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More than 100 Ontario athletes vying for gold at London Olympics

There are 118 Ontario athletes vying for a top spot on the podium at the London Olympics, 90 of whom have received funding from the provincial government’s ‘Quest for Gold’ program.  

Among them is kayaker Adam Van Koeverden, who has won three Olympic medals; and boxer Mary Spencer, who will be competing in the first-ever Olympic women’s boxing event.

Athletes are encouraged to live and train in Ontario, as part of the Quest for Gold funding program. Van Koeverden trains at the Burloak Canoe Club in Oakville, while Spencer trains in Windsor.

The Quest for Gold program is funded by the Quest for Gold lottery. The money raised compensates athletes for earnings lost while training, helps athletes access high-performance coaches and enhances training and competitive opportunities available to athletes.

Coxswain Brian Price won gold with the men’s eight rowing team in Beijing in 2008. After the Beijing Games, he took a two-year break and credits the program with helping him focus.

“Quest for Gold funding helps me to stay focused on what is most important; training for excellence.  I have been proud to represent Ontario and Canada since 1998. It is with financial assistance from partners, such as Quest for Gold that I can continue compete with the best in the world with confidence,” Price said in a statement.

Four years ago, Team Canada won 18 medals, three of them gold, in Beijing. In Toronto, hopes were high that this year’s squad would return with a similar haul.

“I’m looking forward to all of our Canadian athletes winning a lot of medals,” pub owner Spiros Liarakos said.

The London Olympics opening ceremony began at 9 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT) on Friday. The competition runs until Aug. 12.

On the national level, the Own the Podium (OTP) program was extended after the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver to help increase Canada’s medal haul. OTP believes a top-12 finish is achievable for Team Canada in London.