The search for future Canadian Olympians came to Kelowna Friday.
The RBC Training Ground event, at the Capital News Centre, put 100 young local athletes aged 14 to 25 through tests of their speed, power, strength and endurance.
With representatives of 14 national sport organizations on hand, the search was on for athletes who could one day represent Canada at the Winter or Summer Olympic Games.
Ellissa Alarie, RBC co-ordinator with the the Canadian Sport Institute in B.C. said the Kelowna event, one of six held across the province and 30 across the country, was looking to help not only the sport organizations find athletes but also the athletes themselves.
“We’re very excited,” she said. “Some athletes are already on a pathway within a sport, but there are also some athletes who are just having some fun with sports. They may have some abilities (and) they don’t know which sport would be best suited for them.”
That’s where the representatives of the 14 sport partners, including Canada Snowboard, Canada Basketball, Cross Country Ski Canada, Wrestling Canada and Speed Skating Canada will join returning partners Athletics Canada, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Canoe Kayak Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada, Freestyle Canada, Judo Canada and Water Polo Canada, came in.
They were keeping an eye out for athletes who have abilities suited to their particular sports. If they did, an invitation was extended to the athlete trying their sport.
One young athlete, Hailey Wright, said she participated after her mom signed her up to see if there were other sports she may excel at.
The 16-year-old soccer player who attends KSS, said she was having fun.
“I’m excited to be here,” said Wright.
The program to find future Olympians mirrors similar ones in other countries and has been operating in Canada for just the last three years, although there have been similar attempts in years past. So it’s measure of success is still a ways off in terms of finding the next generation of athletes to represent Canada.
But for the young athletes who participated, there was encouragement in the form of actual medal-winning Olympians on hand.
Team Canada cyclist Laura Brown, who said she would have loved to have had such a program like Training Ground when she was starting out, brought her Olympic medal along to show the youngsters.
Along with Allison Beveridge, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay and Georgia Simmerling, Brown won the bronze medal in cycling team pursuit in 2016 at the Rio Summer Olympic Games.
Also on hand was another Team Canada cycling star, Meghan Grant. Grant won gold in the team pursuit at the 2017 Pan American Track Cycling Championship.
But it’s not just on a bike where Grant excels. An emergency room doctor in Vancouver, she also reached the final four per cent of candidates looking to become one of Canada’s next astronauts.
She also had praise for the Training Ground program noting the sport one starts out in, is not necessarily the one in which an athlete may excel later in life.
She said she started in gymnastics as a child before moving to cycling.
The top 100 performers from the six B.C. Training Ground combines will be invited to a regional final in Richmond in April or begin further testing with specific sports.
In addition to training support from a national sport organization the athlete may not have considered, top performers also win “Future Olympian” financial support from RBC.
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