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Former Canadian Olympian Alex Baumann, seen in this 1999 file photo, worked in Australia for many years to help develop that country's swim program into a global powerhouse. ((Col Townsend/Associated Press))

Swimming legend Alex Baumann is returning home from Australia to spearhead Canada's push for Summer Olympic gold.

The two-time Olympic champion wasintroduced Wednesday as executive director of the Canadian Olympic Committee's Road to Excellence program.

Baumann takes over his new role in January and he will be based in Ottawa.

"I look forward to the challenge," Baumann said. "I don't have any illusions. I think it will be a difficult job and it will take time to implement a sustainable system that will produce long-term results."

Baumann, 42, made a name for himself as the Canadian star of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. He claimed two gold medals in world-record time, winning the 200- and 400-metre individual medleys.

They were Canada's first Olympic gold medals in men's swimming since 1912.

Expected toboost Canadian sports

After retiring from competitive swimming in 1987, Baumann moved to Australia in the 1990s,and has helped transform the country's swim program into a powerhouse on the world scene. He was most recently the executive director for the Queensland Academy of Sport.

In his new role with the COC, Baumann is expected to help revive Canada's flagging Olympic results in summer sports.

Released in June, the Road to Excellence Business Planis the initial action plan by Canadian sport to elevate the country's global status in Summer Olympic and Paralympic sports.

It is similar tothe Own the Podium 2010 program introduced for Canadian winter sports last year.

Canadian winter sports programs have flourishedin recent years.Thenational goal for the 2010 Vancouver Games under Own the Podiumis for the country to finish No. 1 in the medal standings.

The Road to Excellence plan targets a top-16 placing for Canada at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and a top-12 medal position at the 2012 London Games. The goal for the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games is to finish in the top five.

Canadian athletes won 13 medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics and finished 19th in the overall medal tally.

Baumann said sports and athletes with the ability to help the COC reach its targets will receive an extra push under the program.

With files from the Canadian Press