By JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press
SYDNEY -- Interest in Heritage Ministry forums on sport in Canada has soared since the Olympics began, Sport Canada executive director Dan Smith said Thursday.
"Yes, they've become timely," Smith said in reference to public regional conferences on the direction sport ought to be taking.
The new interest is clearly a response to Canada's poor performance at the Olympic Games here. After winning 22 medals at the Atlanta Olympics, Canada was sitting at nine with three days remaining in the Games. There is potential to win four or five more.
Smith, formerly of London, deals with the dispersal of funding to governing sports bodies across the country. How that money will be apportioned, he said, depends upon the outcome of the public meetings chaired by Secretary of State Dennis Coderre.
"We're seeking input from the grassroots level up," he said. "The idea is to create a new national sports policy."
The old one didn't work here. Smith said the forums would deal with everything from getting more young people involved in sport to the needs of high-performance athletes.
The Ontario meeting will be held in Hamilton in November.
Smith said one option relating to high-performance sport is to focus on specific ones, as suggested by a number of coaches and team leaders here, including rowing coach Al Morrow. They view sending athletes with no chance of contending a waste of time and money.
"We want to focus on what to do to make things better, rather than dwell on problems," Smith said.