This clipping was originally printed in the Calgary Herald.
Jeff Christie, in fact, was one of those who benefited back then.
“I remember calling my dad and saying, ‘Dad, I think there’s a way I can actually do this for a living’,” recalled Christie, a two-time Olympic luger who is now chair of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission. “I didn’t realize how little money that actually was at the time, but it was a meaningful thing for me to say, I can now do this sustainably.
“The reason we’ve advocated for the last five years for this increase is we need to be able to provide sustainable funding for our athletes so they can create their career routes. They can’t rely solely on their passion for their sport and their passion for the country. We have to make this a place they choose to be, they want to be and that they’re funded to be able to do that.”
On Friday at Canada Olympic Park’s WinSport facility, Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced an increase in funding to the Athlete Assistance Program to the tune of $5 million for a total of $33 million, an 18% increase.
AAP funding alleviates some of the burden placed on elite and up-and-coming athletes as they prepare for international sporting events.
“Our athletes have been and continue to be sources of inspiration for all Canadians, especially our youth,” said Hehr. “I am proud of the direct support that the Government of Canada has provided to our athletes over the last 40 years, including today’s new investment. This increase in funding will continue to allow athletes to strive for the podium.
“These funds will lighten some of the financial pressures associated with preparing for and participating in international sport for about 1,900 of our top athletes.”
Those pressures include paying for training, tuition, rent and supplementary help. The announcement was greeted, predictably, with smiles all around.