Athletes ages 14-25 had the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of Olympic talent scouts at Kelowna’s UBCO gymnasium on Saturday.
The RBC Training Ground program aims to challenge young athletes as they go through a variety of physical tests, to see if they have what it takes to represent their country on the world stage.
“We’re doing some sprints, endurance and some strength (tests), just to try and collect some data on the athletes that we will share with the department of sports, in the hopes that we can find some future Olympians,” explained RBC Training Grounds Manager, Andrew Latham.
While being selected to represent Canada at the Olympics may seem like a daunting task, this event has a history of success stories, as it’s selected and funded seven Canadian Olympic medalists, and put hundreds more into Canada’s Olympic talent spotlight.
“Since 2016, we’ve tested 12,000 athletes, and 1,500 of them have moved on to the next level,” said Latham.
“At the last cycle of Olympics, we had five medals won in the summer and three in the winter, so, it finds Olympians, but it also finds medal winners.”
Among the athletes competing was Lake Country resident, Brandon Harder, who had no idea the event was being hosted until it had already begun. He quickly prepared himself, saying the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“Just that slight chance that you could be recruited, it’s just once in a lifetime and so that’s one thing I just didn’t want to pass up, and I had some spare time, so I shot myself down here and it’s been a great experience,” explained participant Brandon Harder.
Meanwhile, for other athletes like Gabby Armstrong, it’s been her life-long dream to compete in the Olympics.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics to represent Canada, so right now, I’m just trying to figure out what sport,” said Armstrong.
“This is such a great opportunity – seeing if we have the potential to compete with the best.”
Following the conclusion of Saturday’s event, the results will be sent to the National Sports Organization, where they will be analyzed, and any athletes whose numbers stand out may be contacted for possible further testing and training.
One athletic supporter with BC Rugby says she was impressed with some of the talent on display, but she wants to remind all participants that there is always room to improve.
“As a coach, I always tell kids to ‘control the things you can control’,” explained BC Rugby representative, Leana Marton.
“So, if you were disappointed by a certain score, then that’s maybe an opportunity to dig deep and train harder. Never give up on your dream.”
Across Canada, up to 30 athletes per year may also receive assistance such as funding, resources and coaching, as well as support from RBC and the Canadian Olympic Foundation.