Sunday, August 29, 2004

IOC eyes on Canada

JIM BYERS
SPORTS REPORTER
WAYMORESPORTS.COM

ATHENS - Canada has to do more to ensure Canadian athletes are successful at the Vancouver Games in 2010, the head of the International Olympic Committee said today.

Asked by the Star yesterday about Canada’s disappointing performance at the 2004 Summer Games, Rogge told an Athens wrapup press conference that he’s “definitely” concerned about Canada’s situation.

“It’s very high on my agenda,” he said. “I’ll be in Vancouver at the end of the year and I’ll be meeting with the government in Ottawa” and governments in British Columbia.

“I have been urged my Canadian friends in the IOC and the Vancouver organizing committee (to address) the issue of government funding to help Canadian sport, and definitely the IOC would help,” he said.

Rogge wasn’t available to expand on his remarks, but he noted that he had pushed the Italian government to boost funding for Italy’s athletes in advance of the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.

“We can do that in Canada,” he said.

He then added with a wry smile, “I don’t think we have to do that in Beijing” for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Canadians will likely be debating Canada’s performance at the 2004 Games for some time to come. Canada won 18 medals in Barcelona in 1992, then jumped to 22 medals in Atlanta in 1996. That number dropped to just 14 in Sydney four years ago, and Canada will finish the 2004 Olympics with just a dozen medals; three gold, six silver and three bronze.

Canadian Olympic Committee officials are holding a wrapup press conference of their own here today.

There was a chance for Canada to add to its medal count today, but wrestlers Daniel Igali and Gia Sissaouri were eliminated in their morning bouts. Dominique Bosshart lost a repechage match today and was eliminated from competition.

Igali, a gold medallist in Sydney who endeared himself to people across Canada by kissing the Canadian flag after he won, won his two bouts on Saturday but lost totday to Cuba’s Ivan Fundora.

“Six months ago I was wondering if I should take part in the Olympic Games,” he said. “I was not well prepared. I also had some problems with injuries and pains in my back.”

Igali said he slept badly Saturday night.

“I was thinking just about that. I’m not happy at all, but I have no reason to feel ashamed. I tried as hard as I could.”

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