Converting cash to gold

NADIA MOHARIB -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

Some amateur sports advocates vow an infusion of federal funds will pave the way for success at the 2010 Olympics and beyond.

The federal government boosted amateur-sports dollars in yesterday's federal budget -- to avoid a repeat of woeful results at last year's Olympics -- hiking Sport Canada's annual funding to a total of $140 million.

The announcement, which coincides with Canada's preparation to host the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, is good news to those working in amateur sports here.

Alpine Canada president Ken Read said the money will go a long way to securing an enviable medal count for Canada.

He said he hopes to see ongoing annual investments into amateur sports.

"We are very pleased," Read said yesterday. "We will hold ourselves accountable to deliver 35-plus medals in 2010."

"This is not just for 2010 ... this is to build a sustainable sport system that continues to do this year in and year out."

Calgary's Jeff Christie, a luge athlete and Olympic hopeful, said the extra money will buy success with current athletes and motivation among future contenders.

"It could be a turning point," said the national luge team member. "If we get the expected results in 2010, it will motivate a whole new generation to pick up sport for the future -- there's the payoff."

Tim Farstad, executive director for the Canadian Luge Association, said the sporting world needs the funds to put this country's athletes on a level playing field.

"Most countries put more funds into it than Canada but we expect the same type of results," Farstad said, adding he believes it will ultimately give athletes a better shot at medals.

"If it doesn't change things I'd be really surprised ... within our sport it will put everyone in the right direction."


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