Cross-country, year-long search for new Olympic talent culminates with 100 prospects gathering in Calgary to compete for funding and the chance to chase Olympic dream
TORONTO, Aug. 26, 2019 /CNW/ - RBC Training Ground, a program dedicated to identifying and supporting Canada's future Olympians, announced on Monday the names of 100 young athletes invited to its first-ever National Final to be held in Calgary.
Earlier this year nearly 2,000 athletes from across the country participated in one of 30 RBC Training Ground qualifying events. The athletes, with a wide range of sporting backgrounds, tested their speed, power, strength and endurance to see if they might be suited for an Olympic sport.
The 100 athletes named will now compete for funding and a spot on one of eight partner National Sport Organization (NSO) teams at the RBC Training Ground National Final on September 14 in Calgary. Based on their results, up to 30 top-performing athletes will officially be selected as RBC 'Future Olympians' – receiving funding and resources to pursue their Olympic dreams.
The complete list of athletes invited to the 2019 RBC Training Ground National Final as well as the list of 2019 NSO partners are available at RBCTrainingGround.ca.
"The RBC Training Ground National final is a unique opportunity for young, high-potential athletes discovered at this year's local events to earn support and start their Olympic journey," said Matt McGlynn, Vice-President, Brand Marketing, RBC. "At RBC we are very proud to support our Canadian Olympic athletes at every stage of their careers."
Olympic champions Justin Kripps (bobsleigh), Patrick Chan (figure skating) and Penny Oleksiak (swimming) will be on site in Calgary to encourage the participants. They will be joined by Tokyo 2020 bound athletes Melissa Humana-Paredes (beach volleyball) and Jennifer Abel (diving).
Kelsey Mitchell (track cycling), a Tokyo 2020 hopeful, got her start in cycling after attending a local Edmonton RBC Training Ground event in 2018. A former varsity soccer player at the University of Alberta, Mitchell was recently crowned Pan American champion at Lima 2019 as the cycling rookie won gold in women's sprint and set a Pan American Games record along the way. She also raced to silver in the women's team sprint, narrowly missing gold.
"If it wasn't for RBC Training Ground, I would have never tried track cycling," said Mitchell. "This program introduced me to an entirely new sport and it has completely changed my life. I went from working full-time for Stathcona County in Alberta, to training full-time with the national team at Cycling Canada and travelling around the world. Recently, I competed at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, where I walked away with a gold and silver medal. None of this would have happened without RBC Training Ground."
Dedicated to finding and supporting the next generation of Canadian Olympians, RBC Training Ground has tested more than 7,000 athletes at 98 free local events in 35 different Canadian communities. Since 2016, RBC has provided $1.3 million in support to 87 different athletes identified through RBC Training Ground. RBC Training Ground events are free, and open to any athlete between the ages of 14 and 25.
"It's quite impressive to see how much the Training Ground program has grown over a short period of time," said David Shoemaker, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee. "Every year the program seems to identify high-performance athletes that are capable of representing Canada at the highest level. Just last month at Lima 2019, we saw Kelsey Mitchell, who discovered track cycling through Training Ground, win two medals. Today we can call her a Pan American champion and record holder. RBC's commitment and innovative approach to identifying talent is a shining example of how the private sector positively impacts our sport system – and the athletes now see that. The fact that high-profile athletes want to attend and support the first-ever Training Ground Final is a true testament to the legitimacy of the program as a pipeline for Canada's future Olympians."
Founded in 2016, RBC Training Ground was developed in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Olympic Foundation, CBC Sports, and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network.
"The RBC Training Ground National Final is the exciting culmination of the year-long search for Canada's future Olympians," said Chris Wilson, Executive Director, Sports and Olympics, CBC. "CBC Sports is delighted to help introduce Canadians to some of the country's future athletic stars, as well as reacquaint them with Olympic champions, through broadcast and online coverage of this anticipated event."
Detailed explanations of the testing process, athlete progress reports and registration/event information for all local RBC Training Ground events is available at RBCTrainingGround.ca.
For further information: Media contacts: Brianne Sommerville, Senior Manager, Brand Communications, RBC, 437-228-5396, [email protected]; Josh Su, Specialist, Public Relations, Canadian Olympic Committee, 647-464-4060, [email protected]