Canada has come up to 13th spot from 18th in medal projections for the 2012 Olympics since the start of this year, according to Italian Olympic expert Luciano Barra.
The country will fall just short of its ambitious goal of a 12th-place finish in total medals won in London – set by the Canadian Olympic Committee – but it has not slid back from the 18 medals it took in Beijing in 2008. It should match that, says Barra, who was the deputy chief executive officer of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
"What I know is that Own the Podium is one of the best programs and you have seen the outcome in Vancouver," Barra said in an e-mail. Canada had a record 14 wins in the 2010 Vancouver Games.
His current calculations for London have Canada tied for 13th spot in total medals (18) with Kazakhstan. If gold medals are the tie-breaker, Canada gets the nod for 13th. Barra projects three gold medals for Canada (one more than Kazakhstan), 10 silver and five bronze.
Barra's projections in April were updated from figures published at the end of 2011. At that time, he'd prognosticated 16 medals for Canadians – five gold, two silver and nine bronze and 18th place in total hardware.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Canada had three gold, nine silver and six bronze.
Those were early days for the Own the Podium program, which spends federal money with the objective of converting medal-winning performances in World Cup events and world championships into Olympic medals. Own The Podium, established in 2005, provided the finishing details in nutrition, coaching, travel to and from competitions, technology and research. That became the model for Canadian high-performance sport. OTP paid out an average of $30-million over the past three years to summer sport federations with a high of $34.5-million for the crucial year before the London Games. The budget for both summer and winter Olympic sports is about $70-million a year.
Sports budgets were left unscathed in the last round of budget cuts, shockingly welcome news in a sports community braced for cutbacks after the home Olympics. Sport appears to have won a place in the federal agenda.
Chris Overholt, the COC's chief executive officer, called the success story of the Vancouver Games "transformational for our country."
"In the summer Games it is more difficult for Canada than in the Winter Games. My projections are based on the results of the last world championships in each Olympic sport because I am not able, nor do I want, to evaluate subjective elements," Barra said.
With 93 days to the London Games, predictions for Canada's performance range from a very conservative 14 medals on the website sportsmyriad.com, to 17 from Canadian-born economics professor Daniel Johnson at Colorado College (he uses economic factors in predicting medals and has an accuracy record of 93 per cent), to 18 from Barra to the more than 60 Canadian athletes for whom a top-three ranking in 2012 is projected by Canadian sport officials tracking World Cup and world championship performances.
Barra picks 83 of the 204 countries entered in the Summer Olympics to win medals.
At the top, China is projected to win 103 total medals (44 gold, 30 silver, 29 bronze).The United States comes next with 81 (35-17-29) after leading the over all medal count at the 2008 Beijing Games with 110 – 10 more than China.
Rounding out Barra's top 10 are: Russia (76 medals), host Britain (59), Germany (55), France (41), Japan (40), Australia (36), Italy (32), South Korea (28).