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Published on August 25, 2008

China's Zhong Man, left, and France's Julien Pillet compete during the semifinals of the men's individual saber quarterfinals at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, August 12, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Xin Wang and Ruolin Chen from China performs a dive to win the gold medal in the women's synchronized 10-metre platform diving final at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, August 12, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

China's gymnast Yang Wei performs on the horizontal bar during the men's individual all-around competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug 14, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

South Korea's Lee Hyun-il competes against China's Bao Chunlai in the men's singles badminton quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics Thursday Aug.14, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

China's womens team Zhang Yining and Wang Nan play against Dominican Republic's womens team Joenny Valdez and Lian Qian during table tennis team competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in in Beijing,China, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008. - Photo by The Ass

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's right fielder Michael Saunders (20) catches a first inning fly out by Cuba's Yuliesky Gurriel during a baseball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 14 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Adam Wong, from Calgary, performs on the parallel bars during mens individual all-around final gymnastics at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China Wednesday Aug.13, 2008. Wong was the highest Canadian in the competition placing 15th. - Photo by

Published on August 25, 2008

Janos Baranyai, of Hungary, grimaces on the platform after dislocating his right elbow while attempting to lift 148 kilograms in the snatch of the Group B of the men's 77 kg of the weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wednesd

Published on August 25, 2008

Gold medalist Yang Xiuli of China bites her medal at the suggestion of photographers at the medals ceremony of the women's judo -78kg half heavyweight division finals at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. Photo by The Associate

Published on August 25, 2008

The Spanish Men's Track Cycling team works out during a training session at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Kim Jungjoo of South Korea takes a punch from John Jackson of Virgin Islands, during a men's welterweight 69 kilogram preliminary boxing match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canadian Nathan Gafuik performs on the paralell bars at the men's individual all-around final during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing Thursday Aug 14, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Mike Brown, from Oshawa, Ontario, looks back at his time in the men's 200-metre breastroke final at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, August 14, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Richard Kok of St. Catharines, Ont. removes his Canadian flag from the bleechers at the rowing venue in Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Thursday, Aug.14, 2008 after rain cancelled the afternoon events. Kok was on had to watch his daughter Melanie Kok

Published on August 25, 2008

49er crew from Australia, Canada, China and Austria, from left to right, compete during race 9 of the 49er class sailing competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Qingdao, about 720 kilometers southeast of Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008. - Photo by T

Published on August 25, 2008

Li Na of China, reacts after defeating Venus Williams of the USA, during women's singles tennis action at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

China's Wang Feng, bottom, and Qin Kai compete in the men's synchronised 3m springboard diving final at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing Wednesday Aug 13, 2008. The pair won the gold medal. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Christine Sinclair, from Vancouver B.C. reacts after Team USA scored their first goal during womens quarter-final football action at the Beijing Olympics in Shanghai, China Friday Aug.15, 2008. The United States defeated Canada 2-1 in extra time

Published on August 25, 2008

Zhang Xi of China hits the ball during play against Cuba in a beach volleyball match at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008.China won 2-0. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

U.S. sailor Anna Tunnicliffe sails to the start of race four of the Laser Radial Women class sailing competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Qingdao, about 720 kilometers southeast of Beijing, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

The United States' Shannon Boxx head the ball over Canada's Diana Matheson during their women's soccer quarterfinals match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Shanghai, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

In this combo of photos, New Zealand rider Katie McVean goes over her horse Forest at a fence during the first qualifying round for the Equestrian Show Jumping competition during the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008. - Photo by Th

Published on August 25, 2008

Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia, third left, and other competitors clear the water jump in a women's 3000m steeplechase heat during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008. - Photo by Th

Published on August 25, 2008

United States' Margaret Hoelzer swims the backstroke leg of a women's 4x100-meter medley relay heat during the swimming competitions in the National Aquatics Center at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008. - Photo by The Associated

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's goal keeper Karina LeBlanc, from Maple Ridge, B.C. leaves the football pitch following Canada's 2-1 loss to the United States in quarter-final womens football action at the Beijing Olympics in Shanghai, China Friday Aug.15, 2008. - Photo By The C

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Dylan Armstrong, from Kamloops, B.C., sits on the bench after missing the bronze medal on the last throw during the shot put final at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Friday, August 15, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Jeane Lassen from Victoria, B.C. kisses the weights as she competes in the women's 75kg weightlifting final at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Friday, August 15, 2008. Lassen placed eighth. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Carol Huynh from Hazelton, B.C. reacts following her gold medal victory over Chiharu Icho from Japan in the women's freestyle 48kg wrestling final at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, August 16, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian

Published on August 25, 2008

Carol Hyunh of Canada,is carried off after defeating Japan's Chiharu Ichu in the final of 48kg women's freestyle wrestling competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008. Carol won gold. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's David Calder of Victoria, B.C. shares a moment with his daughter Mira, 4, after he and teammate Scott Fradsen of Kelowna, B.C. won the silver medal in the men's pair rowing final at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008.

