The Newsletter of Athletes CAN
Vol. 9, No. 4 – Autumn 2003
COC relaxes Top-12 Olympic standard For Winter Sports
In the spring of 2002 the Canadian Olympic Committee unveiled its master plan to raise
the bar for high performance sport in Canada with the goal of placing 8th overall at the
2008 Summer Olympics and first overall at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Driving the plan
was the belief that Canada had to concentrate its limited resources for amateur sport on
teams and athletes with the greatest potential to win more medals at the Games.
The COC carried out an extensive review of all Olympic and Pan Am sports to set
performance standards for a new Excellence Fund aimed at funding our top-performing
teams and athletes.
At the same time, it embarked on a controversial overhaul of the Olympic qualification
standards, replacing the top-16 standard that had been in place for 25 years, with a tough,
new, top-12 requirement intended for both summer and winter sports.
While summer sports signed agreements with the COC accepting the top-12 standard,
most winter sports pressed for an alternative that would allow as many Canadian athletes
as possible to gain experience at the 2006 Turin Olympics as preparation for a best-ever
showing at the 2010 Games in Vancouver-Whistler.
In late November, the COC board agreed to relax the top-12 requirement just for the
winter sports, replacing it with the much less stringent international sport federation
standards for the 2006 and 2010 Games. Despite the change, however, sports may opt to
go with tougher criteria than the IF standard.
"The main reason, the driver behind this is the fact that Canada is hosting the 2010
Winter Games," says Karen Purdy, chair of the COC Athletes' Council.
Most Canadian team sports are unaffected by the change since virtually all team
competitions at the Olympics are limited to 12 teams or less, eliminating the need for any
standard other than what is set by the international federation.
But it's a different matter for most other NSFs. Winter sports now have a much greater
opportunity to qualify athletes for the Olympics. Summer sports, however, appear to be
locked into the top-12 standard, at least for the 2004 Games in Athens.
Some sports, like rowing and swimming, strongly endorse a top-12 or even tougher
approach to Olympic qualification.
Swimmer Rhiannon Leier looks positively on the top-12 standard as a way to encourage
"It will guarantee that members of our team will be able to compete at a higher level with
the rest of the world," says Leier. "Our swimmers will have to swim very fast and this is
what our sport needs, a higher level of excellence and performance."
Among those on the other side of the issue are former sprinter Candice Jones, now the
athlete representative for Athletics Canada and Kara Grant, who competes in modern
"It is very discouraging when our country does not support us, not only financially, but in
the essential belief in our ability to succeed," says Grant, currently ranked in the top 20 in
the world and aiming to qualify for the Athens Olympics. "This top-12 standard is like a
slap in the face to many hard working athletes."
Grant says she fully expects to qualify for the Games and place in the top ten, but worries
about the possibility of missing the top-12 requirement set by the COC while still
qualifying by international standards.
"If I'm denied the opportunity to compete and better myself in Athens, how will this
affect my training, preparation and performance in Beijing in 2008? No matter how you
look at it, the effect would be negative, especially on my motivation to continue to train,
heart and soul, and to represent a country that does not support me or have faith in my
At the other end of the summer sport spectrum, track and field athletes are already hard-
pressed to qualify under the old top-16 standards in what is arguably the world's most
"Even to make the world championships in our sport, the standards are already extremely
high, and to further reduce our ability to be allowed to compete at those levels, really
affects us detrimentally," says Jones.
Like many of those opposed to a top-12 Olympic qualification standard, Jones would
prefer to see track and field athletes measured against international sport federation
"Those are very tough as it is, but that would open it up to a few more athletes."
Earlier this year cracks began to show publicly in the COC plans for a top-12 standard
when rising biathlon star Maryke Ciaramidaro quit the Canadian team to compete for
Ciaramidaro, 21, who earned rave reviews when she finished eighth at the 2000 junior
world championships and first at the 2001 European championships, was eager to
compete at the Salt Lake Olympics even though she failed to achieve the top-16 standard.
