Canadian Olympic Committee Adds Six Members to its Beijing Team of Olympic Specialists

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced today that it has appointed six individuals to form the second phase of the organization’s Team of Olympic Specialists, a new Games preparation initiative designed to help Canada’s athletes achieve increased podium success at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The COC’s Team of Olympic Specialists is a group of proven Olympic experts who are providing Canada’s summer National Sport Federations and their team of specialists with strategic and tactical information on potential medical, environmental, climatic and coaching challenges that team members may face in the leadup to and in the unique Olympic Games environment.

Among the newest members to the COC’s Team of Olympic Specialists are Olympic coaches Debbie Muir (Calgary, Alta.) and Daniele Sauvageau (Deux-Montagnes, Que.).  Muir and Sauvageau will each serve in the role of Beijing Coach Mentor.  Alain Delorme (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.), Penny Werthner (Ottawa, Ont.) and Caroline Sharp (Carleton Place, Ont.) have also been named to the positions of Beijing Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Beijing Sport Psychologist and Beijing Media Relations Specialist, respectively.

“We are honoured to have a group of such accomplished individuals join the COC.  The appointment of these individuals dramatically strengthens our ability to provide world class support to Canada’s athletes and their ‘pit crew’ of coaches and performance enhancement team members as they strive to reach the podium at the 2008 Olympic Games,” said Caroline Assalian, COC Executive Director, Olympic Preparation and Games.  “This step represents another new initiative that the COC is implementing as a performance partner to Canada’s National Sport Federations.  Come August 8, 2008 we want to know that we have done everything in our power to help athletes convert their international success to Olympic podium finishes.”

The COC also named Michel Leblanc (St-Nicolas, Que.) to the full-time position of COC Manager, Olympic Preparation.  Reporting to Derek Covington, the COC’s Director, Olympic Preparation, Leblanc will work alongside Marnie McBean, COC Manager, Olympic Preparation and three-time Olympic rowing gold medallist, to assist Canada’s National Sport Federations in developing and implementing customized Olympic Podium Performance Preparation programs for the Olympic Games.

Leblanc has spent the past two years as the National Mountain Bike Coach for the Canadian Cycling Association.  During the course of his 12-year coaching career, Leblanc has consistently helped Canada’s cycling athletes reach the podium on the international stage.  Among his most notable accomplishments, Leblanc coached Marie-Hélène Prémont to a silver medal in cycling’s cross country event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

In the role of Beijing Coach Mentor, Muir and Sauvageau will lead and mentor Canada’s Olympic coaches to assist them in realizing their athletes’ podium objectives for the 2008 Olympic Games.  This includes providing strategic information on how to deal with unique challenges, pressures, stresses and distractions as well as tips on effective Games-time coaching practices.

Muir is one of Canada’s most accomplished coaches.  In 1988, she coached Carolyn Waldo and Michelle Cameron to the solo and duet gold medals in synchronized swimming at the Olympic Games in Seoul.  Four years earlier, she guided Waldo, Sharon Hambrook and Kelly Kryczka-Irwin to silver medals in the solo and duet events at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.   From 1978 to 1986, Muir coached Canadian athletes to seven World Championship titles.

Apart from her work with synchronized swimmers, Muir has also served as a specialized technical training consultant to 1992 Olympic gold medallist Mark Tewksbury.  In addition, she has served as an advisor to several high performance coaches throughout Canada and has worked internationally as a consultant in Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Sauvageau is a former head coach with the Canadian women’s hockey team.  During her tenure behind the bench, she led Team Canada to its first ever gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, a silver medal at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games and four consecutive World Championship titles from 1994 to 2001.  Sauvageau has participated in two Pan American Games and five Olympic Games as a coach, general manager and mentor coach to different sport organizations, and was the first woman to coach in the Canadian Junior Hockey League. In 2000, she founded DS.Communications, a firm that provides strategic organizational, leadership and coaching services to business leaders and high performance coaches . She is also a member of Coaches of Canada board of directors.

Dr. Werthner has represented Canada as a sport psychologist at five Olympic Games, including the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and the 2004 Olympic Games, and has worked with Canada’s canoe/kayak, freestyle skiing, curling, speed skating and water polo athletes.

Prior to entering the field of sport psychology, Dr. Werthner competed as a member of the national athletics team from 1970 to 1981.  Among her career highlights, Dr. Werthner represented Canada at the 1976 Olympic Games and captured a bronze medal in the 1,500-metre event at both the 1979 Pan American Games and the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Delorme is the co-owner of Actiforme Consultants and has provided strength and conditioning advice to Canadian athletes competing in boxing, diving, handball, rowing, short-track speed skating, swimming, synchronized swimming, taekwondo and water polo.  He is also a Team Leader and Coordinator with the National Multisport Centre–Montreal where he works extensively with alpine skiing, badminton, hockey and rowing athletes.

Sharp previously served as Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Volleyball Canada from 1998 to 2007.  In her role with the organization, Sharp was responsible for the overall management of Volleyball Canada including sport development.  She has served as a media attaché for the Canadian team at the 2000, 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games and the recent 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As a Beijing Media Specialist, Sharp will serve as a resource to Canada’s summer National Sport Federations and assist them in developing their communications plans for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The first phase of the COC’s Olympic Specialist Team was announced in November 2006 and featured the appointments of Dr. Robert McCormack (New Westminster, B.C.), Stephen King (Lennoxville, Que.) and Mélanie Olivier (Montreal, Que.) to the positions of Chief Medical Officer, Chief Therapist and Performance Nutritionist, respectively. The COC also named Dr. Jon Kolb (Calgary, Alta.) to the role of Environmental Physiologist and Doug Charko (Regina, Sask.) to the position of Meteorologist.