Sports

New role for head of Vancouver Games

The Canadian Press has learned that John Furlong, chief executive officer of the 2010 organizing committee for the Vancouver Olympics, is expected to take over leadership of the Own the Podium program.

Furlong taking over leadership of the Own the Podium program

As head of the 2010 Winter Games, he lit the spirit of the Olympics across Canada, and now John Furlong's next step may be keeping that flame burning.

The Canadian Press has learned that Furlong, the chief executive officer of the 2010 organizing committee, is expected to take over leadership of the Own the Podium program.

The $117-million program was developed by Olympic organizers, Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees to help Canadian athletes dominate the 2010 Games.

While they didn't walk away with the most medals, Canadians set a record for most gold medals won by a single nation at a Winter Olympics, winning 14 overall.

A strategic advisory committee made up of Canadian Olympic and Paralympic officials as well as a representative from the 2010 organizing committee and the federal government currently oversees the program.

But Furlong would become chairman of a new board, following a recommendation by a report last year suggesting it needed management that was independent from the groups the program funds.

The current chief executive officer of OTP said he thought Furlong was a good idea as a potential leader.

"I hope he'll have a role to play, but I really don't know 100 per cent," said Alex Baumann.

"The reason I would like him to be involved is he's got the credibility."

The composition of the board has not been finalized but a formal announcement is expected in May.

Furlong's position as chairman of the board would be a non-paying position.

After a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade two weeks ago, Furlong had said he was still exhausted from the Games.

"I'm going to try to catch my breath and I am still waking up too early," he said.

"It's not [the] waking-up-in-the-morning-in-a-cold-sweat kind of feeling when you're running a project like this. It feels good. I am looking forward to the next stage of my life."

He is also expected to write a book.

OTP was launched in 2004 with $66 million in funding contributed by the federal government and around $10 million by provincial governments as part of their partnership agreement with the Olympic Organizing Committee.

The committee, known as VANOC, financed the remainder through its sponsors.

While the federal government is replacing some of VANOC's contribution, the money is only there through 2012.

As well, the sponsorship deals negotiated by VANOC run out in 2012 and keeping corporate money in sport is seen as crucial to its success.

The new president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut, has also said that he wants to increase the profile of Canada on the global sporting circuit and intends to try to bid for more high-profile events, including another run at a future Games.

Canada will also host the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto.