Media spotlight hard for Canadian athletes to hold

Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:17pm EST
 
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canadian medal winners should bask in the media spotlight because it will fade sooner than if they were European athletes, the chief executive of Canada's Olympic Committee said on Wednesday.

Athletes like Alexandre Bilodeau and Maelle Ricker became instant Canadian heroes at the Vancouver Games by winning gold on home soil, prompting talk of their marketing potential.

"They're in the spotlight now and I hope they capture the moment while it's hot because they tend not to have as long a shelf life as in countries in Europe," Chris Rudge said at a press conference.

According to Rudge, Canadian Olympic athletes find it harder staying in the spotlight because they must compete for it with athletes in other professional sports like hockey. He also added that most of their competitions are outside North America.

The Canadian Olympic Committee said it is working on ways to increase publicity for Olympic athletes and amateur sports between Olympic Games when they are often ignored by the media.

Bob Barney, co-director of International Center for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario, disagrees that Canadian athletes have it tougher than Europeans.

"These people become icons in their country no matter where it is," Barney said in an interview, noting that European athletes also have to compete for publicity with a range of professional sports.

(Editing by Frank Pingue.)

 
<p>Canada's gold medalist in men's moguls freestyle skiing, Alexandre Bilodeau, poses during the presentation ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 15, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Helgren</p>