Could it be you?

RBC Training Ground is a talent identification and athlete funding program designed to uncover athletes with Olympic potential and provide them with the high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their podium dreams.

Register for an RBC Training Ground event near you, and test your speed, power, strength and endurance in front of the top coaches and sport officials in Canada.

Your Journey to Team Canada begins now!

Please select a location.

Schedule

2017 RBC Training Ground Tour

Stay tuned for the 2018 RBC Training Ground Schedule. Coming Fall 2017.

Please note that participation at regional finals are by invite only and all participants must attend a local qualifier event and be selected to move on.

RBC Training Ground Local Qualifiers

January 15, 2017 – Langley, B.C. (Langley Events Centre)

January 21, 2017 – Prince George, B.C. (Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre)

February 5, 2017 – Burnaby, B.C. (Fortius Sport and Health)

February 12, 2017 – Kamloops, B.C. (Tournament Capital Centre)

February 19, 2017 – Victoria, B.C. (University of Victoria)

Alberta

March 18, 2017 – Grande Prairie, AB (Crosslink County Sportsplex)

March 25, 2017 – Lethbridge, AB (University of Lethbridge)

April 1, 2017 – Okotoks, AB (Crescent Point Regional Field House)

April 8, 2017 – Edmonton, AB (Foote Field Dome)

Atlantic

February 19, 2017 – Fredericton, NB (University of New Brunswick)

February 25, 2017 – Saint John, NB (University of New Brunswick – Saint John Campus)

March 25, 2017 – Antigonish, NS (St. Francis Xavier University)

April 1, 2017 – Halifax, NS (Dalhousie University)

April 15, 2017 – St. John’s, NL (Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre)

April 30, 2017– Charlottetown, PEI (University of Prince Edward Island)

Quebec

April 8, 2017 – Longueuil, QC (Cégep Édouard-Montpetit))

April 22, 2017 – Sherbrooke, QC (Sherbrooke University)

May 6, 2017 – Québec City, QC (Laval University)

Ontario

August 26, 2017 – Toronto, ON (Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport)

September 9, 2017 – Milton, ON (Mattamy National Cycling Centre)

September 16, 2017 – St Catharines, ON (Brock University)

September 30, 2017 – Kingston, ON (Queen's University)

RBC Training Ground Regional Finals

British Columbia

March 4, 2017 – Vancouver, B.C. (Richmond Oval in partnership with Canadian Sport Institute Pacific)

Alberta

May 6, 2017 – Calgary, AB (Winsport in partnership with Canadian Sport Institute Calgary)

Atlantic

June 10, 2017 – Halifax, NS (Canada Games Centre in partnership with Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic)

Quebec

July 8, 2017 – Montreal, QC (Institut National du Sport du Québec)

Ontario

October 14, 2017 - Toronto, ON (Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre)

Exercises

Qualifiers

Speed

40/30m Sprint

The 40m sprint is a test to measure an athlete’s speed and sprinting ability. The athlete starts from a two-point stance, behind a first set of timing lights. The test begins as soon as the athlete breaks the laser between the first set of timing lights. The test measures an athlete’s time from 0-10m, 30-40m and 0-40m.

Gender

Age

Excellent

Above Average

Average

Below Average

Poor

Male

< 4.0

4.2 - 4.0

4.4 - 4.3

4.6 - 4.5

> 4.6

Female

< 4.5

4.6 - 4.5

4.8 - 4.7

5.0 - 4.9

> 5.0

Strength

Isometric Mid-Thigh Pull (IMTP)

The isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP) is a key test used to measure an athlete’s full body strength. The athlete stands on the force plate, gripping the bar as if to perform a deadlift. The athlete then pushes through their feet to exert as much force through the handle of the IMTP instrument. The force output is observed and recorded.

Power

Vertical Jump

The vertical jump is a classic measure of an athlete’s lower-body power. Using a countermovement (knees bent) and arm swing, the athlete jumps as high as they can from the jump mat and lands with soft knees.

