Letters to the editor

Courrier des lecteurs

Who will follow COA’s lead?

To the editor:

It is pleasing to see that certain national sports governing bodies (NSGB) have received funds from the Canadian Olympic Association (COA), $1.5 million adds incentive, (Champion, November 1981). These funds will help some athletes in specific Olympic sports to get the quality of coaching which is essential if one is to improve in the world rankings.

Many of the NSGBs slated to receive funds already have some athletes who are designated A or B cards. Carded athletes will now reap rewards from being directly, or indirectly, funded from two different sources, (i.e. through Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program and the COA’s Coaching Recognition Program, ed).

Hopefully, the federal government, or some other group, will introduce a points reward scheme, such as the COA has done, and will provide incentive funds to all sports, whether they are designated Olympic or not.

Many superior athletes in other Olympic and non-Olympic sports rank in the “top half in the world”. These dedicated young people are not “A or B carded” athletes and will not benefit from the scheme outlined in your article.

As we are well aware, in this day and age a considerable amount of money is required for coaching, training and competition. Surely the best Canadians in all sports deserve equal opportunities to do even better. The COA has made a good start. But what about the other sports?

Steve Pearson, National Team Leader for Orienteering, Hamilton, Ont.

Retirement a dilemma

To the editor:

With reference to Retirement: Athlete’s Transition Ignored by System, (Champion, May 1981), I would like to thank you for having expressed so well the ‘athletic hell’ we do go through when retirement becomes an issue with us.

I have been fencing for over ten years and was able to make it to national team status and international competition. I know my athletic career has taken a nosedive in the last year or so, but I am struggling to bring it back up. I find myself faced with the dilemma of wondering if it is really worth the struggle. I love my sport, the training, the travelling, the socializing. But I know the fantasy cannot go on forever. I guess I am just finding it difficult to let go.

Thank you for having written so succinctly about an issue which requires much more attention than it has been given.

CarolAnn Wishart, Ottawa.

Comments arouse ire

To the editor:

As one who has contributed to the sport of track and field as an athlete, a journalist and as a promoter, I was annoyed at comments attributed to Richard Pound in Pound stands firm on excellence, (Champion, August 1981).

Track and Field, or Athletics, is perhaps the oldest and most original Olympic sport. If the ancient Greeks could see Pound’s interpretation of their creation, they would surely turn in their graves.

Admittedly Athletics is not Canada’s strongest Olympic sport. This is due, in part, to the fact that Athletics is contested by more nations than other sports in which Canada excels. Furthermore, during the Olympics, the Athletics arena becomes the focal point of the Games. To reduce Canadian participation or eliminate it entirely would be a tragedy. I am not suggesting that our athletes be given the easy way in. Rather, if an athlete has strived long and hard to successfully achieve Olympic standards, then that athlete has as much right to participate as any other athlete in the world.

The question of sending an athlete because he is the best Canadian in his event, whether he has achieved Olympic standard or not, is a more complex situation and one that is best left in the hands of the governing body; in our case, the Canadian Track and Field Association (CFTA). As you can probably surmise, I for one have confidence in the CFTA to handle these problems. For Pound to declare that the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) “seemed to be the only organization which could set standards and impose accountability upon the sports”, borders on the preposterous.

The pursuit of excellence should be the goal of every athlete, but the COA must consider the consequences of the method it employs to attain excellence. If the COA lessens the chances of an athlete reaching the Games, the end result could prove catastrophic. I believe that many athletes will prematurely end their careers or find other sports. This may cause a snowball effect whereby prepubescents normally active in Athletics in public schools may be funnelled into other sports.

Mr. Pound may think I’m being facetious, but I am genuinely concerned for my sport and assure him that his convoluted “pursuit of excellence” will be damaging to the sport of Track and Field.

Paul Gains, Toronto.