There’s a feeling you get when you step on the track, maple leaf on your chest and Canada across your back. A feeling of pride, an added push to give your all and the confidence of an entire nation standing with you as you prepare to race. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be here, gearing up to compete at my first Olympic Games. Now, just months away from setting foot in Tokyo, I am more determined than ever to come back with a medal around my neck. Not just for me, but for my country. My name is Kelsey Mitchell and I am putting the pedal to the medal.
Growing up in Northern Alberta, I was always an active kid. At the age of 4, my parents had me start soccer so I could run off some of my energy. Where we were living, sports were pretty limited at the time. My parents saw my potential and made the decision to move the family south to Sherwood Park, just outside Edmonton, when I started high school.
I have always been a hard worker and very competitive. I may not always be the most talented athlete on the team, but I put everything into every sport I play. That’s why I decided to make a goal for myself to play soccer at the University of Alberta. For me, I knew this was something I could work towards and it may not seem like a lofty goal to most, but for me it was something I knew that if I put in the work, I could achieve. I was so proud to play for both the University of Alberta and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology but after graduating I was left with a feeling of “what next?”.
I took a few months off to think about what my next career goals were. The feeling that I was not done with competitive sport was still looming in the back of my head. That’s when I heard about RBC Training Ground, a talent identification program run by the Canadian Olympic Foundation and Canadian Olympic Committee, in collaboration with RBC that is designed to find young athletes with Olympic potential.
Through a series of strength and endurance tests, Cycling Canada identified me as a strong candidate. The next thing I knew, I was training with them and made the move to practice full time. As a soccer player, I never thought cycling would be in my wheelhouse. I now had a new goal, the Olympic Games in Tokyo. From that moment on, everything moved fast… and I love going fast!
Just a year after participating in RBC Training Ground in 2017, I was named a member of the Canadian National Cycling Team and in 2019 I headed to the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, where I won both a gold and a silver medal. What happened next, was unbelievable, a dream come true. After the Pan Am Games, I headed to the Pan Am Championships in Bolivia where I won three medals and broke the world record in the flying 200m sprint!
Fast forward to March 2020, where I qualified for the Olympic Games. I did it, I achieved something I never thought possible when I was a young athlete! I was going to Tokyo. Then 3 weeks later the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed. Waiting another year to become an Olympian gave me the opportunity to have an extra 12 months to prepare and become the best athlete I could be. After all, it has only been 3 years since I started this sport. Since then, I haven’t wasted a day in pursuit of my dreams.
For me, sport isn’t solely about winning or medals, it is about reaching my fullest potential. I have worked hard, I never gave up and it got me to a place I never would have imagined – the opportunity to represent Canada at the Olympic Games. With all of Canada standing with me, I will be pushing my hardest, riding my fastest and giving my all for Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 and beyond.
Thank you for waving the Canadian flag and cheering me on!
Team Canada Track Cyclist
P.S Please consider making a donation to the Canadian Olympic Foundation, helping athletes like me achieve their fullest potential. To make a donation click here