Gender

Age

Excellent

Above Average

Average

Below Average

Poor

Male

15 - 16 (Beashel 1997)

> 65cm

56 - 65cm

50 - 55cm

49 - 40cm

<40cm

16 - 19 (Davis 2000)

> 65 cm

50 - 65 cm

40 - 49 cm

30 - 39 cm

<30 cm

> 20 years (Arkinstall 2010)

> 70 cm

56 - 70 cm

41 - 55 cm

31 - 40 cm

<30 cm

Female

15 - 16 (Beashel 1997)

> 60cm

51 - 60cm

41 - 50cm

35 - 40cm

<35cm

16 - 19 (Davis 2000)

> 58 cm

47 - 58 cm

36 - 46 cm

26 - 35 cm

<26 cm

> 20 years (Arkinstall 2010)

> 60 cm

46 - 60 cm

31 - 45 cm

21 - 30 cm

<20 cm

Endurance

20m Multi-Stage Shuttle Run (Beep Test)

The 20m multi-stage shuttle run, commonly referred to as the beep test, is a tool to measure an athlete’s aerobic capacity. Athletes run 20m from line to line before or at the 'beep' on the CD track. As the athlete advances in the test the 'beeps' get closer and closer together. The test is over when the athlete can no longer get to the line before the 'beep' sounds twice in a row. Athletes must pivot at the line, rather than in looping turns.

Gender

Age

Excellent

Above Average

Average

Below Average

Poor

Male

14 - 16

L12 S7

L11 S2

L8 S9

L7 S1

< L6 S6

17 - 20

L12 S12

L11 S6

L9 S2

L7 S6

< L7 S3

21 - 30

L12 S12

L11 S7

L9 S3

L7 S8

< L7 S5

Female

14 - 16

L10 S9

L9 S1

L6 S7

L5 S1

< L4 S7

17 - 20

L10 S11

L9 S3

L6 S8

L5 S2

< L4 S9

21 - 30

L10 S8

L9 S2

L6 S6

L5 S1

< L4 S9

Finals

Speed

40/30m Sprint

The 40m sprint is a test to measure an athlete’s speed and sprinting ability. The athlete starts from a two-point stance, behind a first set of timing lights. The test begins as soon as the athlete breaks the laser between the first set of timing lights. The test measures an athlete’s time from 0-10m, 30-40m and 0-40m.

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Cycling Canada (w)

1.750

1.100

Cycling Canada (w/kg)

20.5

16.0

6 Second Bike Sprint

Athletes pedal flat out for six seconds on a stationary bike while remaining seated. An ergometer measures the peak wattage achieved and a second calculation factors in the athlete’s weight to determine watts per kg. The 6 second bike sprint is a key test for sprint disciplines in track cycling.

Strength

Concept Dyno

The concept dyno is an exercise/piece of equipment used to test an athlete’s push/pull strength. On a seated machine resembling an indoor rower, athletes pull a bar to their chest as hard as they can. Athletes also perform a push movement to ascertain strength of both muscle groups. Athletes also perform a seated leg press to measure lower body strength. The concept dyno test employs the same muscle groups used in rowing and paddling sports.

Arm Pull

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Canoe Kayak (Ave NM of 3 reps)

650

540

306

245

Rowing Open (Ave NM of 3 reps)

500

450

290

200

Rowing LWT (Ave NM of 3 reps)

450

380

280

190

Arm Press

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Canoe Kayak (Ave NM of 3 reps)

500

420

270

216

Rowing Open (Ave NM of 3 reps)

400

300

205

180

Rowing LWT (Ave NM of 3 reps)

350

280

190

140

Leg Press

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Rowing Open (Ave NM of 3 reps)

800

700

525

400

Rowing LWT (Ave NM of 3 reps)

750

580

500

390

Power

Single Broad Jump

From a standstill, the athlete jumps as far forward as possible landing with two feet. This movement is an important power test for all running-based sports, like rugby, athletics, bobsleigh and skeleton.

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Athletics Canada (m)

3.20

3.00

2.80

2.70

Bobsled Canada Skeleton (m)

2.43

N/A

2.30

N/A

Alpine Canada Ski Cross (m)

TBC

TBC

TBC

TBC

Rugby Canada (m)

2.75

2.65

2.46

2.32

Standing Triple Jump

With both feet placed parallel, the athlete jumps consecutively forward three times. Like the single broad jump, it is a general test of power and indicator for acceleration.

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Alpine Canada Ski Cross (m)

TBC

TBC

TBC

TBC

Athletics Canada (m)

9.90

9.50

8.40

7.90

Rugby Canada (m)

8.50

8.29

7.42

7.10

Endurance

Arm Leg Bike

This is an endurance test to measure aerobic capacity and an athlete’s ability to maintain power. On a stationary bike with moving arms, athletes must hit set revolutions per minute (RPM) targets. The test is over when the athlete is too exhausted to hit the set targets. Women start cycling at 50 RPM and men start at 60 RPM. This is a predictive endurance test for rowing and paddling.

