Canada’s Chef de Mission at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Todd Nicholson, has been appointed chair of Own the Podium, the independent sport technical agency announced on Monday.
Nicholson understands leadership both on and off the field of play. In addition to guiding Canada’s Paralympic Team to a record-setting, 28-medal performance in PyeongChang, Korea, the five-time Paralympian was team captain of Canada’s National Para Hockey Team for 15 years during a career that spanned more than two decades and was highlighted by three Paralympic medals: gold (2006), silver (1998), and bronze (1994).
“Todd is a very well-respected leader with the major players in the Canadian sport community, and understands what it takes to achieve excellence,” said Anne Merklinger, chief executive officer, Own the Podium. “He is a proven performer in sport and in the boardroom, is generous with his time volunteering to countless initiatives, and he is driven to succeed. We are privileged to have Todd leading our mission of helping Canadian athletes reach and remain atop the podium in Olympic and Paralympic competition.”
An elite athlete in a number of summer sports including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, triathlon, duathlon, marathons in addition to para hockey, Nicholson’s volunteer contributions advocating for the participation and inclusion of all people in their communities is equally impressive.
A para hockey coach at both local and national levels of competition, he has been an inspiration to young Canadians and aspiring athletes – both able-bodied and those who live, work and play with disabilities of all kinds. He has served as chair for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes’ Council, was a governing board member for the IPC, and also served as the IPC Athlete Representative to the International Olympic Committee.
“I’m extremely proud and honoured to carry the torch for OTP while working with our partners at the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee in an effort to lead Canada to more Olympic and Paralympic podium performances,” said Nicholson, who takes over from John Furlong – the first-ever chair of Own the Podium.
“Canadian athletes are coming off record-setting performances at the last two Games, but we cannot stop here. We must continue to challenge ourselves, embrace change, take risks and seek opportunities to be even better on the global stage leading towards Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022.”
Nicholson, who became a director with Own the Podium in 2015, will chair a new-look Board of Directors that will lead the organization’s future, including: Araba Chintoh, Rob Hatch, John Mills, Sue Paish, and Tara Whitten. They will be joined by returning Board members Therese Brisson, Chris Clark, and Duncan Fulton.
“We have a great group of board members, both new and old, who have been involved in the sporting community for some time but also are connected to the nation’s business community,” said Nicholson. “All of us, and the OTP staff, our national team coaches, athletes, and administrators are focused on success. In my role, I want to help drive the best-practices and considerable knowledge that exists across our organization and the Canadian sporting community to ensure we are supporting our athletes with the right tools and best practices that will allow them to reach the podium nationally, and internationally.”