Gardiner back with Athletics Canada

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Alex Gardiner is back in the running. And jumping. And hurdling. And throwing.

Athletics Canada will announce today that the Winnipeg resident will be returning to the head coaching position he left following the Athens Games in 2004.

Gardiner, who is renowned for his technical expertise and most recently served as the Canadian Olympic Committee's director of high performance, replaces current coach Les Gramantik whose contract is set to expire at the end of the year.

When reached by Sun Media yesterday, Gardiner didn't comment on the pending announcement, but the lifelong coach did not deny he would be taking over the position he previously held from 2002 to 2005.

Gardiner said he would be willing to discuss the shakeup at Athletics Canada today. The sport's governing body has scheduled a conference call to announce the move.

It is expected that Calgary's Gramantik will remain with Athletics Canada in some capacity, a good move given his role in helping rebuild a program that had been on hard times for the better part of two decades.

STRONG SHOWING

Under the at-times colourful Gramantik, the Canadian team had its strongest Olympic showing in several years this past summer in Beijing. Whitby's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep's bronze medal in the women's 100-metre hurdles was Canada's first trip to the podium in track and field since 1996, the heyday of the sport for this country.

As well, five Canadian athletes had top-eight finishes and eight were in the top 12 in their respective events.

Gramantik also is the personal coach of one of Athletics Canada's most promising young athletes, heptathlete Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont.

Meanwhile, in his COC position, Gardiner was one of the key experts in implementing new goals and technical information as the organization becomes more ambitious in its pursuit of excellence.


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