By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

April 12 - Roger Jackson (pictured), the architect of Canada's most successful-ever Olympics, is to step down as chief executive of the Own the Podium (OTP) programme just as he promised he would do after the Games in Vancouver were finished.


The 68-year-old from Toronto joins Chris Rudge who is due to leave his post as chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) on Friday after announcing last week that he had decided to move on.

Canada finished top of the medals table in Vancouver winning 26 medals, 14 of them gold, which also made them the most successful host nation in the history of the Winter Games.

But they went into the Olympics having been the only country in history to host the Games and failed to win a gold medal - a feat they had achieved at Montreal in 1976 and Calgary in 1988.

OTP was designed to ensure that that record was not extended and succeeded spectacularly.

The $117 million (£76 million) invested in the programme was used to fund training, hire coaches and medical staff, and invest in new sports technology.

When he was appointed in 2005, Jackson had promised that he would step down after Vancouver finished whatever the results.

He said: "I now have the opportunity to move on to new interests and ventures.

"I do so with sadness at leaving such wonderful and talented colleagues who I recruited as we built this team.

"I am confident they will carry on, and take this programme to the next level.

Jackson is to be replaced on a temporary basis by Alex Baumann (pictured), the 1984 Olympic 200 and 400 metres medley gold medallist.

Jackson, a former rower who had won an Olympic gold medal at the 1964 Games in Tokyo in the coxless pairs, is one of the most respected and successful administrators in Canadian history.

He is a former director of Sport Canada and former President of the COC.

John Furlong, the chief executive of the Vancouver 2010, led the tributes to Jackson.

He said: "As a key funder for the Own the Podium 2010 programme, it was essential to us that it was run by someone who truly understood sport, and that person was Roger Jackson.

"We saw Own the Podium as crucial to the success of the 2010 Games and worked hand in glove with Roger and his team - and the results say it all."

Rudge claimed that OTP had changed the landscape for Canada's athletes and future generations would reap the benefits.

He said: "The development of sport science and research is providing tools for success that will build the foundation for future Olympians.

"Roger had the perseverance and vision to stick to his guns through the development of this programme and the sport community owes him a big thank you."

Baumann, 45, was hired by OTP in January 2007 to direct the summer programme which has set the goal of Canada finishing among the top 12 nations at London 2012 after he returned to Canada having been executive director at the Queensland Academy of Sport in Australia.

He plans to direct OTP from its Ottawa office.

Baumann said: "Roger has been a great mentor who has shown that if you aim high and believe, great things can be achieved."

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April 2010:
 Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive to step down