But when the COC turned down her appeal and later announced its intention to make it
even tougher to qualify for future Games, Ciaramidaro, who holds dual citizenship,
decided to pack her bags and pursue her Olympic dream in Italy.
"We had two start positions [in Salt Lake], and to not use them was totally stupid," she
told the Globe and Mail. "The COC has these high expectations for us, but they wouldn't
give us the ladder to get there."
Snowboarder Alexa Loo also believes that making it tougher for Canadian athletes to get
to the Games is hindering, not helping efforts to produce Olympic medallists.
"The COC does not have a clear idea of how to develop elite athletes, although it has a
pretty good handle on how to make sport in Canada "elitist," said Loo prior to the COC's
decision to relax the top-12 standard for winter athletes. "Tightening the criteria will not
increase the medal count. You can't win a medal if you aren't there."
Canadian women snowboarders were denied the chance to compete at the 1998 and 2002
Olympics, says Loo, because the COC was unwilling to bend its stance on the previous
"In 1998 Julie Rheaume of Quebec would have gone to the Games as a member of the
U.S. team if she were an American. Unfortunately Canada's top ranked female had to
watch the games from her own living room in tears. Why? Julie did not meet the COC
criteria and quit racing that year."
Freestyle ski aerialist Ryan Blais, isn't keen on tougher standards either, saying the
previous top-16 criteria was getting the job done.
"Look at the results at the 2002 Games, the best performance ever for our country and
using the top 16 standard," says Blais, a third-year member of the national team.
Blais points to the example of two-time Olympic speed skating champion Catriona Le
May Doan, saying the experience she gained at her first Olympic Games in 1992 was an
important step along the way to her gold medal-winning performances in Nagano and
One of the inevitable consequences of trying to apply a common standard across all
Olympic sports is the fact that a top-12 in some sports is easier to achieve than in other
more competitive sports with a larger athlete base.
Lyndsay Alcock and her teammates on the national skeleton team are among the few
Canadian athletes who have already faced tougher standards than top-12 to qualify for the
To earn a spot on the Salt Lake Olympic team Alcock needed four, top-six World Cup
results, a standard set by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.
Alcock, however, says she understands the concerns of athletes in other sports where a
top-12 standard would be more difficult to achieve than in her sport.
"I would assume that in a cross-country race or alpine skiing event, there are far more
competitors than in skeleton and finishing even in the top 20 would be an amazing feat,"
Alcock, runner-up in the overall women's World Cup standings in 2003, believes it's
important for Canada to send as many athletes as possible the 2006 Games to expose
them to the "huge performance pressures and Olympic spotlight."
With two Olympic qualification standards now in effect for Canadian athletes, one for
summer sports, and one for winter sports, it looks as though the controversy over the top-
12 standard is far from over.
Athletes CAN Forum charts new course for advocacy efforts
From a kitchen table operation inspired by a handful of dedicated volunteers, Athletes
CAN has come a long way since it kicked and scraped its way into existence in the early
1990's as a voice for change in the Canadian sport system.
Just how far the organization has come over the last decade was amply demonstrated at
the annual Athletes CAN Forum held this fall in Winnipeg where athlete representatives
from over 50 sports gathered to learn more about advocacy, address athlete issues and
work towards building an improved "playground to podium" sport system for all
"Athletes CAN and athlete delegates have become far more sophisticated," says Lori
Johnstone, a guiding force behind the organization since the "kitchen table" era, who
hasn't missed a Forum since first one in 1992 when she was a member of the national
"In the beginning the atmosphere at the Forums was very emotional and at times almost
confrontational," recalls Johnstone, who has held various executive positions with
Athletes CAN, including Chairperson from 1997-1999.
"There was a lot of energy and some of it was quite negative energy based on frustration.
