COC not pressuring athletes with top-two challenge
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Jul 11, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

COC not pressuring athletes with top-two challenge

Athletes believe the more pressure the better, top executive says


Don’t tell the Canadian Olympic Committee a top-two finish at the Pan Am Games is too much heat for its athletes.

“Those guys come and see us and tell us, ‘We want you to put more pressure.’ There is nobody who is better to handle the pressure,” COC president Marcel Aubut said hours before the competition officially started Friday night.

The COC has never invested in a Pan Am Games like they have for the 2015 multi-sport event, attracting Canada’s A-level stars to the 32 sporting events while fielding a team of 719 athletes. Between them, the Canadian athletes already hold 28 Olympic medals, 15 of which were earned at the London Games in 2012.

“They made sure that, if every athlete did qualify for these Games, they were given every opportunity to be here and to participate at home,” said Curt Harnett, Canada’s chef de mission. “Secondly, the preparation in the lead-up to these games has been Olympic-level.”

Canada is transforming into a top-level sporting nation, and this summer’s event is a lynchpin to that evolution, the chef de mission believes.

“Toronto 2015 is a game-changer,” Harnett said. “Why? Because these Games will leave a lasting legacy in our country. These world-class facilities will be used, in fact are being used, by current and future generations of athletes, some who don’t even know it yet.”

Harnett challenged his athletes who, in very Canadian fashion, originate from 45 countries, to make a statement heading into the Rio 2016 Summer Games next year. “Canada is your home, these are your Games. This is your legacy. Own it.”

Magali Harvey, a member of the women’s rugby sevens team and the International Rugby Board’s women’s player of the year in 2014, hopes the team will be buoyed by the home support, including that of friends and family who will join them at the Games’ first Canada House at the Hilton Toronto.

“I think its going to be the first time my parents actually get to see me on a field, not on a computer or on a TV,” Harvey said.

Harvey’s rugby sevens squad is a gold-medal contender. Aubut wants it that way for his country as a whole. A top-two finish would be Canada’s best result.

“This is an ambitious goal,” he said, “but … as you know by experience, we like it that way, and our team is ready.”

Toronto Star

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