55 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls awarded the 2020 Petro-Canada FACE™ grant

Petro-Canada™ has announced the 55 athlete-coach pairs who will each receive $10,000 in funding to help them along their journey.

The Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE) Program grants are awarded to athletes who are striving to represent Canada at the Olympic and Paralympic Games but do not yet qualify for government funding. The funds are used for training, equipment, coach education, and competition travel expenses.

Learn more about FACE here

Since 1988, Petro-Canada has supported over 3000 athletes and coaches through the FACE Program, providing over $12 million in financial support. This year’s class includes 42 aspiring Olympians and 13 aspiring Paralympians.

Here’s a closer look at some of the FACE class of 2020 athletes:

Mariam Abdul-Rashid

Mariam Abdul Rashid and Phylicia George race over hurdles

Phylicia George, right, and Mariam Abdul-Rashid jump over the final hurdles as George goes on to win the women’s 100m hurdles final at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Montreal, Saturday, July 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Mariam Abdul-Rashid won silver in the 100m hurdles at the 2019 Canadian Track and Field Championships. She spent four years competing for the University of Texas, earning Second Team All-American honours in 2018 and 2019.

Among her goals she would like to achieve with coach Tony Jarrett are winning a national title in 2021, qualifying for the Olympic Games and then making an Olympic final. Some of the ways in which the FACE Program funding will assist her are being able to buy groceries that will improve her diet and having sessions with a sports psychologist.

Liam Brearley

Liam Brearley does a flip in competition

Liam Brearley in action during the Snowboarding Men’s Halfpipe Qualification at Leysin Park. The Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland, Tuesday 21 January 2020. Photo: OIS/Bob Martin.

Snowboarder Liam Brearley was a triple medallist at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. While in Lausanne, the then-16-year-old from Gravenhurst, Ontario won slopestyle silver and bronze in both the big air and halfpipe events.

With guidance from coach Andy Stewart, Brearley aims to qualify for pro level events such as the X Games and the snowboarding US Open in upcoming seasons so that he can compete against his idols. The FACE Program funding will help him travel to those and other bigger competitions.

Florence Brunelle

Florence Brunelle competes in short track speed skating

Florence Brunelle competes in the short track speed skating women’s 1000m during the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday 18 January 2020. Photo: OIS/Joe Toth.

Short track speed skater Florence Brunelle was a two-time bronze medallist at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in January. She left Lausanne with bronze from the women’s 500m and 1000m events.

Just a few weeks later, the 16-year-old from Trois-Rivières, Quebec became only the second Canadian woman in the past decade to win multiple medals at one edition of the ISU World Junior Short Track Championships as she took silver in both the 500m and 1500m.

With the support of her coach Marc-André Monette, she is aiming to represent Canada at a World Cup in the near future, which would get her closer to the Olympic team. Having left her family to move to Montreal for training, the FACE Program funding will be a huge help in paying rent and having the best skates she can.

Peter Devries

As surfing gets set to make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, Peter Devries is looking to make a first wave. Devries is well-accomplished, having won the Canadian national championship nine times. The Tofino-based surfer is also the only Canadian to win a major international surfing event, the O’Neill Coldwater Classic in 2009.

With the support of coach Shannon Brown, Devries will continue to evolve as a surfer and person on the road to Tokyo 2020. Devries and Brown have known one another for over a decade, living in the same town and being of similar age. Coach Brown pushes Devries, provides all the little reminders before competition, making him think and focus in the moment.

Surfboards are expensive pieces of equipment that don’t last long, so the FACE Program funding will help Devries have enough boards to be at his best in a wide range of conditions.

Mohab El Nahas

Mohab El Nahas flipping an opponent on his back

Mohab El Nahas took home Canada’s first medal in judo at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru with a bronze medal in the -90 kg category. Earlier in 2019 he had a fifth-place finish at the Pan American Championships, a placement he matched at the IJF Grand Prix event in Montreal.

With the support of coach Jean Pierre Cantin, El Nahas is looking forward to the resumption of competition, with eyes on the IJF Grand Slam in Tokyo in December. El Nahas plans to use the FACE Program funding to help him pay for flights and entry fees to competitions.

Amélie Kretz

Triathlete Amélie Kretz is a FACE grant recipient for the second year in a row. The Rio 2016 Olympian is looking towards qualification for Tokyo 2020.

Kretz, from Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts, Quebec, competed on the ITU World Cup series in 2019, but also represented Canada in the mixed relay – an event that will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. Among her highlights last year were a fourth-place finish in the mixed relay during the World Triathlon Series stop in Nottingham.

With the support of her coach Alex Sereno, Kretz is looking to get back in the top 10 in World Triathlon Series races over the next year. Her ultimate goal is to be on the podium at Paris 2024. The FACE Program funding will help get her to races all over the world where she can earn valuable ranking points towards Tokyo 2020 qualification.

