As you’re watching 72 of Canada’s top teenage athletes compete at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, you might be thinking “how can I help the next generation of Team Canada Olympians?”
Well, there is a new way for folks across the country to contribute.
On Thursday, Team Canada’s official charitable organization – the Canadian Olympic Foundation – launched a new fundraising campaign, 5to8. The campaign gets its name from the fact that the athletes who will benefit from the funding are about five to eight years away from standing on an Olympic podium.
It is at this point in their careers that athletes have the greatest need of financial support for their training and development. Without it, they might only be able to dream about but not replicate the success of the three Olympic medallists featured in the campaign launch video: freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau, wrestler Carol Huynh, and short track speed skater Kim Boutin.
The 5to8 campaign was inspired by a generous donation to the Canadian Olympic Foundation by David and Ruth Asper and their children. Their $2.5 million contribution is the largest ever donation to Olympic sport in Canada and will be doubled in value thanks to the Government of Canada’s Next Generation Initiative fund matching program.
That fund matching is also extra incentive for all Canadians to donate, as the federal government will match dollar for dollar whatever money is raised as part of 5to8 by December 31, up to $4 million. Donations to 5to8 will be directed where the money will have the most impact on many athletes, namely National Sport Federations and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network.
One Next Gen athlete who has already shown how a funding increase can improve performance is decathlete Pierce LePage. Featured alongside the Olympians in the campaign video, LePage won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April, just two years after being identified as a future Olympian through RBC Training Ground. His career became fast-tracked and he was soon competing against Olympic and world championship medallists. He’s now closer to fulfilling his Olympic dream, potentially as soon as Tokyo 2020.
“To win a medal for Canada at the Commonwealth Games was a dream come true,” LePage said. “My eyes are firmly set on Tokyo 2020, and despite the financial burden, I am committed to my goal of representing Canada on the world’s greatest sporting stage. As a Next Generation athlete, I want to personally thank the Asper family for stepping up to showing such generous support for the Next Gen.”
Check out 5to8.ca for more stories on the importance that funding plays in turning Next Generation athletes into Olympic medallists.