Male

Female

19-24 y

14-18 y

19-24 y

14-18 y

Canoe Kayak

TBC

TBC

75

70

Rowing Open

73

68

64

56

Rowing LWT

73

68

64

56

Results

2017 RBC Training Ground Tour

RBC Training Ground Local Qualifiers

British Columbia

February 5, 2017 – Burnaby, B.C. (Fortius Sport and Health)

February 12, 2017 – Kamloops, B.C. (Tournament Capital Centre)

February 19, 2017 – Victoria, B.C. (University of Victoria)

March 18, 2017 – Grande Prairie, AB (Crosslink County Sportsplex)

March 25, 2017 – Lethbridge, AB (University of Lethbridge)

March 25, 2017 – Antigonish, NS (St. Francis Xavier University)

April 1, 2017 – Okotoks, AB (Crescent Point Regional Field House)

April 1, 2017 – Halifax, NS (Dalhousie University)

April 8, 2017 – Edmonton, AB (Foote Field Dome)

April 8, 2017 – Longueuil, QC (Cégep Édouard-Montpetit)

April 15, 2017 – St. John’s, NL (Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre)

Please refer to the personalized performance report each athlete received after the event. If there are any questions, please contact us at rbctrainingground@cbc.ca.

April 22, 2017 – Sherbrooke, QC (Sherbrooke University)

April 30, 2017– Charlottetown, PEI (University of Prince Edward Island)

May 6, 2017 – Québec City, QC (Laval University)

August 26, 2017 – Toronto, ON (Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport)

September 9, 2017 – Milton, ON (Mattamy National Cycling Centre)

September 16, 2017 – St Catharines, ON (Brock University)

What's New

RBC Training ground identifies 25 athletes with olympic potential

​TORONTO, December 13, 2016 — RBC, in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF), Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and CBC Sports, today introduced 25 young Canadian athletes, identified at RBC Training Ground events, who will now receive ongoing support through the program. RBC Training Ground is an innovative program designed to test and link undiscovered athletes with a sport that could excel them onto the podium.

​"We believe when we invest in youth, great things happen," said Matt McGlynn, vice president, brand marketing, RBC. "RBC Training Ground provides young Canadian athletes with the opportunity to challenge themselves against National Sport Organizations performance standards, and these 25 athletes rose to the occasion. We are proud to have helped uncover their talent and provide the necessary support they’ll need to accelerate their Olympic dream.”

RBC Training Ground is a series of free regional events where select local athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 participate in workouts measuring speed, power, strength and endurance. Performing in front of coaches and officials from a variety of national and provincial sport organizations, results are measured against performance benchmarks to determine an athlete's capacity for sport at its highest level.

​"Our nation is filled with talented athletes and we know that Olympic dreams don’t always follow the same path,” said Eric Myles, executive director of Sport, COC. “By creating a stage where our sport federations can find new talent, and then providing financial support to the athletes who show the most promise, RBC is filling a gap in our high performance sport model and making a very real and positive contribution to our nation's Olympic future."

​The following identified athletes receive additional assistance such as funding, resources, coaching and/or mentorship through the COF and RBC. The support is administered through the National Sport Organization (NSO) the athlete agrees to work with. National sport governing bodies who participated in RBC Training Ground included Athletics Canada, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Canoe Kayak Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada and Rugby Canada.

ATHLETEIDENTIFIED SPORTHOMETOWN
Christophe NormandRugby Men'sBromont QC
Colin PhillipsRugby Men'sNorth York ON
caleb jordanRugby Men'sLasalle QC
Andre Ford AzowannaAthleticsToronto ON
Pierce LePageAthleticsWhitby ON
Roland DodooAthleticsOakville ON
Jellisa WestneyAthleticsCambridge ON
Tania BambiAthleticsGatineau QC
Peter CollierAthleticsLower Sackville NS
Patrice St-Louis PivinCyclingSherbrooke QC
Kieanna StephensRowingSurrey BC
Emma GrayRowingWinnipeg MB
Trevor JonesRowingNorth Kawartha ON
Gabrielle SmithRowingMontreal QC
Marilou Duvernay TardifRowingSaint Jean Baptiste QC
Tyler AdamsRowingVictoria BC
Cody BaileyRowingDartmouth NS
Marc TarlingCanoePointe-Claire QC
Liam O’BrienKayakDartmouth NS
Scott BraddonKayakOttawa ON
Tom HallCanoeDartmouth NS
Alanna Bray LoughheedKayakOakville ON
Madison MacKenzieKayakChelsea QC
Sarah ClancyBobsleighToronto ON
Jeff McKeenBobsleighOttawa ON