Xavier McKeever

Xavier McKeever competes in cross-country skiing

Xavier McKeever competes at the 2020 FIS Junior World Ski Championships (Photo courtesy: Doug Stephen / @vr45photography)

Cross-country skier Xavier McKeever is the latest member of his family to compete for Canada on the international Nordic stage. Being the son of Olympians Robin McKeever and Milaine Thériault and the nephew of Paralympic star Brian McKeever, you could say the Olympic dream runs in his blood.

The 17-year-old from Canmore, Alberta competed at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships the last two years. He achieved a big highlight in March when he and his teammates won silver in the men’s 4x5km relay in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.

With the support of his coach Eric Groeneveld, McKeever hopes to achieve a top 10 performance at the world juniors and qualify to compete at a World Cup. The FACE Program funding will assist him in getting to training camps and races.

Olivier Rioux

Olivier Rioux is 14 years old with a listed height of 7’4″ (225cm) and wears a size 20 shoe. So you shouldn’t be surprised that he is a basketball player. He currently suits up for College St-Jean-Vianney in Montreal. Last year he was invited to play with Real Madrid in a European tournament.

With coach Terry Annulis guiding the way, he hopes to part of the next U-16 Team Canada and compete internationally. The FACE Program funding will go a long way in helping him receive specialized training for big basketball players and visit schools and international programs as he figures out his best future path.

Many past FACE grant recipients went on to fulfill their Olympic dreams, including Kaitlyn Lawes, Rosie MacLennan, John Morris and Alex Bilodeau.

You can find the complete list of this year’s FACE recipients below.

Athlete Name Sport Coach Name
Mariam Abdul-Rashid Athletics Tony Jarrett
Ryan Anderson Sailing Lisa Ross
Jesse Bachinsky Para Cross-Country Kate Boyd
Christopher Baldwin Shooting Richard Lanning
Tess Beasant Para Alpine Skiing Jamie McCulloch
Charlotte Bolton Para Athletics Jag Rai
Jacob Brayshaw Para Swimming Renate Terpstra
Liam Brearley Snowboard Andy Stewart
Florence Brunelle Short Track Speed Skating Marc-Andre Monette
Samuel Cabral Field Hockey Inderpal Sehmbi
Samantha Carter Ski Cross Adam Bourns
Rachel Chan Badminton Jennifer Lee
Kerrian Chunlaud Freestyle Skiing – Moguls Freddy Mooney
Justine Clement Alpine Skiing Francis Royal
Natalie Coughlin Skeleton Richard Coughlin
Joel Demaere Judo Russel Gallant
Oliver Desrosiers Fencing Gilbert Gélinas
Peter Devries Surfing Shannon Brown
Anna Dunn-Suen Beach Volleyball Josh Nichol
Mohab El Nahas Judo Jean Pierre Cantin
Cooper Emin Speed Skating Mark Wild
Nilton Heredia Para Athletics Jean Laroche
Tanner Horgan Curling Steve Gould
Grace Hu Fencing Andrew Hu
Emily Johnston Cycling – Mountain Bike Jeff Ain
Ashur Jordan Alpine Skiing Nick Cooper
Josipa Kafadar Taekwondo Daniel Thornton
Jackson Kinniburgh Cycling – Track Tanya Dubnicoff
Amélie Kretz Triathlon Alex Sereno
Riley Lavorato Cycling – BMX Brendan Arnold
Logan Leach Para Alpine Skiing David White
Amanda Lee Luge Guntis Rekis
Connor MacMillan Water Polo Nikola Marirc
Xavier McKeever Cross-Country Skiing Erik Groeneveld
Olivia Meier Para Badminton Elliot Beals
Kyle Murray Skeleton Quin Sekulich
Micky Papa Skateboarding Adam Higgins
Clémence Paré Para Swimming Mike Edey
Kate Pennyfather Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Adam Oldershaw
Brandon Perger Wheelchair Rugby Trevor Hirshfield
Christina Picton Para Cross-Country Patti Kitler
Olivier Rioux Basketball Terry Annulis
Mael Rivard Canoe/Kayak – Slalom Michal Staniszewski
Adam Runnalls Biathlon Justin Wadsworth
Stefanie Schoenberger Bobsleigh Trevor Wight
Nathan Shuh Gymnastics – Trampoline David Ross
Ethan Small Karate Antonio Terra
Megan Smith Wheelchair Basketball Simon Cass
Maya Stephens Athletics Aliann Pompey
Leanne Taylor Para Triathlon Carolyn Murray
Marion Thénault Freestyle Skiing – Aerials Rémi Bélanger
Michael Trauner Para Canoe Joel Hazzan
Loïc Tremblay Diving Oliver Duchesneau
Stephane Tremblay Ski Jumping Tadeusz Bafia
Wendy Zhang Badminton Darryl Yung