Updated: January 23, 2013 3:31 PM | By Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

Athletics Canada fires Gardiner, Goulet



Athletics Canada has fired its two top coaches.

Head coach Alex Gardiner and chief high performance officer Martin Goulet were let go by track and field's national governing body Wednesday on the heels of Canada's disappointing performance at last summer's London Olympics.

"I think now especially with dollars being involved, there's accountability and there are performance expectations," Athletics Canada's CEO Rob Guy said in a phone interview from his Ottawa office. "Really we're in the performance business, we have objectives for performance, and just like anybody else, we need to meet them.

"We get a lot of money to attempt to win medals, and when we don't do that, we need to look at ways as to how we get better."

Canada had set a target of three athletics medals in London but fell short, coming away with just one — Derek Drouin's bronze in high jump.

Canada's 4x100-metre relay team briefly celebrated what they thought was a bronze medal in London before they were disqualified after Jared Connaughton stepped on the line on the third leg.

Canada's Paralympic track and field team brought home nine medals, missing its target of 14.

Goulet received the news upon his return from vacation, and said it came as a big blow.

Goulet, a coach for 36 years and a full-time Athletics Canada employee for 12, said it's difficult to gauge performance based solely on medals, and noted top-eight finishes show Canada has progressed in the sport.

"We are in the high performance business and I certainly accept that," Goulet said. "Everybody who knows me knows how passionate I am about high performance. . . some people have even compared me to a pitbull sometimes.

"I have given my heart and my brain to high performance over the last few years. I'm ready to take the verdict. I'm going to turn the page. Looking forward to some new things."

Goulet said he's excited to spend some time with his 16 year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

Gardiner preferred not to comment when reached by The Canadian Press.

The Winnipeg native was Canada's head coach at the 2004 Athens Olympics then left Athletics Canada to work for the Canadian Olympic Committee. He returned to Athletics Canada in 2008.

Guy hopes to have a head coach in place by mid-March, with the aim being a "different style and leadership structure."

"The person needs to be able to communicate effectively with the coaches, to motivate coaches, just to create a culture of performance," Guy said. "Maybe sometimes the message gets a little stale when people have been there for a long time."

The team is targeting two medals at this summer's world championships in Moscow, and 10 medals at the Paralympic world championships.

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