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Monday, September 25, 2000

It's time to rethink our philosophy

 Women's rowing coach Al Morrow says it's time to eject the excess athlete baggage.

 Morrow left for London Monday convinced both rowing and Canadian amateur sport in general has to give a major rethink to how our Olympic forces are deployed after what is turning out to be a particularly unimpressive Games.

 "The Olympic Games is not the place to develop," he said, referring to the number of athletes here who came with absolutely no chance of doing much. "That should be done in the Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games, age group meets and so on, not here.

 "We've got to streamline our representation."

 The Canadian team numbered more than 300 athletes. The medal yield to date is one gold, a silver and five bronze. For anybody counting, the total four years ago was 22.

 Expectations weren't high but few expected the medal famine here.

 "We should aim to be a strong middle power," said Morrow, a highly regarded coach who led the Canadian women to a host of medals the last two Olympics but only one here, a bronze by the London-based women's eights.

 "We should be concentrating on our strengths, not all Olympic sports and put our efforts into our best bets."

 Morrow said he includes rowing in that thinking. Only the stronger boats ought to contest the Olympics.

 "Obviously, we're a little disappointed," he said. "Some didn't come through as we expected. On the other hand, the women's eights (bronze) were not pegged to win a medal and did.

 "The fact is, we really rowed to an incredibly high standard and you have to remember 13 nations shared in the 21 rowing medals this time. The top four men's eights from last Olympics didn't make the final here."

 There has been a general call for more funding by the federal government, something with which Morrow naturally agrees.

 "On the other hand, the money has to be spent wisely."

 Morrow said rowing in Canada requires some revamping along with other sports.

 "I think a single head coach is necessary," he said.

 "There was not the unity we could have the way it is."

 Morrow is head coach of the women's team based in London, Diethelm Maxthelm is men's head coach based in Victoria, B.C.

 Once the Games are over here, Morrow won't be the only coach searching for answers.