“RBC Training Ground is the catalyst that will link undiscovered Olympians with a sport that could excel them onto the podium," said Peter Shakespeare, Director of National Talent Identification and Development, Rowing Canada. "With the right training environment and support the athletes uncovered at these events could be wearing the Maple Leaf at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games. RBC Training Ground truly exceeded our expectations in its first year, and we look forward to being a part of the program for years to come."

Program partners CBC/Radio-Canada, the COF and the COC have joined RBC in committing to RBC Training Ground for five years. CBC will help introduce Canadians to the athletes and their stories uncovered at each RBC Training Ground event over the upcoming year.

For more information, please contact:

Jackie Braden, RBC Brand Communications, 416-974-6286, jackie.braden@rbc.com

Brian Findlay, Stellick Marketing Communications, 416-603-9452 x301, bfindlay@gotoguys.net

Jessie Barrett, Communications, Canadian Olympic Foundation, 416-324-5012, jbarrett@olympic.ca

Getting on the right track, with the right support

For Olympic dreamers in the sport of Athletics, landing in the right training environment is paramount. Relocating and supporting every Canadian athlete with potential, however, is a very expensive proposition for Athletics Canada.​

Thanks to RBC Training Ground, an innovative program designed to help identify and provide support for athletes with real Olympic potential, six young track athletes now have the opportunity to live and train under the supervision of Canada's national Athletics program in Toronto. By outperforming hundreds of others and being among the 25 RBC Training Ground athletes identified by a participating national sports body for support, the young track athletes earned funding from RBC to help them develop in the sport. The support is administered by Athletics Canada.​

"Because of how they performed at RBC Training Ground events, these young athletes have earned the type of support needed to help them get to the Olympic level," said Carla Nicholls, Lead of High Performance Athlete Development, Athletics Canada. "These six athletes rose above the crowd. They all had different circumstances and back stories, but what they had in common was talent."​

Thanks to RBC Training Ground, 23-year-old Jelissa Westney (Cambridge, ON), a 100m and 200m sprint specialist who competed for the NCAA Michigan State Spartans, is now able to relocate to the Athletics Canada training hub at York University. Joining her at York are sprinters Andre Ford-Azonwanna (20, Toronto Ontario) and Roland Dodoo (19, Oakville Ontario). Both athletes ooze potential, but have had difficulties emerging from economically challenged backgrounds.​

"This is support Roland and Andre wouldn't have had access to," added Nicholls. "It's not just about getting them into the right training environments, but also providing food allowances to help ensure they eat properly, and travel allowances to help ensure they get to the right competitions and camps."​

Peter Collier (Lower Sackville, NS) was a little known club-level athlete when he attended the RBC Training Ground event in Halifax. His performance there, and the resulting support, has enabled Athletics Canada to create a proper training environment for him at the University of Toronto, where he is studying engineering. ​

"Decathletes require a lot of specialized coaching and equipment. We are able to complement what already exists at the University of Toronto to make sure Peter continues to develop and progress through the system,” said Nicholls.​

Athletics Canada has also enhanced the training environments of fellow decathlete Pierce Lepage (Whitby, ON) and hurdler Tania Bambi (Gatineau, QC) as a result of the program. Lepage (20) is able to participate in more international competitions while maintaining his training at York University. Bambi (22) is now training with the Ottawa Lions club, under the watchful eye of Athletics Canada coach and former Olympian Glenroy Gilbert. ​

"We knew about these young athletes, but none of them were at the level where we could support them the way they needed," added Nicholls. “Each of them exceeded our benchmarks and we knew a boost in support could get them over the hump to a carded level” ​

Canadian winters prove challenging for paddlers

​What is the biggest obstacle to producing Olympic level paddlers in Canada? Turns out it's ice.

​"Canadian rivers and lakes freeze, so offseason (Winter/Spring) training in Florida is very important for us," said Ian Miller, Communications and Markaeting Officer, Canoe Kayak Canada.

