Visa Canada

Visa Canada

November 10, 2005 11:30 ET

Kurt Browning, Nathalie Lambert and Ian Balfour Give Boost to Torino Hopefuls Through Team Visa Program

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 10, 2005) -

Attention: Sports and Business Editors

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available on the CP picture wire via CCNMatthews.

Team Visa mentoring program gives eight amateur athletes opportunity to learn from some of Canada's best

The Team Visa 2006 roster was announced today by Visa Canada, adding six Olympic and two Paralympic hopefuls to the unique Olympic sponsorship program. World-class athletes Kurt Browning, Nathalie Lambert and Ian Balfour will serve as mentors for eight aspiring amateur athletes as they work towards their goal of representing Canada at the 2006 Torino Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The following athletes have been selected to become part of Team Visa:

- Colette Bourgonje (Nordic Skiing & Wheelchair Track Paralympian)

- Emily Brydon (Alpine Skiing)

- Jeffrey Buttle (Figure Skating)

- Jeff Christie (Luge)

- Deidra Dionne (Freestyle Skiing Aerials)

- Danielle Goyette (Women's Ice Hockey)

- Clara Hughes (Speed Skating)

- Brian McKeever (Nordic Skiing Paralympian)

These athletes join Brent Hayden (Swimming), Nicole Forrester (High jump), Myriam Boileau (Diving) and Jody Holden (Beach Volleyball) as members of Team Visa. In addition to bringing on new athletes, Visa is also expanding the number of mentors on the team. Joining Bruny Surin, the mentor for Team Visa 2004, are Olympians Kurt Browning, Nathalie Lambert and Paralympian Ian Balfour.

Team Visa athletes were selected based on their sporting achievements and the work that they do to improve their community or their sport. The mentors for Team Visa 2006 also exemplify these values and are highly recognized for their contribution to society.

"We've taken our Olympic and Paralympic sponsorships to a new level with the Team Visa program," said Brenda Woods, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, Visa Canada. "We applaud the dedication and effort of these amateur athletes, not only in the work they undertake to excel in their sport but also in their endeavors to improve their communities."

Because Visa understands that training for the Games is in itself a full-time job, Team Visa offers Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls a support network via their "team" and mentors, in addition to assistance in the form of direct financial support for their training expenses.

"We at Visa realize that support on their journey to Torino should go beyond just training and financial support. Visa is committed to supporting the whole athlete, and the Team Visa program helps us bring this to life," adds Woods.

Team Visa is a long-term program

As a long-time sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Visa recognizes that athletes need support both in Olympic and non-Olympic Games years. Visa will therefore continue to support all Team Visa athletes in the years both leading up to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Athletes who plan to continue competing in the Games will remain as members of Team Visa, while those who are no longer looking to compete will become Team Visa ambassadors. Athletes from the inaugural Team Visa who will stay on as members are Brent Hayden, Myriam Boileau and Nicole Forrester, while Jody Holden and Team Visa mentor Bruny Surin will become Team Visa ambassadors.

Team Visa prepares athletes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games

The members of Team Visa met yesterday for an intensive team-building orientation day, which included sessions with a sports psychologist, financial management expert and of course Olympic and Paralympic veterans (Team Visa mentors). In the months to come, Team Visa mentors will be available by phone, email and in-person to play a pivotal role in helping these eight athletes get ready for the challenges they will face during their preparation for the Games, as well as their time in Torino.

In the coming months, Browning, Lambert and Balfour will help Team Visa athletes come up with solutions to challenging questions like:

- "How do I mentally prepare for the biggest challenge of my athletic career?"

- "How can I develop a more confident mindset as I'm recovering from an injury?"

- "How will I focus on my performance in Torino when there is so much noise, media attention and pressure?"

- "How do I continue my commitment to giving back to my sport and community, while training for the Games?"

"I am proud to be a Team Visa mentor," said Kurt Browning, three-time Olympian and a Team Visa 2006 mentor. "Nathalie, Ian and I are all committed to supporting these outstanding athletes who have invested the time to make their communities better places, to develop their respective sports and to inspire us all. Team Visa is a unique and important program because it not only addresses the financial needs of Canadian amateur athletes, but it also recognizes the benefits that athletes at the elite level can gain from speaking to someone who's 'been there' and can share those experiences."

Team Visa first launched in Canada in 2004, to help Canadian athletes prepare for their journey to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Since those early days when Team Visa consisted of four Olympic hopefuls and one mentor, Team Visa 2006 has expanded to include six Olympic and two Paralympic hopefuls, along with three world-class athletes who will serve as their mentors. All members of Team Visa were selected by the 2006 Team Visa Advisory Committee, consisting of sports media, representatives from Visa and the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Team Visa mentors. Visa will continue to expand the Team Visa program, and will continue to support all Team Visa members throughout this time.

Since 1988, Visa has remained a committed supporter of the Olympic Movement and was the first TOP sponsor to extend its sponsorship into the 2012 Olympic Games. Visa is committed to supporting amateur athletes through its worldwide sponsorship of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, its support of the Canadian men's and women's bobsleigh and skeleton teams and through further expansion of Team Visa.

About Visa Canada

As the "World's Best Way to Pay®," the VISA® brand is the leading payment brand in the world. Twenty-one thousand financial institutions worldwide rely on Visa's processing system, VisaNet®, to facilitate $3 trillion (USD) in annual transaction volume with virtually 100 per cent reliability. Visa has unsurpassed global acceptance at more than 24 million locations including more than one million ATMs. Within Canada, 25 Member financial institutions have issued 25 million VISA cards, accounting for $136 billion in annual sales volume in 2004. For more information, visit www.visa.ca.



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