Canadians should be thankful for what this Assyrian has helped Canada accomplish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Meet Helena Guergis, an Assyrian woman in charge of Canada’s Secretary of State for sports. She just assumed her post within the last 12 months, and is one of the main reasons why Canada just finished the Olympic games in Beijing as their third best ever.
Said Chris Rudge, COC chief executive officer and secretary general: “The Harper government came through in a big way for us, especially Secretary of State (Sport) Helena Guergis who showed great leadership in bringing the needs of summer sport to the House of Commons.” This is in references to the new funding formula that Canadian athletes will start to receive, starting from this very Beijing 2008 summer Olympics. As a result, this has translated in Canada’s third best performance at all Olympics (non-boycotted), ever!
According to the Canadian Olympic Committee, the new funding, which has become a reality under the leadership of the honorable Helena Guergis, will provide: $8 million in 2008-09, $16 million in 2009-10 and, most importantly, $24 million each year after that – in perpetuity – for the RTE program. In the end, the program could receive far more than the $150 million over five years for which the COC was advocating.
At the start of the Olympics, and for one whole week, Canada received zero medals. Canadians, including myself, grew very tired and frustrated at this weak and pathetic Canadian display at the Olympics. In fact, at first, I was going to write the very same essay, but with a negative theme about Helena Guergis’ partial role in such a lackluster display. It was very embarrassing to see countries such as Uzbekistan, Togo, Tunisia and others with medals, and nothing for us to show. Now that the Olympics are over, Canada has 18 medals, including 3 gold, 8 silver, and 6 bronze, putting it in the 13th position of countries with most medals. In fact, at the start of the Olympics, CBC had an interview with Ms. Guergis, and she was quiet confident that Canadian athletes would deliver. However, I was very skeptical myself. But boy was she right or what!
Looking ahead to the winter Olympics in 2010, which will be hosted by Vancouver of all places, Canada has a new initiative in place: “Own the Podium” The aim of this initiative is to put Canada on the top of the medal standings. With the games being played in our own backyard, and given the realistic and serious demands of this program, the honorable Helena Guergis will be even harder at work to make Canadians proud. And Assyrians too!