Own the Podium Names Mark Hahto as New Director of Summer Sport

Former SwimBC Executive Director Joins Own The Podium
April, 16, 2012

Mark Hahto (left) with 2012 Olympic Swim Team coach, Tom Johnson © Swimming Canada

OTTAWA—Mark Hahto, whose impressive career in high-performance summer sport spans three decades as a coach, team manager and member of Swimming Canada’s executive management team, has been named director of summer sport for Own the Podium, the world-leading organization focused on helping Canadian athletes win more Olympic and Paralympic medals announced on Monday.

Hahto, who served as SwimBC's Executive Director from 2003 to 2007 before joining Swimming Canada as it's Chief Operating Officer, brings 10 years of management experience with international, national and provincial swimming organizations to his new role at Own the Podium. The chief operating officer at Swimming Canada since 2007, Hahto moved into the management side of sport as executive director of Swim B.C. after spending more than two decades on the pool deck working in a variety of coaching roles with athletes across the country from the grassroots to elite level.
“Mark is an exceptional talent whose background in working with elite athletes, business acumen and strategic leadership skills bring immense value to Own the Podium as we continue to deliver the resources Canadian athletes need to excel against the world’s best,” said Anne Merklinger, chief executive officer, Own the Podium. “Mark will be counted on to play an integral role in developing the critical relationships required for Canada’s summer sport organizations, coaches and athletes, to develop more podium performers.”
As chief operating officer of Swimming Canada, Hahto played a lead role in the development and implementation of the national body's audacious Vision 2020 strategic plan, with a mandate to be amongst the top-six medal producing swimming nations at both the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
“We are very excited for Mark in his new venture. He will be dearly missed at Swimming Canada, but our loss is a tremendous gain to the whole sporting community,” said Pierre Lafontaine, chief executive officer/national coach, Swimming Canada. “When Canada wins, swimming wins.”
A passionate, decisive and pragmatic leader, Hahto will now immerse himself in the summer high-performance culture while working closely with Own the Podium’s sport advisors, technical specialists along with the national sport governing bodies and Sport Canada. As director of summer sports, Hahto will also bring funding recommendations to the senior management team, lead annual reviews, and develop new policies and programs designed to achieve excellence at the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. 
“Working in Canada’s sport system, I have always believed in Own the Podium’s uncompromising mandate of excellence,” said Hahto. “Led by the vision of its highly-respected Board of Directors, I am excited to have the opportunity to work with a dynamic team of individuals who share a powerful vision to shape the culture of sport in Canada.”
Hahto, who will begin his new role on June 1, replaces Anne Merklinger who was announced as Own the Podium’s new chief executive officer in January. Working with Merklinger and Own the Podium’s summer sport high-performance advisors, Hahto will focus his time on enabling Canada’s national sport organization’s to fully deliver on their final preparation plans leading to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in London. He will also begin developing an evaluation framework around London.
About Own the Podium
Own the Podium is a national sport technical initiative that was created in 2005 to help Canada become the number one nation (total medal count) at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and to place in the top-three nations (gold medal count) at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. While Canada’s winter-sport athletes remain committed to finishing number one overall at the Olympic Winter Games, the initiative has also set a goal for Canadian athletes to have a top-12 placing at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games and to be in the top-eight nations in gold-medal count at the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games. Both of these initiatives reflect what Canadians want from Canada’s high-performance athletes and helps advance the “excellence” goal of the Canadian Sport Policy. Own the Podium’s largest contributor of funding is the Government of Canada with additional funding provided by the corporate community and the Canadian Olympic Committee through its Canadian Olympic Foundation.