​Thanks to RBC Training Ground, six of the promising next generation paddlers will now be able to spend more time on the water year-round, crucial to keeping pace with other nations. The six paddlers are 1000m Canoe specialist Marc Tarling (25)(Pointe Claire, QC); Sprint Kayaker Liam O'Brien (20)(Dartmouth, NS); Ottawa's

Scott Braddon (17), Kayak, the youngest paddler to earn the support; Tom Hall (23)(Canoe); Sprint Kayaker Alanna Bray Lougheed (23)(Oakville, ON); Sprint Kayaker Madison Mackenzie (21)(Chelsea, QC).

​"The funding from RBC means that these younger athletes can now make it South for this training, stay longer and eat better while there," added Miller. "It also means the athletes who earned this funding will get extended periods of time on the water with great coaches, and will get to the types of international competitions we wouldn't ordinarily be able to send them to at this early stage of their development.

​These athletes used the RBC Training Ground events to show their Olympic potential, surpassing Olympic level benchmarks. Their performances put them into a group of 25 who will now be supported financially by RBC. Some of the 25 were athletes who came from other sports, some were known to NSOs.

​"Covering travel costs for these six athletes is by far the main way Canoe Kayak Canada will be using the RBC Training Ground funds," added Miller. "Given the current state of the Canadian dollar, the support comes at a fantastic time."

Breaking into Olympic Rugby

Thanks to their performances at RBC Training Ground events, two young athletes are now training with Rugby Canada as potential future Olympians. More than 400 athletes attended regional RBC Training Ground events in 2016, and were measured and tested in strength, power, speed and endurance by national sport organizations who were on site looking for new Olympic talent. ​

Lasalle, Quebec native Caleb Jordan (24) was playing rugby at Concordia University and for his local Wanderers club when he heard about RBC Training Ground. Attending the event turned out to be just about the best thing he could have ever done for his rugby career. His Standing Long Jump and Standing Triple Jump (Power testing) results exceeded Rugby's elite benchmarks. But it was his speed results that helped him standout from more than 100 participants and led Rugby Canada to offer him a spot in its national program.​

"Caleb is just flat out fast," said Sean Liebich, Manager, Rugby Canada National Senior Men's Sevens. "We were aware of him at a provincial level, but hadn't seen him much in person. He really has amazing speed, which RBC Training Ground helped us discover. Caleb likely wouldn't have gotten this chance, at this age, if he hadn't had that event to showcase his speed against the other gifted athletes from other sports who were in attendance," added Liebich. ​

Like Caleb, Colin Phillips (24) was playing club rugby (Markham Irish) before using RBC Training Ground as a springboard to a future in the sport. The North York, Ontario native's Standing Long Jump and Standing Triple Jump (Power testing) results exceeded Rugby's elite benchmarks.​

"We didn't know Colin before the event, but when we saw him perform in the tests - showcasing a great combination of power and speed - we knew we wanted to work with him," said Liebich. "Thanks to the support provided by RBC through this program, we are able to send Colin to the types of tournaments that will develop his rugby IQ (tournaments like Magnificent 7s in Ontario, which is pay-to-play)," added Liebech. "We think after some development time Colin has real national team potential." ​

Rowing Canada finding some hidden gems at RBC Training Ground

​Rowing is a sport of levers that requires strength and endurance. In addition to measuring things like wingspan, the individuals charged with identifying new talent use specific tests to help find these latent abilities. These benchmark tests are also good at revealing another key to success in the sport - "grit" - or the ability to dig deep when it feels like time to quit.

​When Kieanna Stephens, a 17-year old hockey player and Earl Marriott Secondary student in Surrey, BC, surpassed the elite Olympic benchmarks for each test the first RBC Training Ground success story was underway.

​"We were amazed with Kieanna's performance at the RBC Training Ground event in Vancouver," said Peter Shakespeare, Director of National Talent Identification and Development at Rowing Canada. "These are not easy benchmarks to reach. But the real moment we knew Kieanna could be special for us was the Schwinn arm/leg bike test, which is really a mental and toughness test as an endurance test."

​More than 400 elite athletes participated in 2016 RBC Training Ground events (four were held across Canada) where they were measured and tested in strength, power, speed and endurance by national sport organizations who were on site looking for new talent and potential crossover candidates. By outperforming hundreds of others and being among the 25 RBC Training Ground athletes identified by a participating national sports body for support, Stephens earned funding from RBC to help her develop in the sport. The support is administered by Rowing Canada.