Published on August 25, 2008

Italy's Valentina Vezzali, right celebrates after winning the final point to Hungary's Virginie Ujlaki at the women's team foil bronze medal final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, August 16, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Xiaomei Li from China is in the neck bridge to avoid a pin by Inni Merleni from the Ukraine in the women's freestyle 48kg wrestling repechage at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, August 16, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Tonya Verbeek shows her bronze medal in the women's freestyle 55 kilogram competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

China's Qin Kai warms up before the start of the men's 3-meter springboard semifinal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Colin Jenkins of Canada competes in the swimming portion of the men's Triathlon final at the Triathlon venue on Day 11 of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008 in Beijing, China. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

The duet team of Jiang Wenwen and Jiang Tingting of China perform the duet free routine preliminary in synchronized swimming during the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. China placed third with Japan in the preliminaries. - Photo by

Published on August 25, 2008

Australia's forward Penny Taylor reacts after she was injured against the Czech Republic during the third quarter of their women's quarterfinal basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Pre

Published on August 25, 2008

China's Guo Shuang falls during the Track Cycling Women's Sprint race, at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Adam van Koeverden paddles to the win as New Zealand's Steven Ferguson, back, closes in the Kayak Single K1 500M men's heat at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canadian fans cheer as the duet pair of Marie-Pier Boudreau Gagnon and Isabelle Rampling perform the duet free routine preliminary in synchronized swimming during the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Zachary Bell, right, from Whitehorse hands over to Martin Gilbert from Chateauguay, Que. during the men's madison cycle race at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, August 19, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Jason Burnett, from Etobicoke, Ont. holds up his silver medal following competition in the mens trampoline final at the the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China Tuesday, Aug.19, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, right, from Whitby, Ont., competes in the women's 100 meter hurdle final at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, August 19, 2008. Lopes-Schliep won bronze with a time of 12.64 seconds. - Photo by The Canadian Pre

Published on August 25, 2008

The word relax is seen written on the hand of Canada kayak four (K4) team member Genevieve Beauchesne-Sevigny of Trois-Riveres, Que. as she wipes her eyes following her teams 4th place finish in the K4 womens 500 meter semifinal at the Beijing Olympics in

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que. celebrates his silver medal win following the 3 meter diving final at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que. does a twist during his last dive prior to winning the silver medal in the 3 meter diving final at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Riders are airborne during the BMX Men's Quaterfinals run, at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep celebrates winning the bronze medal in the women's 100-meter hurdles during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Pr

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's pitcher Lauren Bay Regula fires a pitch against Australia during the women's softball semi-final at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Wednesday, August 20, 2008. Canada was eliminated losing 5-3 to Australia. - Photo by The Canadian Pr

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Mark Oldershaw of Burlington, Ont. reacts to falling out of his boat at the finish line of the canoe single (C1) 500 meter semifinal at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. Oldershaw finished in 4th place and did not

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Adam van Koeverden of Oakville, Ont. paddles past a photographers boat following his 1st place finish in the kayak single (K1) 500 meter semifinal at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. - Photo By The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

USA's Danielle Scott-Arruda spikes against Cuba during their women's volleyball semifinals match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. USA won the match. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Germany's Ariane Hingst fights for the ball with Japan's Yuki Nagasato, center, during their women's soccer bronze medal match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in China Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Georgia's George Gogshelidze, top, wrestles Cuba's Michel Batista in a bronze medal 96 kilogram freestyle match at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. Gogshelidze won bronze. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Melissa Wu of Australia dives during the Women's 10m Platform Preliminary diving competition during the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Ukraine's Anna Bessonova performs with the rope during the gymnastics rhythmic individual all-around qualification at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's Thomas Hall of Pointe-Claire, Que. celebrates his bronze medal win in the canoe single (C1) 1000 meter final at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Kara Grant, of Canada, left, attacks Qian Chan, of China, during their fencing epee bout in the women's modern pentathlon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Table tennis players eye on the ball during matches at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing between Aug. 13-21, 2007. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Germany's Thomasz Wylenzek, bottom, is assisted by officials after finishing second with Christian Gillie in the canoe double C2 1000M men's race at the Beijing 2008 Olympics Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. Later, Wylenzek was hospitalized because of dehydration.

Published on August 25, 2008

USA Brian Barden throws out Cuba Alexei Bell during a stolen base attempt at second during their baseball game in the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Water flies around Pietro Figlioli of Australia as he takes his turn in a shootout against Italy in a semifinal round classification men's water polo match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. Australia won 17-16. - Photo by The

Published on August 25, 2008

Vincenzo Picardi of Italy, red, fights Somjit Jongjohor of Thailand, blue, during a men's flyweight 51 kilogram semifinal boxing match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Italy's Alex Schwazer reacts after winning the men's 50-kilomter walk during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Bryan Clay of the United States attempts a clearance during the pole vault in the decathlon during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Published on August 25, 2008

Canada's synchronized swimmer Dominika Koipcik is raised by her teammates as they perform their synchonized swimming technical routine at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Friday, August 22, 2008. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Fireworks explode over China's National Stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest", during the closing Ceremony of Beijing Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, August 24, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Fireworks explode over Beijing's Tiananmen Square to help mark the closing of the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008. - Photo By the Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Dancers perform in National Stadium during the closing ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

Canadian athletes celebrate during the closing ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics at the National Stadium, in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on August 25, 2008

A British double-decker bus enters the National Stadium during the closing ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008. - Photo by The Associated Press

Strong finishing kick propels Canada to one of its best showings

Canada hit the gas after a sluggish start in Beijing to produce one of the country's best performances at a Summer Olympiad.