Now it's definitely less urgent. Athletes feel more empowered and I'd say there a far
larger number of athletes today who would be able to bring about change in a strategic
way that there were in the early days."
Delegates at this year's Forum participated in a lively, series of discussion groups, panels
and presentations led by some of the country's top sport leaders, including out-going
Athletes CAN chair Ian Bird, Chris Farstad, COC athlete services director, and Lilo
Ljubisic, chair of the International Paralympic Committee Athlete Council.
Secretary of State for Sport and Physical Activity Paul DeVillers and new Sport Canada
Director General Tom Scrimger, took part in an informative Q&A session, with
DeVillers deftly making light of the notorious federal budget last March which originally
made a token increase in high performance sport funding contingent on a successful
Canadian bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In the face of a barrage of highly-public criticism from outraged athletes and officials, the
government quickly back tracked, upping the increase from a conditional $10 million
over two years to $25 million over five with no strings attached.
"I don't know how that got into the budget," quipped DeVillers, with a smile. "Must have
been the printers who did it."
Inadvertent or not, the budget fiasco became a defining moment for Athletes CAN and
the sport community.
It's not often the Minister of Finance reverses a budget decision, however strong the
"The turnaround was breathtaking, " says Johnstone, who also knows her way around the
corridors of power in Ottawa, having spent two years as a policy advisor to former
Secretary of State for Amateur Sport Denis Coderre.
"It is impressive beyond words that athletes have reached the level of being able to do
that. Athletes CAN has certainly demonstrated its ability to be involved in decision
making at the highest level."
Looking to the future, Johnstone believes there's an opportunity for athletes "to become
champions on a much bigger stage in Canada, not just around Games but to be heroes on
a daily basis in lives of children, youth and all Canadians."
"I'd like to see that sport development and high performance sport is well positioned,
because you can't have one without the other, and that there's a higher profile for Athletes
CAN both in terms of what's happening in government but also the work of corporations
and foundations so that there's a streamlining of effort."
Reflecting, perhaps, a growing sense of self confidence, Athletes CAN wrapped up the
2003 Forum with an plan to expand its advocacy efforts in 2004 and beyond.
Guided by a revised Athlete Declaration first produced at last year's Forum in Quebec
City, athletes at this year's Forum identified a number of key action steps, including
leveraging 2010 Winter Olympics opportunities to drive sport and fitness development in
Canada, better marketing of athletes and amateur sport, development of a infrastructure
plan linked to the government's event hosting strategy and the establishment of a full
ministry of sport."
One of the immediate practical outcomes of the Forum will be a playbook of advocacy
actions and strategies that athletes can pursue collectively or individually to address
The Forum concluded with the election of a new Athletes CAN board of directors, led by
president Michael Smith (wrestling) and vice-president Kirstin Normand (synchronized
swimming). New directors Iain Brambell (rowing), Claire Carver Dias (synchronized
swimming), and Ryan Savage (boxing) will join current board members Lilo Ljubisic
(athletics) and Alexa Loo (snowboarding), Alec Denys (archery), Janice Forsyth
(athletics) and an athlete representative from the Canadian Olympic Committee and the
Commonwealth Games Association.
Timing is right for a full Sport Ministry
By Tom Jones
If recent reports suggesting new Liberal leader Paul Martin is ready to return amateur
sport to its former status with a full minister to the cabinet are accurate, Canadian athletes
have something to cheer about.
It's been just over 10 years since the sport portfolio was rolled into the Department of
Canadian Heritage and all but forgotten for much of the 1990's. Years of budget cuts took
their toll, as many smaller sports struggled to survive while others gutted development
programs to focus dwindling resources at the top of the high performance pyramid.
It's a testament to the resiliency of Canadian athletes that they've weathered these
setbacks so well, and continued to perform at a high level in so many sports, both
summer and winter.
