Own the Podium is a recipe for failure

Just read this article by W. BRETT WILSON, great article:

Own the Podium is a recipe for failure


Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Feb. 06 2014, 8:52 AM EST

A decade ago, various national sport organizations including the Canadian Olympic Committee met to develop a plan that would become known as “Own the Podium” – with the bold goal of helping Canada achieve medal dominance at future Olympic Games. In 2010, Canada earned a record-setting 14 gold medals against twenty-plus countries. This, according to the Own the Podium website, is objective proof that investing in performance equals results. In contrast, Canada’s performance in London was called “disappointing” by media because we “failed” to meet the medal targets.

I have struggled with Own the Podium since it was first introduced. Nobody wants our athletes to succeed more than I do. But I would caution that the single-minded pursuit of medals is a recipe for ultimate failure. Why? Because the goal is both artificial and superficial.

As a former competitive swimmer, I remember watching the great Victor Davis, one of Canada’s most passionate swimmers, compete at a very high level swim meet in the early 1980s. He finished a close second and was criticized at the time for pounding his fist angrily against the starting block because he’d come up short. Victor was known as a fierce competitor, driven by an internal goal that pushed him always to win. In my experience, great performances are born out of an athlete’s personal definition of success, not some artificial goal established by organizing committees. If we define success in narrow metrics – that is, winning a medal – we set our athletes, and our nation, up for failure.

In advance of the 2008 Beijing Games, I donated $50,000 toward the Canadian men’s Olympic swim team to fund their attendance at several pre-Olympic training camps. These camps helped turn a group of individual swimmers into a TEAM – for the express purpose of improving their performance in the various relay swims. Our teams finished in the top-five in every relay – with times that would have earned gold medals in the 2004 Olympics. One of the teams placed fourth while breaking the existing world record. While many were apparently disappointed in these results, I was not, given the depth of talent in Beijing.

How many casualties of sport have we created because someone believed coming in fourth is a fail? By my scorecard, these athletes deserve to be treated far better than “first loser.” Rather than pursuing medals as proof of success, why not encourage and pursue excellence at every level of sport? The pursuit of excellence puts the emphasis on the process: developing a skill or technique; exercising physical discipline; or growing mental focus and toughness. Achieving victories in those self-identified areas of growth allows for the regular celebration of both personal and team victories – growing confidence, and a healthy sense of self-esteem. On the other hand, an unrelenting focus on winning medals can be highly demoralizing, linking personal success to external objectives and factors that are often outside of an athlete’s control.

I genuinely believe that the message we give our young athletes with Own the Podium is fundamentally flawed. Medals should be an outcome of the pursuit excellence, not the entire goal. Ironically, encouraging excellence rather than an arbitrary number of medals may in fact lead to the kind of medal performance Own the Podium is focused on achieving. I understand that Norway, for example, a country with a population one-seventh the size of Canada’s and a cumulative Winter Olympic medal count more that double ours, has achieved medal dominance not by focusing on medals but by dwelling on building excellent individual athletes. By focusing first on excellence rather than medals, our athletes, and our amateur and professional sports teams, have a much stronger foundation on which to find personal victories and long-term strength. Now that’s a recipe for success.


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good bye hardware!

I had surgery today at RVH in Barrie to have my hardware removed from the accident. The plate saved my arm but it served it’s purpose and was causing me a lot of pain…not much room for it in the elbow.
The staff and doctors at RVH are amazing, I received excellent care. If you ever need a top surgeon then Dr. Vennettilli is the guy to get and Dr. Yee for an anesthesiologist and the nursing staff there are second to none…so caring.  I’m hoping to put this all behind me now as it’s been a challenging time the last year and a half.

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Would Terry Fox have run farther with today’s sleek prosthetic blades?



Check out the Toronto Star article about Terry Fox Here

I received an email last week from a very special person wanting to interview me for the Toronto Star. Her name is Leslie Scrivener and she wrote a book about Terry Fox called “His Story”. She is a legend when it comes to Terry and she even joined him for a piece of his tour to interview him. I was very honoured and excited to have her interview me for this article.

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Para Track and Field try it camp

On May 25 there will be a try-it camp for amputees or simular disabilities related to limb length including Dwarfism and wheel chair athletes looking to try out track and field. Come on out to Birchmont Stadium in Scarborough, Ontario as it will be a great opportunity to see if you like the sport.

Click on the link below for further information:

may 25th try-it amputee track and field



may 25th try-it wheelchair track and field

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Boston marathon: my thoughts


For those of you that know me you will know that my passion is running and so after what happened in Boston I am both sickened and broken hearted about the bombing. I feel for the victims and what really hurts the most for me is the 8 year old boy. As a father of two I can relate to how devastating this would be and it just hits too close to home.

half way mark at the 2009 Boston marathon (1:27) on pace for a sub 3hr.

half way mark at the 2009 Boston marathon (1:27) on pace for a sub 3hr.

It’s the spectators at the marathon- the friends, family and others that makes the marathon so special. After spending months of training and hours running the race and when you don’t think you have anything left, their energy is what helps to bring you in. They are the ones that helped to bring me into the finish line after hitting the wall at about the 40km mark when I ran the race in 2009. There were over half a million spectators along the course in Boston that day and they are what makes the race so special.

near the finish line after hitting the virtual wall at about 40km. Thanks to the spectators who helped bring me in! (3:01.50)

near the finish line after hitting the virtual wall at about 40km. Thanks to the spectators who helped bring me in! (3:01.50)

Some people ask me after running so many races, what is your most memoriable one? and it is Boston. It took every ounce of energy for me to cross that finish line and it was a huge personal achievement.

I watched the marathon on Monday and it brought back some really good memories for me. I was wishing that I was there running it with the many runner friends that I have. Later in the day I heard the devastating news and I am still in shock. I don’t believe this will stop that amazing spirit that runners have. Would I run Boston again?….absolutely!

Thanks to Mike Dodd from Simcoe.com for this excellent article ( well said): Don’t let terror stain Boston Marathon.

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Still recovering


I am continuing with my recovery from August 1st last year. I haven’t had the energy to post for a while. Although this new challenge has definitely tested my spirit, I remain positive and will never give up. I’m down but not out!!

Thanks to Roberta Bell from the Packet and Times for this article.

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Variety Village Track Meet

For those that are interested and in the Toronto, Ontario area on January 13th, an All Comers meet will be held at Variety Village. It is an integrated meet and as such, para-athletes are encouraged to attend. They are trying to attract more para athletes to the event. In addition, coaches Craig Blackman and Faye Blackwood will be making a presentation in the morning of the meet. (time not official but likely 8:30-10am). There will also be a classification team on site for any athletes who are interested in being classified that morning. If athletes are traveling from far away there may be travel subsidy opportunities. They are working to make sure seated and ambulatory shot out are offered.
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