Being average might be as good as it gets for Canada at Summer Olympic Games

Jim Morris

Sometimes you need an outside view to put things in perspective.

As the London Summer Olympics draws to an end Canada should reach the Canadian Olympic Committee's objective of finishing among the top 12 countries in medals won. Canada heads into Sunday's final day of competition sitting 12th with 18 medals. There's a lone gold, five silvers and a staggering 12 bronze.

Some Canadians will debate if the performance was good enough, especially considering Own the Podium has spent $36 million a year over the last four years on summer athletes. The results also come on the heels of Canadians winning a record 14 gold and 26 medals to finish third overall at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

[Slideshow: Canadian medal winners]

Luciano Barra, a former Italian member of the International Olympic Committee, thinks Canada's performance in London is about right.

"You're always at the same level in the Summer Games, which is not bad,'' Barra told The Globe and Mail. "Canada has no great tradition in summer sports and it's not easy to win medals at the Summer Games.

"OTP is one of the great programs in the world but you're a winter sport nation. The question now is to keep the level you achieved at the Winter Games.''

Naturally, COC president Marcel Aubut is pleased with Canada's performance.

''It is the most beautiful group of athletes I have ever seen,'' Aubut told the Toronto Sun. "They formed a true team. They gave all they had and often their best performances ever.

"We were sometimes unlucky with the judging but there is little you can do about it during the Games. Sometimes, it felt like 15 times the seventh game of the Stanley Cup. The world's best were competing.''

To rate Canada's performance in London you'd have to call it average.

[Video: Mark de Jong paddles to a bronze]

There were the usual disappointments when people like boxer Mary Spencer and mountain biker Catharine Pendrel missed the podium. There were surprises like high-jumper Derek Drouin and marathon swimmer Richard Weinberger winning bronze medals.

The women's soccer team whipped up national pride by winning the bronze medal after their controversial loss to the U.S. in the semifinal. The biggest heartbreak was the men's 4x100-metre relay team seeing a bronze medal snatched away after being disqualified.

Countries like the Netherlands with 19, Italy 21 and South Korea 27 have all won more medals than Canada. If you use gold medals as a standard, Canada crashes to 34rd on the list behind countries like Cuba (3), Iran (4) and New Zealand (five.) Jamaica has four gold medals, but three of them are from Usian Bolt.

It was originally predicted Canada would need to win around 24 medals to finish in the top 12 so the COC reached its goal with less medals than originally thought.

Four years ago in Beijing Canada finished 14th in medals with 18 (three gold, nine silver, six bronze). In 2004 in Athens Canada was 19th (3-6-3) and in 2000 in Sydney 18th (3-3-8).

Canada's most success at a Summer Olympics was the 44 medals (10- 18-16) won in 1984 at Los Angeles. Those Games carry a huge asterisk because of a boycott by 14 Eastern Bloc nations. Still, Alex Baumann and Victor Davis set world records in the pool while diver Sylvie Bernier set an example by becoming the first woman from Quebec to win an Olympic gold medal.

[Slideshow: Olympics Hall of Shame]

The most medals Canada has ever won at a non-boycotted Games was 22 in 1996. That's the year Donovan Bailey won the 100 metres in a world record time.

For Canada to get better than average at the Summer Games requires more money devoted to summer sports. The debate remains if taxpayers should foot that bill or if corporate Canada needs to pay a bigger role.

"With the globalization of resources, anyone in the world can grab our best coaches, our best physicians, our best physiotherapists,'' Aubut said. "Our work, if Canadian sport is to progress, is to groom the best athletes in the world, especially for the Summer Games.

"For instance, our climate does not favour track and field. So, you need money to compensate, to send our best athletes somewhere else, where they can train and rise among the best.''

Acknowledging the problem for Canada has never been a problem when it comes to the Olympics. Until the question of where the money is coming from is answered, Canada might always be average at the Summer Games.

More London Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Canada Sports:
Usain Bolt denied by Olympic officials
Photos: Blood, sweat and tears at the Olympics
Catharine Pendrel's disappointing day in London
Video: More money could equal more gold for Canada