Now it seems, the sport community is getting back on track. Funding for sport has
increased, though Canada still lags far behind other nations of similar size, and more than
ever, athletes are having an impact at all levels of the Canadian sport system.
In short, the future has never seemed brighter, especially with the Winter Olympics
coming to Vancouver-Whistler in 2010.
The timing couldn't be better for Mr. Martin to elevate the sport and physical activity
portfolio from the secretary of state status it now has to a full ministry.
Hosting the Games will provide a golden opportunity to showcase Canada to the world
and to harness the resources we need to build the kind of "playground to podium" sport
system envisioned in the Athletes CAN Declaration.
A full minister of sport would attract more interest around issues of sport and physical
activity, have more influence within cabinet, and a greater ability to collaborate with
other government departments both at the federal and provincial levels.
More important than the office itself of a ministry of sport, will be the interest and
influence of its holder. Looking back on the long list of federal sport ministers going back
to 1976, it's no secret that the most effective were those with a passion for sport who
stayed on the job for more than a year or two.
Athletes CAN has long advocated for the return to the federal cabinet of a full sport
Now is the time. Let's get on with it.
Bobsledder Jayson Krause steers his way to marketing
Bobsleigh pilot Jayson Krause is no stranger to meeting a challenge head on. Steering a
steel and fibreglass sled down a twisting chute of ice over 130 kilometres per hour while
pulling over four times the weight of gravity in the turns is not a sport for the faint-
Nor is it a sport without major financial hurdles to overcome for World Cup pilots like
Krause, who typically buy their own pricey, hi-tech sleds and runners.
For Krause, in his sixth year on the national team, it didn't take long to figure out that it
was going to take more than athletic ability to chase his dream of World Cup and
Not only did he need to $25,000 for a competitive four-man sled and another $10,000 for
runners, Krause also needed to find a way to support himself as a full-time athlete.
"I was sick and tired of working all day and being too tired to train," recalls Krause. "So I
decided to go out and find a corporate sponsor."
Krause can smile now at his naivete. However appealing the idea of hooking up with a
major sponsor, he quickly discovered that amateur athletes barely register as marketable
properties in the corporate boardrooms of the nation.
"Unless you have a relationship already with someone in the company, it's just a waste of
time to produce a fancy portfolio, send it out, and expect to land a big sponsor," Krause
explained during his lively presentation at this year's Athletes CAN Forum in Winnipeg.
Like any good bobsled pilot, however, Jayson learned from his mistakes.
Armed with the first and perhaps most important of many lessons yet to come, he opted
for the "smaller is better" approach that ultimately would lead to a successful annual golf
tournament and other fundraising activities that have generated $200,000 over the last
His first step was to form a fundraising committee of 15 friends and coined the slogan,
"Getting by with a little help from my friends."
Before finally hitting on the right formula, there were a number of wrong turns, including
the idea of selling colour prints of an artist's rendering of his crew pushing a sled. Over
2000 prints were produced, but most were never sold and wound up stored at his parents
house where they remain today.
Next he tried staging an Octoberfest event in Calgary but things did not go smoothly, and
he ended up losing $4,000.
The golf tournament, however, was a success from the start and is now bringing in about
$25,000 per year. As a bonus, the tournament soon led to other fundraising and marketing
The key for amateur athletes looking to market themselves is to understand that what they
are selling is "investing in a dream," says Jayson.
"That's what will draw people to you. They just want to see you do well."
Summing up, Krause offers a few other practical tips to athletes looking for ways to
Come up with an idea for a fundraising event
Keep things small
Look for help from family and friends
Set up a business and register it as a proprietorship which will enable companies to
write off the full amount of their donations as business expenses
Set up a web site and keep people informed about what you are doing
And last but not least, forget about that fancy portfolio you were thinking of sending
around to prospective big-ticket sponsors. Look for innovative ways to share your dream
and you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Sport Canada, COC plan joint high performance fund
Plans are in motion to combine the $5 million a year increase in high performance sport
funding announced in the federal budget last March with the Canadian Olympic
Committee's Excellence Fund.
