Finding Canada’s Future Olympians through RBC Training Ground
The search is never too hard or far when it comes to finding amazing athletic talent across the country.
RBC Training Ground was back for its sixth year in 2020-21, both virtually and in person. With a mission to find the next generation of talent, amateur athletes from ages 14 to 25 were evaluated on their speed, power, and endurance to gauge their potential in high-performance sport. The goal for many is to one day represent Team Canada on the world stage.
In the quest of attaining RBC Future Olympian status, more than 4500 young athletes from all regions of Canada participated in year six of RBC Training Ground, hoping to be recognized for their athletic talents. The top 100 moved on to compete at a national final from which 30 were selected to be RBC Future Olympians.
Each year, these athletes deemed to have the greatest potential by participating National Sports Organizations receive $7500 to support their development in sport. The money will help them with expenses such as training costs, equipment, nutrition, and competition fees so that they may one day reach their dreams of being on an Olympic podium.
Here is a closer look at some of this year’s identified athletes:
Erin Watchman (Track Cycling)
It was a nudge from a teammate and the inspiration of a podcast that encouraged Erin Watchman, weightlifter turned track cyclist, to submit her testing results to RBC Training Ground.
“I signed up but didn’t submit results until I listened to a podcast where Kelsey Mitchell said something along the lines of, ‘What’s the worst that could happen,’” said Watchman.
Seeing the opportunities and possibilities for so many athletes who came through the program, like Mitchell, Watchman was eager to use her strength and power from weightlifting as a foundation and continue to learn and grow into a new sport.
“RBC Training Ground has made it seem like a real possibility instead of a dream and has provided a path to follow. I feel more confident in myself and more capable because of each stage of RBC Training Ground.”
Bon Lowe (Speed Skating)
An injury can take a toll on athletes, both mentally and physically. For some, they’re unsure if they will ever return to the shape they were in before. That was the exact feeling for speed skater Bon Lowe, who was determined throughout his recovery to get back to a high level of training and competition that he would be proud of.
“Overcoming an injury in 2018 was a big challenge I had faced,” explained Lowe. “Being injured meant I couldn’t train. When I returned to my sport I wasn’t at the same level I was before. It made me question whether or not I should continue competing but through lots of hard work I was able to qualify for the 2019 Canada Winter Games only a few months after recovering.”
Through RBC Training Ground, Speed Skating Canada saw the Saskatoon native’s potential and furthered their support of his goals to represent Canada at the junior world championships. Lowe says he is thankful for RBC Training Ground, which has given him the opportunity and resources to achieve his goals and future in the sport.
Ava Ference (Rugby)
Trading in a court for a field, Ava Ference is a former volleyball player who transitioned into a rugby player. The new sport might come with new challenges but Ference explains she has an immense love and passion for the game.
The 16-year-old said that while the COVID-19 pandemic really tested her mentally, she was able to use the time to work on herself and get back to training with her main goal of making Team Canada.
“I have always had Olympic dreams since I was a young kid, and those dreams remain the same. RBC Training Ground has helped me realize my Olympic dreams may be possible after all.”
While her goals might be big, they’re definitely not unrealistic. With her aspirations to be on Team Canada, Rugby Canada has said that her talents and dedication will surely help her to one day achieve that dream, perhaps as early as the next Olympic Summer Games at Paris 2024.
Élodie Caron (Freestyle Skiing)
It’s been a few years in the making, but Élodie Caron is nothing but determined to live out her dreams of being a national team athlete. Using her talents and expertise as a diver, the Quebec native is now ready to take on a new challenge: swapping the dive tower for a ski hill.
After initially signing up for RBC Training Ground in 2019, it wouldn’t be until the second time she registered that she would be discovered and put into intense training for freestyle skiing. Her commitment to the sport is what will help her achieve her goals of making Team Canada.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to go to the Olympics and become the best athlete (and person) I can be. This experience has given me even more motivation to achieve those goals.”
Not only has she discovered transferable traits across both sports, but she wants to see how far she can push herself in a new sport, honing the skills she has while challenging herself in different capacities.
Here is the complete list of RBC Future Olympians identified in 2021:
|Andrik Terauds||Canoe (Slalom)|
|Béatrice Olson||Canoe (Slalom)|
|Bon Lowe||Speed Skating|
|Daniel Bradley||Speed Skating|
|Daniel Pauli||Speed Skating|
|Élodie Caron||Freestyle Skiing|
|Evie McDonald||Canoe (Sprint)|
|Julia Lilley-Osende||Canoe (Sprint)|
|Kyla Rathwell||Freestyle Skiing|
|Luca Veeman||Speed Skating|
|Maël Rivard||Canoe (Slalom)|
|Maren Bradley||Canoe (Slalom)|
|Mark Zielonka||Canoe (Slalom)|
|Marlee MacIntosh||Canoe (Sprint)|
|Oskar Stack-Michasiw||Speed Skating|
|Sarah Faith||Freestyle Skiing|
|Victor Primeau||Freestyle Skiing|