Anne Merklinger, whose impressive career in high-performance sport spans more than four decades as an athlete and leader, has been named to a key leadership position for high-performance sport in Canada as the chief executive officer of Own the Podium, chairman John Furlong announced Thursday on behalf of the organization’s Board of Directors.
Merklinger, who has been Own the Podium’s director of summer sport since October of 2009, has been immersed in Canada’s summer high-performance culture while working closely with Own the Podium’s sport advisors, technical specialists along with the national sport organizations, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Sport Canada and the private sector
“Anne is an extraordinary Canadian talent whose athletic background, business acumen and leadership skills bring immense value to our organization. She was a natural choice to lead us to the next level” ”,” said John Furlong, chair, Own the Podium. “Anne has played a critical role in positioning Canadian athletes for London as OTP’s director of summer sport, and I have no doubt she will continue to focus her leadership on helping ensure Canada’s high-performance sport culture remains focused on excellence and Olympic success well into the future.”
“I would like to extend my congratulations to Anne Merklinger on being named chief executive officer of Own the Podium,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “With Anne at the helm, I am confident about the future of high-performance sport in Canada, and I look forward to working alongside her.”
In addition to her work with Own the Podium, Merklinger brings 20 years of executive management experience with national sport organizations including CanoeKayak Canada, the Commission for Inclusion of Athletes with a Disability and the Canadian Federation of Sport Organizations for the Disabled. Merklinger is also on the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Canada.
An athlete for most of her life, Merklinger was a member of Canada’s national swim team from 1977-81 where she earned a silver medal at the 1979 World University Games in the 200-metre breaststroke. Following her stint in the pool, Merklinger focused her athletic career on the curling rink where she consistently ranked as one of Canada’s most distinguished women’s curlers. Merklinger led her team to two Scott Tournament of Hearts finals.
“ I will be a tireless advocate for excellence in working with the professionals at Own the Podium and sport leaders across the country who possess invaluable experience in sport,” said Merklinger, chief executive officer, Own the Podium. “While our mission remains the same we have significant challenges ahead of us to achieve and sustain our goal of being a world-leading nation in Olympic and Paralympic sport.”
Merklinger replaces Alex Baumann who announced in September he was stepping down as chief executive officer to relocate his family to New Zealand where he will begin his new position as chief executive officer for High-Performance Sport New Zealand on January 31.
Own the Podium will immediately launch a national search to fill the director of summer sport position left vacant with Merklinger’s promotion. A transition plan will be implemented that provides priority focus and support during the final preparation phase for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Additional Quotes from Canadian Sport Partners
Canadian Olympic Committee – Marcel Aubut, President
“Anne Merklinger is a true leader and utmost expert of Canadian sport. She has followed up a distinguished athletic career with an equally impressive resume as a national sports executive. She is a solid choice to lead the Own The Podium program into the future. The Canadian Olympic Committee looks forward to working with Anne and her colleagues at OTP in order to continue supporting the best our country has to offer, our Canadian athletes.”
Canadian Paralympic Committee – Henry Storgaard, President
“On behalf of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, we’d like to warmly welcome Anne to her new role and celebrate her appointment today,” said Henry Storgaard, chief executive officer, Canadian Paralympic Committee. “Anne’s exceptional expertise will no doubt help us continue to nurture and grow the Paralympic movement in Canada, as we work towards the goal of becoming the world’s leading Paralympic nation.”
B2ten – JD Miller
Anne has doggedly pursued the participation of the private sector as another leg on which to build Canadian sport excellence” said B2ten’s JD Miller. “In these times of economic uncertainty, Anne’s purposeful approach to high performance is well suited to underpin success.”
About Own the Podium
Own the Podium is a national sport technical initiative that was created in 2005 to help Canada become the number one nation (total medal count) at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and to place in the top-three nations (gold medal count) at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. While Canada’s winter-sport athletes remain committed to finishing number one overall at the Olympic Winter Games, the initiative has also set a goal for Canadian athletes to have a top-12 placing at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games and to be in the top-eight nations in gold-medal count at the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games. Both of these initiatives reflect what Canadians want from Canada’s high-performance athletes and helps advance the “excellence” goal of the Canadian Sport Policy. Own the Podium’s largest contributor of funding is the Government of Canada with additional funding provided by the corporate community and the Canadian Olympic Committee through its Canadian Olympic Foundation.
For a full summary of Own the Podium initiatives and programs, including breakdown of support and services by sport, please visit us at www.ownthepodium.org on the Internet.