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With Wednesday’s $ 2.6 million funding announcement for athletes qualifying for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, Canada has issued a challenge to the rest of the competing countries, Toronto Games CEO Ian Troop said.
“In my mind, Canada has served notice that we will bring our ‘A’ game to the 2015 Games and it’s to stand on the podium in July 2015. Other countries will have to step up and bring their top athletes as well,” Troop said Wednesday during a news conference at Varsity Centre where the Canadian Olympic Committee funding announcement was made.
“History shows that the Pan Am Games are a great indicator of future Olympic success. The Toronto 2015 Games are an important stop for all athletes from all countries on the road to Rio for Olympic glory. In fact, we’re working with the international sports federations to make sure our sporting events will be Olympic qualifiers for Rio.”
The funding given to every individual sporting federation will be used to ensure every qualifying athlete will be able to compete and attend every competition without worrying about whether they can afford to attend the necessary events they need to be at to make the Canadian team.
Canada plans to send more than 1,000 athletes to the July 10-26 Toronto Games, more than double the number who competed in Guadalajar in 2011. Troop said the success of the Games will be measured by the performance of Canada’s athletes.
“The support of the COC and the advantage of competing on home soil in front of friends and family and a home-town crowd bodes very well indeed for Team Canada in 2015,” Troop said. “The (funding) will pave the way for great success for Canada in 2015.
“That’s why the funding from the COC is so important. For Canadian athletes to reach the podium, and own the podium we need not only to build venues but we need to support their development and their ability to compete at top international levels,” Troop said. “We saw how the winter athletes could succeed at home with the advantage in Vancouver two years ago. Now we have the chance to do the same thing for our summer heroes in July 2015.”
Jason Burnett, an Olympic silver medalist in the trampoline, said the funding will allow athletes to concentrate on their performance instead of worrying whether they can afford to travel to a competition.
“Just because I’m an Olympic silver medalist it doesn’t mean that I’m going to get a big chunk of cash but our federation will then use it to help every athlete,” said Burnett, one of several members of Team Canada attending Wednesday event.
“Trust me there is no better feeling in the world than to be able to stand atop a podium and represent your country, winning a gold medals and setting world records . . . This funding allows us to focus more at the task at hand.”
In 2010, Burnett broke his leg doing stunt work trying to earn some income to supplement the monthly salary he received as a top tier trampoline athlete. The extra cash always helped defray costs associated with travelling to events and competitions. In some sports, athletes haven’t been able to attend every qualifying event because of their cash flow problems associated with full-time training.
“Nobody will be excluded. Canada will have the best team marching behind the Maple Leaf at the Toronto opening ceremonies, “ COC president Marcel Abut said. “Imagine having more than 1,000 athletes. Just imagine the size of this team.”
Abut said the funding shows the CIC is “serious and committed” to do whatever is necessary to help make the Toronto Games an overwhelming success at the podium.