But team officials say if the country aspires to have more than a bit part on the biggest sports stage on the planet, Canadians have to care more about their Olympians with their hearts and wallets.

BEIJING - Canada hit the gas after a sluggish start in Beijing to produce one of the country's best performances at a Summer Olympiad.

But team officials say if the country aspires to have more than a bit part on the biggest sports stage on the planet, Canadians have to care more about their Olympians with their hearts and wallets.

Eighteen medals - three gold, nine silver, six bronze - ties Canada's second-best performance at a non-boycotted Games. The country collected 22 in Atlanta in 1996 and 18 four years prior in Barcelona.

Finishing tied for 14th with Spain in total medals among 204 countries meets the Canadian Olympic Committee's target of a top-16 result.

Top 12 is the goal for 2012 in London. The mood at the COC's closing news conference Sunday was upbeat, but Alex Baumann sounded a cold note on Canada's prospects four years from now.

The former swimming gold medallist, now head of the Road To Excellence initiative, decides which athletes deserve more money based on their performance.

After conversations in Beijing with his equivalents from Australia, Britain and New Zealand, he says top 12 in London isn't realistic at the current rate of funding for the Canadians .

Canada may have committed to spending a record $166 million on summer and winter sport in 2008-09, but the country continues to lag behind the world's elite.

UK Sport has been pumping 100 million pounds (C$195 million) annually into its athletes to field a strong host team in 2012. The Australians' budget of $250 million a year could jump as high as $450 million.

Yet, both teams are getting what they're paying for. Britain jumped from 30 medals in Athens to 47 in Beijing, the fourth-highest total of the Games. Australia was right behind with 46, despite boasting a population of just 21.4 million people.

The ante will be upped for 2012, and Canada was just starting to play catch-up here.

"I do think Canada can get to the top 12 in 2012, but it's going to take a big effort. I do think there is a need for more investment."

As expected, the U.S. and host China took most of the medals off the table with 110 and 100 respectively. China led with 51 gold medals and was thus ranked No. 1 by the International Olympic Committee.

It was a nervous first seven days of the Games for the Canadian team with nary a medal. Wrestlers Carol Huynh of Hazelton, B.C., and Tonya Verbeek of Beamsville, Ont., along with the rowing pair of Scott Frandsen of Kelowna, B.C., and Victoria's Dave Calder, kicked off the country's medal run on the second Saturday of the Games. Huynh won gold, the rowers silver and Verbeek bronze.

The country averaged two medals a day after that. Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont., was Canada's lone multi-medallist with a gold in individual show jumping and a silver in the team event.

A dozen medals four years ago in Athens was Canada's lowest total in 20 years. The country needed to get back on the podium and the athletes did, but the gold-medal count remains flat.

Only once since 1984 has the country won more than three gold medals in a single Summer Games - seven in Barcelona.

"There were a number of events out there where we got a silver and I thought, 'Damnit, just short of the gold,"' COC chief executive officer Chris Rudge said. "Our ultimate objective at some time has to be how many gold medals will we win? We're certainly talking about that a lot more."

Almost every athlete had been to Beijing for training or competition prior to these Games. The COC held seminars for the athletes who heard from former Olympians on how to navigate the minefield of distractions and frustrations at the Games.

The athletes were better supported by the COC here. When a track and field athlete living outside the village faced a commute to the training facility, someone did a dry run for her, timed it and determined the most efficient route.

Meteorologist Doug Charko issued hourly climate updates, so the equestrian team avoided training in Hong Kong when heat and humidity was at its peak.

Canada Olympic House was closed to the public and open only to families of athletes. The reason for that was to ease stress on athletes from how their parents and siblings were faring in a foreign city, Rudge said.

Baumann says he needs to do more analysis to know exactly how much money the Canadian team needs to reach the top 12 in London. The federal government committed in this year's budget to $24 million more annually for RTE to provide extra money to athletes with medal potential.

"We would appeal to Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper to give us the extra $6 million dollars we'd asked for in the last budget," Rudge said. "We'd asked for $30 (million). Let's look at the extra $50 or $60 (million) we're going to need over the next few years to try and build the kinds of programs they've got in Britain and Australia and the United States.

"If we're going to play with the big boys, if we're going to be a G8 nation, let's be G8 at all levels."

Organizations: Canadian Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee, Canada Olympic House

Geographic location: Canada, BEIJING, London Australia Britain Barcelona Atlanta Spain Athens United States China New Zealand Hazelton Beamsville Kelowna Victoria Schomberg Hong Kong

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