During my lecture in Ottawa.

During my lecture in Ottawa.

I just returned from Ottawa, Canada, where I was invited to lecture (video and slides from “Peaking and Tapering for Optimal Performance”) and carry out some workshops for a group of about 80 top level coaches within the framework of Canada’s Own the PodiumÀ nous le Podium program. Interestingly, a few months ago I published an editorial in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, of which I am Associate Editor, entitled “Sport Science in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics”. In that paper, I highlighted the contribution of the Own the Podium initiative to Canada’s Olympic success in home soil, so I thought it would appropriate to reproduce the relevant part of that text here:

“The host country of the Games, Canada, with a population of about 35 million, finished at the top of the medal tally with an unprecedented gold medal count of 14. Canada based its Olympic aspirations on an initiative called Own the Podium, which provided financial support for Integrated Support Teams through National Sport Organizations and the network of Canadian Sport Centres. Integrated Support Teams included sport science and sports medicine professionals who provided support to coaches and athletes or teams: physiologists, sport psychologists, biomechanists, nutritionists, physical therapists/athletic therapists, and physicians. Additionally, a performance analyst was often part of an Integrated Support Team to support the use of innovations in video and technology for the purpose of performance enhancement. The Integrated Support Teams worked regularly with the coaches and athletes to ensure the latter received world-class care and support for their training, recovery, and competition programs, and to prepare them for optimal performance. According to Canada’s Own the Podium program, the delivery of sport sciences and sport medicine services was always athlete centered and coach driven. This approach required continuous communication and integration between the coach and the team of experts who supported the athlete and/or team. In addition, Own the Podium pursued excellence with a sport innovation and applied sport research program. All in all, Canada’s winter National Sport Organizations Excellence Funding was multiplied by 5 compared with the previous Olympic quadrennial, and its investment in research and innovation was multiplied by 12 in this same period. To what extent Canada’s investment in sport science contributed to its Olympic success is not easy to quantify, but it may be worth mentioning that a number of Olympic events were won or lost by margins of just a few hundredths of a second. If sport science support provided such an edge, then Canada’s investment in sport science could be considered a successful bet.”


MUJIKA, I. Sport science in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 5 (3): 273-275, 2010.

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