Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Things are moving along swimmingly

Babble on.

Canada does not lack the talent to compete with other nations at the Olympics, winter or summer. In any event, the talent pool tends to be related more to population than anything else - the rest is exposure and development - and so worrying about talent isn't too productive. What we have lacked, up until fairly recently, is organization and focus. Unlike talent, organization and focus can be improved through...well...organization and focus. The point is, we can actually improve it with a little effort.

The Own the Podium program for the winter games has already borne fruit, and now Alex Baumann has been repatriated to lead the Road to Excellence initiative, a similar program for the summer games.

Some top athletes can't pass on what made them successful. Some can only do it on a tactical level, and not a strategic or systemic one. Baumann isn't one of them.

In 1991, Baumann moved to Australia to pursue graduate studies at the University of Queensland. Following his academic career, he was appointed as the Manager of Sport Programs for the Queensland Academy of Sport in 1996. He then held various positions with the Queensland Government before becoming Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Swimming in 1999. In 2002, he assumed the role of Executive Director for the Queensland Academy of Sport where he was responsible for overseeing sport programs, athlete and coach support services, regional services, the Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research and business services in order to ensure that Australian athletes had the best resources necessary for attaining high-performance goals.

"The appointment of Alex Baumann to lead the Road To Excellence initiative is a major shot in the arm for the Canadian summer sport system," said Swimming Canada Chief Executive Officer and National Coach Pierre Lafontaine. "Having worked with Alex in Australia, I am confident in saying that no individual will bring about as much focus, dedication, passion and commitment to the position as Alex. He is one of the top high-performance strategists in the world and we are very lucky to have his guidance and leadership in developing and executing this plan."

Not that the good folks at the COC need my advice, but I can't think of a better choice - inspirational for Canadians because of his personal performance and iconic athletic status, and proven organizationally for leading a prominent and successful high-performance sporting body. Hopefully the days of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity are done and gone. This is a good sign for Canadian athletics.

Babble off.


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