.
The COA will meet the challenge.
For the next quadrenial, she says, the COA will pour $16 million into the national sport associations, up from $12 million. In addition another $4 million will go toward hot-housing of athletes in Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal. And another $4 million will go into direct funding.
"That's roughly going from $12 million to $24 million.''
Marketing, she says, is going to make up the difference.
What's the problem?
"We have to tap the corperate sector more. With the government funding decreasing, we have to fill some of that backfall.''
I'm sorry. This shouldn't be about Canadian corporations. This should be about the Canadian people.
I believe the Canadian people want what happened here to keep happening. I believe we like being good in Games. I believe we're willing to pay for it. So what's the problem?