The Canadian Olympic Committee has set a goal to finish first overall at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. It will take more than belief and inspirational quotes from kids on television to beat out the world's top countries.
To compete with the world, Canada must do whatever is necessary to put them on the top of the podium. With the introduction of football player Jesse Lumsden to the Canadian bobsleigh program, the COC is proving that they are willing to break a sweat and put the best athletes in the games.
Pierre Lueders and Jesse Lumsden won the national two-man bobsleigh competition last Saturday in Whistler. Lumsden had only been training with the national team for a week prior to this race--his first.
Lumsden joined bobsleigh because it is excellent training for football-- he currently plays for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. While he may have joined to prepare for football, Lueders will continue training with the team during the summer, progressing towards a spot on the 2010 Olympic team.
Canada has not won a gold medal in bobsleigh since Pierre Lueders and David MacEachern won in Nagano in 1998. Since that time, Canada received no bobsleigh medals in Salt Lake City and won silver in Turin. Canada cannot compete on the world stage without the best athletes pushing the sleighs down the track.
The entire world will be gunning for Canada because we have a massive target on our backs with Own the Podium. Countries such as the United States and Russia, with populations that dwarf Canada's, have an abundance of athletes to choose from. Canada is not lucky enough to have the massive population and must take our best athletes from all disciplines and allow them to compete.
The inclusion of Lumsden on the Olympic team proves that the Own the Podium campaign is creating a successful environment that will allow our athletes to win. It shows that the COC is willing to go beyond throwing money at the athletes; it is going out and recruiting the best athletes.
Frankly, no matter the symbolic peace and sportsmanship undertones of the games, the goal for every country is to win and hold bragging rights for four years. With the Olympic games heading to Vancouver next year Canadian sports organizations cannot afford to be nice. This is no longer high school athletics where fun and playing time should be available for all. It is the biggest sporting competition in the world and a time for ruthlessness. If Jesse Lumsden is skilled enough to steal a roster spot from a veteran then that is the way it should be.
This theory should spill over to all sports, especially hockey where the team needs to be created of the right players, who can come together and win.
This may exclude some veterans from Salt Lake City and Turin or it may exclude talented rookies, but so be it.
With such high expectation placed upon our athletes to win, the country must send the best athletes to Vancouver, the contestants who possess the skill to claim the gold.
I'm proud that Lumsden joined the bobsleigh team, and will work hard with his mates to ensure that Canada can place the best athletes on the ice, and maybe, just maybe, will be one medal of many hanging around Canadian athletes' necks.