Phil Schlote, head of Sport Canada's high performance unit, says the combined fund
should be in operation in 2004/2005 after a two-year transition period in which the lion's
share of the annual $5 million increase will go into a new program known as La Relève
designed to help develop athletes for the 2008, 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games.
In 2003 and 2004 La Relève will provide a total of $3.65 million per year to national
sport federations to support coaching, training programs and other initiatives with long-
term impact on athlete development.
Sport Canada also contributed $1,350,000 of the $5 million budget increase for this year
to the COC's Excellence Fund aimed at boosting Canadian medal chances at the 2004
Summer Olympics in Athens in 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
The Excellence Fund will hand out $4.5 million in extra funding this year to NSFs,
athletes and national sport centres, and will match that amount in 2004.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee will also receive additional funding amounting to
$1 million over two years from the budget increase to improve the level of performance
of Canada's Paralympic teams.
Once the two-year transition phase is complete, Sport Canada plans to top up the $5
million annual increase with an additional $2 million, bringing its contribution to the joint
high performance fund with the COC to about $7 million.
Legal tips for athletes
One in a series from the Sport Solution, a not-for-profit program at the University of
Western Ontario helping Canadian high performance athletes resolve legal conflicts. The
service is available at no cost to all national team athletes who are members of Athletes
CAN. To receive confidential advice contact the Sport Solution toll free at 1-888-434-
8883 or email email@example.com.
What is evidence?
Evidence is information that is used to prove a fact, disprove a fact or support or
contradict an argument. Evidence can be in the form of writing (documents, e-mails) or
Direct vs. indirect evidence
Direct evidence pertains to the incident itself. Examples include a recording of an event
or an eyewitness testimony.
Indirect evidence is evidence that a person must draw an inference from. Indirect
evidence is one step removed from direct evidence. An example would be a letter
describing the events of an incident.
Hearsay evidence is evidence obtained from third parties. Hearsay evidence is not often
admitted by a panel or committee making a decision because it is often difficult to prove.
Facts and details often change when the account is passed from one person to another.
Circumstantial evidence is not based on personal knowledge or observations of the facts
in dispute, but on other facts and observations that, through reasoning and deduction,
show the same outcome as if it had actually been observed.
Corroborative evidence supports, strengthens or confirms other evidence.
Contradictory evidence weakens other evidence.
What can athletes do to make sure they have all the evidence in any
Follow these five steps if you ever find yourself in a position to seek an appeal.
1. Keep a journal of all the events pertaining to your sport each year. Be very
specific with dates and times.
2. Never delete any e-mails pertaining to your sport.
3. If you have any important telephone conversations, make a note of what
transpired immediately after hanging up. This will ensure you don’t forget the
4. Keep a file of any mail correspondence you receive.
5. At the end of each year, print off your e-mails, gather your letters and phone call
transcriptions and sit down with your journal. Order all the material and then file
it away – just in case.
Where are they now?
It was a quintessential moment in track and field history. Zola Budd, the controversial
barefoot runner from South Africa with British citizenship, going up against American
favourite Mary Decker in the 3,000 metres at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Instead of the much-anticipated showdown between Budd and Decker, however, the race
turned into a bitter tale of heartbreak and disappointment for both runners. Decker fell
just past the midway point after colliding with her arch rival, while Budd, jeered by a
wildly partisan crowd of over 80,000, wilted in the homestretch.
Three other runners, including an unheralded Canadian with a big kick finish, came from
behind to scoop the medals. No one was more surprised than 24-year-old Lynn Williams
to find herself on the podium to receive an Olympic bronze medal.
"On the last 500 metres I didn't realize I had a chance, but on the last lap I was picking up
speed," Williams said later in an interview. "Zola Budd was falling back, I remember
thinking 'I'm catching Zola Budd. If I can get by her I can get a medal."
