On Saturday at The Genesis Centre in Calgary, Catherine Lizotte of Knowlton, Quebec and Ian Holmquist from Peterborough, Ontario were named as the top performers of the first-ever RBC Training Ground National Final.
100 athletes between 14 to 25-years-old competed in speed, power, endurance, and strength tests for the chance to win the title of male or female champion – which ultimately earns them funding from RBC and a training spot with an RBC Training Ground partner NSO.
This past summer the NSO Partners participating (Athletics Canada, Rugby Canada, Canoe/Kayak Canada, Freestyle Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada and Speed Skating Canada) identified and tested the athletes in their own sport-specific context.
Kurt Innes, Technical Lead of the RBC Training Ground Program, explained what each NSO could be looking for: “Cycling is looking for really explosive power below the belly, it’s a leg dominated sport. In generic terms, how high can they jump and then can they transfer that power onto the bike. They’ve already confirmed the athletes can ride bikes this summer, so now it’s who are the best sprint cyclists based on the numbers.”
Both Lizotte and Holmquist are returning participants to the RBC Training Ground Program. Holmquist was a competitor at the Ontario regional final in 2017, while Lizotte was a part of the Quebec regional final in 2018.
On Saturday, Lizotte finished first in the bike sprint and leg press, while Holmquist was at the top in the arm/leg bike and the leg press.
Lizotte gave her thoughts on being the top female performer: “My experience today was exceptional. I wasn’t expecting that. My results are much better than last year’s. I’m very happy to see that all of the efforts I have put in have paid off. I came in first in the leg press and the bike sprint. I wasn’t expecting this, coming here this weekend. I believed I could perform better than last year, but I never thought I would reach this point.”
Holmquist said of his victory: “It was unbelievable, I never expected this to happen.”
Olympic bronze medallist Abel had this advice for the athletes: “Don’t give up, you’re great, and what you’re doing today will pay off in the future.”
Canoe sprint athlete Bray-Lougheed, a participant in the 2016 program, had this advice for the athletes: “Push hard and when you think you can’t give anymore just remember and keep, keep going.”
One of the most successful athletes identified through RBC Training Ground is cyclist Kelsey Mitchell. Before being selected by Cycling Canada to try sprint track cycling, she had never ridden a track bike before.
When Innes saw Mitchell test at the Toronto qualifier in 2017, he saw the potential that she would have in cycling: “The six second bike sprint – she set not the national record, but the second best six second bike sprint, that I’ve ever seen, the first time on a bike. Her vertical jump score was fantastic and her six second bike score was like ‘holy cow’, and she’d never ridden a bike before. So she’s that good.”
Registration information for the 2020 RBC Training Ground program can be found at www.rbctrainingground.ca.