The new head of the Canadian Olympic Committee pledges to work as hard as the country's high-performance athletes to help push the organization to new heights.
Jean Dupré took over as the COC's chief executive officer on Monday and said he hopes to build on the strong foundation left by predecessor Chris Rudge while capitalizing on the wave of enthusiasm from the Vancouver Games.
"I've always believed in the relentless pursuit of excellence and I have lived it every day of my career in sport," said Dupré. "We have a treasured legacy to build upon and we will have to draw on every ounce of our strength to push ourselves to the limit and do our utmost to achieve results never seen before on and off the podium."
He brings a strong background in amateur sport that includes 15 years as the head of Speed Skating Canada. The native of St-Jovite, Que., oversaw a program that collected 30 Olympic medals during the last three Winter Games. The federation earned the International Olympic Committee's Sporting Excellence Award for its effort.
Dupré will work closely with COC president-elect Marcel Aubut and Chris Overholt, who was named chief operating officer and chief marketing officer on Monday. The three men are charged with plotting a path forward from Vancouver.
"There's always a slump after the Games," said Aubut. "That's why we need strong people to avoid the slump, to keep the flame alive and to keep the focus on sport."
Rudge, who stepped down last Thursday, led the COC for seven years and long made it known that he would step aside following the Vancouver Games. A search for his replacement started in October and drew a "surprising" amount of interest, according to Aubut.
Dupré credited Rudge for "working tirelessly" in successfully lobbying the federal government to support amateur sport. While that will continue to be part of his role, there will also be a considerable amount of time spent wooing the corporate community.
"[We're going to be] focused more on making it like a business," said Dupré. "But for one single reason — to be able to attract the necessary dollars that we need and the necessary support that we need [for our] athletes."
That's where Overholt comes in. The Toronto native has held marketing positions with a number of professional sports teams — most recently the NFL's Miami Dolphins — and will be in charge of continuing to build the COC brand.
"He's got all the new ideas and the new approach," said Aubut. "We're going to need that to renew our sponsors."
It's a time of sweeping change on the Canadian amateur sporting scene. In addition to the new blood at the COC, Alex Baumann has taken leadership of the Own the Podium program while the federal government continues to examine how it will be involved moving forward.
Dupré plans to seize on that opportunity and attempt to bring each of the parties closer together to better deliver high-performance sport. He wants to solicit more input from the national sport organizations — a clear nod to his background — and streamline programs.
Canada is coming off its best Olympics ever, winning a record 14 golds and 26 total medals in Vancouver.
Overholt comes from a professional sports background. After spending time with the Toronto Raptors, he left Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to work with the Florida Panthers of the NHL and the NFL's Miami Dolphins.