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Saturday, July 16, 2016

OLYMPICS: Canada wants at least 19 medals at Rio Olympics

Pole vaulter Shawn Barber and his track and field teammates are an important team for Own the Podium's goal for 19 or more medals in Rio. © Kevin Light Photography
The Canadian Olympic team is confident it can reach its goal of winning at least 19 medals at the Rio Olympics.
"Our primary goal is to win more medals than we won in London (in 2012), so 19 or higher will achieve that important goal," Anne Merklinger, CEO of Own The Podium said Wednesday on a conference call. "Our ultimate goal is to finish in the top 12 in total nation medal counts," she said.
"We know that every medal will matter and it is an extremely tight medal race."
By top 12, Merklinger was referring to total medals, regardless of colour. The International Olympic Committee gives priority to gold medals in its standings, so Canada was nowhere near the top 12 in London with 18 total medals, but only one gold.
The July version of the Virtual Medal Table, produced by Gracenote (formerly Infostrada sports) predicts Canada will fall short of its medal total objective, winning 16 medals in Rio (three gold, eight silver, five bronze). Gracenote also indicates the majority of Canadian medals will be won by women. The table is created with an algorithm that uses results as its basis. 
Merklinger said boosting the medal count is a realistic goal based on performances in recent years, especially the athletics squad that took eight medals at its last world championships.
She said the current team is healthier, better funded, and better coached.
"Athletics heads into Rio as Canada's strongest multi-medal potential sport," she said. "In addition, diving, swimming, cycling and women's wrestling also have strong multiple-medal potential."
"Secondly, Canada heads to the Games with more top-3s, top-5s and top-8s than we had heading into the 2012 Games — approximately 15 per cent more — and this is significant."
Other sports with promising medal chances include golf, tennis, beach volleyball and boxing, she said.
Also, Canada has five squads that qualified for the Games in team sports, matching its most ever, first achieved in 1984. The women's rugby sevens team has perhaps the best medal hopes.
Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Overholt said all signs point to a bigger medal haul.
"Our projected team size standing at 315 athletes is larger and deeper than the team we sent to London," said Overholt. "When we look at the strength of our team, we are confident in our potential to finish in the top 12."
He also tried to allay fears of crime and health hazards such as the Zika virus in Rio, not to mention reports that some venues may not be ready for the Games.
"We have confidence that the Rio organizing committee will deliver the Games on time and in venues that will meet Olympic standards," he said.
He added that "we're confident that Rio will provide a safe environment for the health of our athletes. In 44 test events held in Rio ahead of these Games, which included more than 7,000 athletes, 8,000 volunteers and 2,000 staff, there have been no serious health concerns, according to Rio officials, and no reported cases of Zika."
Overholt said he has been assured by Canadian and Brazilian police and security experts that the team will be safe.
The Canadian Press