​Currently Rowing Canada is using the funding to help cover the costs involved with getting to and from the Burnaby Lake Rowing Club, and ensuring her training and fundamentals are solid. After only three months of club rowing, Stephens managed to come 4th in her first regatta (July 2016 at the British Columbia Junior

​Championships), she also finished 5th out of 20 juniors at the 2016 RCA national rowing championships & Canada cup regatta.

​"Once the initiation phase is complete, the support Kieanna has earned through RBC Training Ground will be used to potentially relocate her to a national training centre," added Shakespeare. "Kieanna is a great example of how this program can link undiscovered Olympians with a sport that could excel them onto the podium. With the right training environment and support, the athletes uncovered at these events could be wearing the Maple Leaf at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games."

​In addition to identifying talent from other sports, RBC Training Ground created an opportunity for several young rowers to prove their Olympic potential and earn the support and funding required to make their dreams a reality.

​Eighteen-year-old Emma Gray (Winnipeg, MB) had been rowing for less than a year when she exceeded every Olympic benchmark established by Rowing Canada at the Montreal regional RBC Training Ground event held in February last year. Her strength (isolated arm and leg push/pulls) and endurance (Schwinn arm/leg bike) results separated her from the field of elite athletes. Six months after this performance, Gray cemented her status as an up-and-comer by winning two Junior Gold medals (Women's and Women's Junior U-23 single sculls) at the national rowing championships.

​Nineteen-year-old Trevor Jones (Burleigh Falls, ON) proved his impressive RBC Training Ground performance - exceeding several elite-level strength and endurance benchmarks - was no fluke. Just months after the Toronto regional event, Jones surprised the field to capture the men's single sculls title at the 2016 national rowing championships (men's single sculls). In February, 2017, Jones won the U23 men's event and posted the fastest time overall at the national indoor rowing championships in Mississauga, Ontario. He broke the six minute barrier in 5:59.

​"Since earning the support from RBC, Trevor is absolutely surging in the sport," noted Shakespeare. "A switch seemed to go off in his head during the Toronto event, and his results were off the charts. It definitely helped his confidence."

​Rowing Canada will administer the RBC Training Ground funding for each of the identified athletes to help cover the costs of travel and Olympic-level training. Other rowers earning support by posting impressive test results at RBC Training Ground included nineteen-year-old Tyler Adams from Victoria, BC, 21-year-old Cody Bailey from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Montreal's Gabrielle Smith as well as Marilou Duvernay Tardiff (Saint Jean Baptiste, QC), a nineteen-year-old whose brother is a starter with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs .

Finding future Olympians through RBC Training Ground

Building on the success from its inaugural season, RBC Training Ground is ready to hit the road once again in hopes of finding future Canadian Olympians. There are even more opportunities for athletes aged 14 to 25 to measure their speed, power, strength, and endurance against benchmarks set by national sport federations (NSFs) who will be scouting for young talent with Olympic medal potential.

In its first year, RBC Training Ground helped identify 25 athletes to receive ongoing support and funding through the RBC Future Olympian Program (a partnership with the Canadian Olympic Foundation). Two of those were 20-year-old Pierce LePage of Whitby, ON and 16-year-old Kieanna Stephens of Surrey, BC who were the top performers at the Toronto and Vancouver regional events.

Although LePage was already a decathlete, the increased support allowed him to fast track with Athletics Canada. In September, he competed at the Decastar meet in Talence, France. Part of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge series, it featured Rio 2016 silver medallist Kevin Mayer.

“I was a little bit nervous because I knew there were really good athletes there, people who went to the Olympics a month before and I didn’t know what to expect,” LePage recalled to Olympic.ca. “But all the guys were really nice and after competing with them and talking to them, I realized I’m not that different from them.”

After three personal bests, he actually held the lead through nine of the 10 events before finishing third overall with 8027 points, becoming one of the youngest in the world to break the 8000-point barrier in 2016 and getting him close to the Olympic qualifying standard of 8100 points.

“Without [the funding] from RBC I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to France and do well. I wouldn’t have this mindset now,” said LePage. “I’m super grateful for what RBC Training Ground has done for me and I’m sure it’ll help many athletes in the future.”

Stephens had been a competitive hockey player, but based on what they saw at the RBC Training Ground combine, Rowing Canada wanted her for their NextGen program, Row to Podium. After finishing her hockey season, she got on the water for the first time in March, just to get the feel of the boat before beginning her solo training.

