Furlong named head of Own the Podium board 


John Furlong, head of the organizing committee for the 2010 Olympic Games, will be keeping his hand in the world of sports.

Furlong will lead a new volunteer advisory board to Own the Podium, the organization created in 2005 and funded primarily by the federal government to give Canadian athletes the edge over the competition and ultimately boost the country's medal count.

The move to appoint Furlong was hailed by Own the Podium chief executive officer Alex Baumann as a win for sports and athletes.

"John Furlong is seen in Canada, and around the world, as the face of Vancouver 2010, and his name has become synonymous with all of the successes surrounding the Bid and those Games," said Baumann. "Those successes did not come without numerous challenges which were overcome due in large part to John's perseverance, leadership and passion for sport and all athletes. His position as chair of Own the Podium's Advisory Board will ensure Canada's dedication to excellence in sport will continue well into the future."

Furlong will lead the board which includes: 1976 Olympic speed-skating medalist Cathy Priestner Allinger, sports broadcaster Keith Pelley and Canadian astronaut Julie Payette.

In the five years before the 2010 Games, Own the Podium spent $117 million.

Though the program was widely criticized in the early days of the Games when Canadian medals were few and far between, in the end it was hailed as a success as evidenced by the 14 gold medals, more than any other country in the history of the Winter Olympics.

The federal government added $11 million to Own the Podium funding this year following the Winter Olympics, bringing the total annual commitment to $69 million. That includes a base level of funding of $22 million per year for winter sports. For summer sports, the federal government has committed $36 million annually, which will be invested in athletes preparing for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

The remaining $11 million will go towards creating programs to further develop winter and summer athletes, along with targeted investments into Canadian Sport Centres.



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