Paddler Andrew Russell proudly represented Canada at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, competing in Men’s C2-1000m with dedication and passion. Fast forward to 2016, and Andrew is a retired Olympian, but he loved the Olympic spirit so much he created a competition for Canadians to experience it.
The live competition, called FANFIT, is back for its fourth year in 2017. “I thought there was a big gap where regular Canadians were missing the athleticism and the awesomeness of how [Olympic] athletes train and compete on a daily level,” Andrew says.
Canadians can now register to complete the same series of athletic testing events as high-performance athletes – such as the five-minute plank and agility tests. “Our event lets everyone take on tests that would be done by the highest level Olympians; it’s like a Team Canada tryout in a day.”
Through his relationship with the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic, he was able to add a layer of competition: those completing the challenge go head-to-head with some of Canada’s top high-performance and Olympic athletes at the venue. In 2015, FANFIT’s second year, Andrew named the COF as the charitable beneficiary. “I wanted our event to align closer with the Olympic movement.”
This year, RBC is joining FANFIT as title sponsor; through this partnership, registration for FANFIT is now free of charge. Entry is now open for all three 2017 events—Hamilton, Ont. (January 28, 2017), Halifax (March 11, 2017) and Vancouver (April 1, 2017). Additional fundraising will support the Canadian Olympic Foundation and our next generation of Olympians.
In addition to Andrew, other Olympians committed to giving back to the next generation will be participating at FANFIT 2017. Four-time Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden (sprint kayak) and London 2012 bronze medallist Mark Oldershaw (canoe) will take part in Hamilton; two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane (swimming) and multi-sport Olympian and medallist Georgia Simmerling (alpine, ski cross and track cycling) in Vancouver; and London 2012 silver medallist Mark de Jonge (sprint kayak) in Halifax. Follow FANFIT on Twitter for more athlete appearance announcements.
Since 2015, FANFIT has raised over $50,000 to help fund future Canadian Olympians. The money goes toward providing athletes with fundamental training resources like coaching, equipment, and international competition costs—all vital to be able to compete against the best in the world.
Though supporting Canada’s future Olympics is a major goal of FANFIT, Andrew says the competition aims to motivate all Canadians. “It’s an unwritten rule that every event is as inclusive as possible. All the events can be done by anyone who’s healthy enough to exercise. You might not beat an Olympian,” he laughs, “but you can compete alongside them.”