“The first time I went out by myself was very interesting because the boats are so narrow they’re not very stable, so I kind of had boat training wheels, if you want to call it that, for the first week and a half,” Stephens told Olympic.ca. “Then once I started getting used to it we took those off and I was a little unstable at first, I was a little scared but I got used to it.”

She entered her first regatta in June and after rowing for just five months, was one of the top five junior rowers in Canada competing at the national championships. She’s aiming to be part of Team Canada at Tokyo 2020, something that wouldn’t have been possible without the funding for private lessons.

“RBC Training Ground offers a tremendous opportunity for young athletes to open their minds to a sport they may not have considered,” said Rio 2016 Chef de Mission Curt Harnett, who will serve as the official RBC Training Ground advocate. “Growing up I was focused on a hockey career, and was lucky enough to have a high school coach who introduced me to cycling. Just a few years later, I was standing on the Olympic podium with a silver medal around my neck and grateful to my coach for seeing my potential.”

​From the rugby pitch to skeleton podiums, helping athletes find their niche

The stage is set for the RBC Training Ground B.C. Regional Final where one hundred talented, young athletes will descend upon the Richmond Olympic Oval to impress coaches and talent ID representatives from 11 different national sport organizations (NSOs) in hopes of one day becoming a Canadian Olympian.

One of those coaches in the room will be Esther Dalle, the national recruitment coordinator for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. With the program for the second year in a row, RBC Training Ground is already a key component of bobsleigh and skeleton’s recruitment strategy.

“Bobsleigh and skeleton are both second generation sports – many of our athletes have come from track and field, football or rugby,” says Esther. “We don’t have facilities like hockey rinks in every corner of the country, so recruitment camps of this nature are really critical to the future of our sport. We’re looking for athletes who demonstrate great speed and strength.”

Skeleton athlete Mirela “Mimi” Rahneva is fresh off an eighth-place finish at her first world championship, but six years ago, she was a varsity rugby athlete looking for her next challenge. Initially attracted to bobsleigh following the Vancouver 2010 Games, Mirela attended a recruitment camp similar to RBC Training Ground and impressed coaches with her explosive start speed. At 5’6 and 68 kg, she was deemed too small to push a bobsleigh but instead, a great fit for skeleton.

“It doesn’t take long to decide whether you like skeleton or not,” says Mirela. “It was such a strange and exhilarating novelty to even try it - but I was immediately hooked. When you start out, you obviously don’t really know what you’re doing, but with every run you get a little bit more familiar with your sled and the track and you love it a bit more and become a bit obsessed with the intricacies of the sport.”

She trained for two years at the provincial level before graduating to the America’s Cup Circuit and Europa Cup Circuit – a series of races for high-performance development athletes looking to expose themselves to more competition. Mirela made her mark on the World Cup Circuit this winter with four podium finishes, including a gold in St. Moritz.

“Mimi’s development path is fairly traditional for her sport,” says Esther. “Most athletes are looking at about 4-5 years to gain experience and log runs on different tracks around the world before trying out for the World Cup team. Athletes who are identified this weekend through RBC Training Ground are most likely to make their Olympic debut in 2022, or even 2026.” For a bobsleigh brakeman, the progression to the elite level can be a little bit quicker. Jesse Lumsden famously transitioned from CFL football to Olympic bobsleigh in less than a year. But the role entails more than just pushing the sled and hopping in for a ride.

“It takes time to learn the sport,” says Esther. “New athletes need to learn the feel of getting down the hill, learning about the mechanics of the runners, learn how to push on ice, learn how to be a teammate, learn how to service a sled. No matter how great you are, learning those key skills generally takes at least one year before moving up the ranks.”

Bobsleigh brakeman Melissa Lotholz just won her second consecutive World Championship silver medal alongside Kaillie Humphries. Like Jesse, Melissa enjoyed an accelerated path to the world cup team after she was scouted from the University of Alberta’s track team in 2013. Despite her quick success, the experience hasn’t been without learnings.

“For me, the biggest challenge wasn’t the transition from sprinting to bobsleigh, but everything else that goes into being a high-performance athlete,” says Melissa. “I was a mediocre track athlete, and suddenly I found myself in the back of Kaillie’s – a two-time Olympic champion – sled. It was intimidating! I had a lot to learn in terms of what it took to compete with the best and what it was like to live on the road for months at a time. There’s a huge difference between being a student-athlete and being a high-performance athlete.”

