Canada Hopes to Finish among Top 12 in London

Ottawa, May 30 (IANS): Canada hopes to finish among the top 12 in the 2012 Olympics.

So says three-time Olympic medallist and International Swimming Hall of Fame member Mark Tewksbury, Canada's chef de mission for the London Games.

"It's an ambitious goal," Tewksbury was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

At the 2008 Games in Beijing, Canada finished 14th with a overall medal count of 18 -- far short of the country's best performance in 1984 when it won 44 medals, including 10 gold.

Canada won 14 gold medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Tewksbury said Canada was hoping to follow the example of the US at the 2010 Winter Games, which had 13 "dark horse" athletes who weren't ranked in the top eight in their respective sports but who nonetheless ended up on the podium.

"Those are the kind of performances we need to have in London," said Calgary-born Tewksbury, whose first Olympic medal, a silver, at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul came in relay.

At Barcelona four years later, Tewksbury defied the odds and took the gold in the 100m backstroke, the first gold Canada won at that Olympics.

At the same Games, he also won a bronze, again in the relay event.

Although his gold performance earned him a cover story in Time magazine and numerous endorsements followed when he retired from swimming in 1992, Tewksbury received no monetary compensation for his Olympic triumph.

Things are different now for Canadian Olympians. Since the Beijing Games, an individual or team athlete winning a gold medal gets $20,000 through a fund established by the Canadian Olympic Committee.

A silver medal earns $15,000 and a bronze $10,000. Coaches whose athletes win a medal get half the amount.

The stipends are designed to make Canadian Olympic athletes competitive globally. Canada's government provides $62 million in funding every year.


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