Team Canada's confidence high for London 2012
Public support, Vancouver legacy, team unity are factors
By ALISON KORN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - So, it's now been over a year since the Vancouver 2010 Olympics finished. With all kinds of medal anniversaries being celebrated over the past couple of weeks, the reminiscing is just about over and it's on to London 2012.
The experience of hosting a successful Olympics leaves a legacy of a more confident, proud Canadian team that knows how to win, said John Furlong, the former Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee CEO.
Marcel Aubut, the Canadian Olympic Committee president who began his term after the Games, agreed.
"Team Canada is going to be a different team (going forward), who see winning as something acceptable, correct and something they feel they could achieve," Aubut said. "I think that's going to be a big difference with the kind of team going to London, Sochi and Rio."
He's referring to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Furlong also reflected on the public's enthusiastic embrace of the Games-- something he had envisioned but didn't dare presume.
"The public leapt over the boards and became active participants and observers in the Vancouver Games," Furlong said. "What Vancouver proved to me was that the Canadian public was ready to come together in Vancouver to live the experience with us. And the euphoria that took place on the streets and the appreciation the country showed for the athletes and the Games...we hoped for."
Following the Vancouver Olympics, the COC surveyed the Canadian Olympic team and identified three factors in them it so well. First, the support from Canadians "unequivocally" made a difference to performance, said Caroline Assalian, the COC's executive managing director, sport and NSF relations.
"The message is the whole country cares what you're doing, day in, day out," said Assalian. "Second was their familiarity with the environment, with Vancouver the site. So although we may not duplicate this in London, this is certainly our emphasis going forward; athletes and teams have a very good comfort and familiarity with London."
Assalian said that surprisingly, athletes have not competed in the city of London as much as one might expect.
The third value that had a great effect on performance was team unity, feeling part of the Canadian Olympic team.
"It was a little bit of a surprise on how much it had an impact on performance and we'll look at that moving forward to London," said Assalian.
The Toronto Sports Council Summit on March 5 at the Hyatt Regency will officially launch the 2012 Ontario Summer Games in Toronto.
Sports industry types will include special guest Allen Vansen, senior vice-president, operations, Pan Am/Parapan American Games Toronto 2015. The registration fee of $25 will go towards the 2012 Ontario Summer Games.
The Toronto Sports Council is a non-profit organization that strives to assist and support the growth of sport and is recognized by Toronto City Council as the "Voice for Sport" in Toronto.