In that fleeting moment on a hot summer day in Southern California almost 20 years ago,
life changed irrevocably for Williams. From a promising young runner trying to find her
way in the highly competitive world of track and field, she was well on her way to a
stellar career as one of the best middle distance runners ever produced in Canada.
Looking back on that memorable day brings back fond memories for Williams, now, 43,
and busier than ever as the mother of four children aged 4-12, volunteer track and field
coach, and owner of successful sports stores in White Rock, B.C., where she lives, and in
Although best known for her bronze medal at the 84 Games, Williams singles out her
third-place finish at the 1989 world cross-country championships in Norway as her best-
"At that time the best in the world from 1500 metres up to marathon ran in that race and it
was really seen as the ultimate test in the running world."
A close second on her own career highlight reel is the 1500 metre final at the Seoul
Olympics in 1988 where she finished 5th in an event she strongly suspects was influenced
by drug use by some of the other competitors.
"I was only a couple of tenths of a second away from a silver medal and the finish was
just a barn burner down the home stretch. I beat a lot of people I'd never beaten before. If
you were to take out the druggies I should have won a medal."
Lynn is quick to point out, however, that she never wasted time or energy worrying about
what other athletes might be doing to give their performance a chemical boost.
"I just enjoyed running and competing. You had to face people that were going to take
that route so I took the attitude that I just had to live with it. For me it was all about
getting the best out of myself. That's what competing and pushing yourself is all about."
Among the many other highlights in her career, Williams won gold in the 3,000 metres
and bronze in the 1500 at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. She is also a six-time
Canadian middle distance champion and still owns the Canadian record in the 1500 she
set back in 1985.
This past summer she watched on TV as her other long-standing 5,000 metre record, also
set in 1985, was broken by Canadian runners Emilie Mondor and Courtney Babcock at
the world track and field championships in Paris.
"I follow the sport so I knew these gals were making some great strides," says Williams,
recalling a telephone conversation she had with Mondor about a year ago to wish her well
and urge her on to break the records.
Lynn figures her 1500-metre mark will probably fall next year and thinks Babcock will
likely be the first to do it.
It's still too early to tell, but Williams may one day have a competitive runner or two
under her watchful eye at home. All four children -- Robbie, 12, Jack, 10, Alison, 8, and
Jessica, 4, like to run, in addition to playing other sports. And all have the added bonus of
having their Mom as a coach at school -- for the last seven years Lynn has been coaching
at both the local elementary school and high school.
"I don't care if they do anything in a high level way. I just follow their lead and anything
they want to do I'm behind them 100 per cent. If that means they take it beyond the
average person, then that's fantastic. But as long as they're enjoying the journey, then
that's the most important thing."
Despite a full schedule, Lynn also manages to find time to get involved with activities
surrounding Vancouver's successful bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
"It's been awesome," she says with enthusiasm. "People don't understand what it does to
have a gigantic group effort like that and see how it trickles down to every community.
It's going to be fantastic. It's very exciting and I'm glad to be on board with all of that."
No stranger to adversity in her days as a competitive athlete, Lynn has also had to draw
on her bountiful inner reserves to get through the breakdown of her marriage to Paul
Williams, who like Lynn, retired from competitive running in the early 1990's holding a
slew of Canadian distance records.
"Life throws its curveballs, but I'm the type who wants to move forward," she says. "It's
been a difficult few years but at the same time, it's been a growing few years. If I can just
head out on the trails for a half and hour jogging by myself with my dog, I wind up
feeling that life is really good."
FastForward is a quarterly publication of Athletes CAN, the association representing Canada’s
national team athletes, including Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, Commonwealth, and
Aboriginal games athletes. Submissions to FastForward (either stories or photographs) are
welcome and may be sent to the editor. Submitted articles must not exceed 500 words and may be
edited for length and content.
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FastForward Editor: Ron Scammell
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