Olympic Expectations in Vancouver

Leading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Canada created Own The Podium as a means to inject strategic funding to medal-potential athletes and increase the country’s medal haul at the home Games. The focus on winning marked a controversial shift in the Canadian psyche – and executives at Own The Podium knew it would be crucial to manage their messaging in the lead-up and during the Games when their organization would be put under a global microscope. Chris worked with OTP in the 12 months leading to the Opening Ceremony to fine-tune the organization’s messages, meet with key reporters and stakeholders across the country to set expectations, and execute on a carefully crafted plan – including the targeted release of elements of OTP’s “Top Secret” science of sport research – that helped ease the transition for Canadians from rooting for participants at the Games, to cheering for medalists at the Games. At the mid-way mark of the Olympic Games, Canada was lagging behind in the medal count – not unexpectedly given the event schedule and when medal-targeted athletes were set to compete. Despite the pressure from media and sport peers who were ready to call Own The Podium an utter failure, Chris and the team held fast to their plan and messaging, working with trusted journalists to deliver their position. In the end, Canada set a new record for gold medals won at a Games, and Own The Podium continues its mandate and is working towards putting more Canadians on the podium in international competition.

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