The number of bronze medals Canada has won at London Games begs some questions

It's an argument that can cut both ways.

Of the 17 medals Canadian athletes won at the London Olympic Games heading into Saturday, 11 of them were bronze. Canada also had a lone gold and five silver medals.

Does that mean Canadians are just good enough to win a medal or not good enough to take the next step up the podium? Will things improve in four years or is this as good as it gets?

[Slideshow: Canadian medal winners]

There's no doubt that being third in the world at the Olympics is an achievement. But with Own the Podium spending $36 million a year over the last four years on summer athletes you can question if third is enough of a return on the investment.

Anne Merklinger, chief executive officer of OTP, said the variety of sports involved at a Summer Olympics spreads the funding thin. The number of countries attending a Summer Games also increases the competition.

"The investment in summer sports is still relatively short,'' Merklinger said in an interview prior to the Games. "Do I think that we will have a positive affect on the performance in London. Yes.

[Related: London Games a goodbye to the Olympics for some Canadian athletes]

"Is there still a lot of work to be done? There's no doubt about it.''

Some of the bronze medals will be a learning experience for athletes at future Games. For others, the medal is a swan song.

Jennifer Abel, 20, won bronze in the three-metre synchronized diving with the retiring Emilie Heymans. She will be back for another Games. So will Roseline Filion, 25, and Meaghan Benfeito, 23, who won bronze in the platform synchro. Richard Weinberger, 22, took bronze in the marathon swim in just his first Games.

At the other end of the scale, a bronze in the 100-metre freestyle was a fitting end for 28-year-old swimmer Brent Hayden's career.

[More: Canadian women's soccer faces challenges if they hope for World Cup success]

The 17 medals Canada has won are fairly evenly split with women taking nine and men eight.

Rosie MacLennan, a 23-year-old from King City, Ont., is the only gold medallist, winning in trampoline.

Women have won six bronze medals and men five. Men have taken two silver and women one.

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