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Dec 06, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

Pan-am athletes promised funding for 2015 Toronto games

Local Olympians applaud cash infusion

Scarborough Mirror

Canada is throwing down the gauntlet when it comes to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is devoting $2.6 million of an earlier four-year, $100 million commitment to high-performance sport in the country to ensuring Canada gets to send its top athletes to the games.

For many of the country’s amateur athletes, funding is often lacking, meaning any time spent competing can leave them in the lurch financially.

The funding announcement, which was made Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, will allow athletes to focus more on competition and less on worrying whether they can afford to travel or take the time off work to take part in the Games.

“Canada will truly be able to put our best team forward on the field of play,” said COC President Marcel Aubut. “Every athlete who can compete will compete.”

That, Aubut said, will lead to a contingent of more than 1,000 Canadian athletes in the various Pan Am and Para Pan games.

TO2015 CEO Ian Troop noted the overall funding commitment will have an impact that will last long after the Pan Am Games have ended, as high-performance sporting facilities being built with the funds will help ensure Canadian athletes have outstanding training spaces for generations to come.

Troop said the $2.6 million commitment made Wednesday will make a huge difference in Canada’s showing at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

“Today, in my mind, Canada has served notice it’s bringing its A-Game to the Toronto 2015 Games,” he said.

The funding is especially welcome given the Games will take place on Canadian soil. Troop pointed out that success at the Pan Am Games often translates to success at the Olympics. Should that trend continue, a good showing at Toronto 2015 would bode well for Canadian athletes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the 2016 Olympics.

Olympians Donna Vakalis and Jason Burnett also spoke of the importance of funding. Vakalis, who competed in modern pentathlon at the London 2012 Games, said there is something special about competing on home soil.

“This support will amplify that special magic,” she said.

Burnett, an Olympic silver medal-winning trampolinist, noted the funding will serve as an enormous boost to Canadian athletes.

“High-level competition is incredibly stressful just on its own without having to worry about the financial complications that come along with it,” he said, adding the infusion of money will reduce one element of strain on athletes.

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