At just 24 years-old, Melissa is young enough to participate at RBC Training Ground. She’s currently in PyeongChang for the Olympic test event and final world cup race of the season, but had the following advice for young athletes competing at this weekend’s final in BC.

“You never know what’s gonna happen until you give it a try! Go out and take a risk. There are lot of things out of your control in life, but if you put in what you’re capable of and take a risk, one way or another it’ll be worth it.”

Mirela is also trying out the Alpensia Sliding Centre in South Korea this weekend. She believes the most impactful part of RBC Training Ground is the light it shines on her sport and the funding it provides for next generation athletes.

“It’s incredible that RBC is providing this type of support. Training and talent ID camps are expensive to host and don’t always draw a huge crowd for a niche sport like skeleton or bobsleigh. This is a wonderful opportunity for young, talented athletes to come out and be tested and maybe be identified for a future in sport.

Sometimes all it takes is someone believing in you for you to recognize your own potential.”

Campbell River, BC native Avalon Wasteneys captures RBC Training Ground 2017 BC regional final

Avalon Wasteneys, a 19-year-old University of Victoria women's varsity rower, beat a field of 100 of the province’s top athletes to become RBC Training Ground’s 2017 BC Top Performer.​

"Initially, I didn't think I could win but as I completed more of the tests I began to realize there was a chance I was in the running," said Wastneys. "I didn't want to get my hopes up, so I was still very surprised when they called my name."​

A Vancouver Island native, originally from Campbell River, Wasteneys earned her way to the regional final by posting the best overall performance from any of the five local qualifiers and was named top female competitor at the February 19 qualifier held at the University of Victoria. ​

“I came out for fun in Victoria, as my teammate mentioned it to me the night before and I thought why not give it a shot,” she exclaimed. “Winning RBC Training Ground definitely gives me a confidence boost. I know I have what it takes to push myself to go farther. Seeing all these Olympic athletes today, I figured if they did it, maybe I can do it too.”​

Wasteneys first found national success as a cross-country skier as part of BC ski team, where she won silver in Junior Girls 1st division at the 2014 Cross Country Ski Nationals in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland. In the summer of 2015, she made the decision to switch sports from skiing to rowing. Now a varsity rower, she won a silver medal as part of the women's eight boat at the Canadian University Rowing Championships in November 2016.​

The RBC Training Ground BC Regional Final was held on March 4 at the Burnaby Oval, where 100 of the top athletes, from regional qualifiers held in Burnaby, Prince George, Langley, Kamloops and Victoria, competed in Olympic benchmark tests in front of national sport coaches and scouts. With the victory, Wasteneys earns future Olympic funding from RBC, up to $10,000 for up to three years, to be administered by Rowing Canada and a trip to the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.​

"Obviously every dedicated athlete dreams of going to the Olympics, but considering I have only been rowing for around a year and half, I have far to go before that dream can realistically become a goal," said Wasteneys. ​

Looking for future Olympic stars with RBC Training Ground

  • More locations, more sport associations, more athletes have the chance to chase their Olympic dreams
  • RBC extends its 70 year commitment to support the next generation of Canadian Olympians until 2024

TORONTO, January 12, 2017 — Who is Canada’s next Olympic star? Building on the success of Team Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, RBC, in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF), CBC Sports and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute (COPSI) Network are renewing the search for future Olympic athletes through RBC Training Ground.

“RBC Training Ground offers a tremendous opportunity for young athletes to open their minds to a sport they may not have considered,” said Curt Harnett, three-time Olympic medallist and RBC Training Ground advocate. “Growing up I was focused on a hockey career, and was lucky enough to have a high school coach who introduced me to cycling. Just a few years later, I was standing on the Olympic podium with a silver medal around my neck and grateful to my coach for seeing my potential.”

Athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 are invited to attend an RBC Training Ground event to measure their speed, power, strength and endurance. Each athlete will try to hit performance benchmarks set by national sport organizations (NSO) scouting for young talented athletes with Olympic medal potential.

In its first year, RBC Training Ground travelled across the country and tested 400 athletes at four regional workout events, with 94 young Canadians meeting NSO benchmarks. Of those, 25 athletes earned funding and support to spark or accelerate their Olympic dreams. For 2017, RBC Training Ground builds on that success with more qualification events in more cities and has partnered with five additional national sport governing bodies. This will give more than 2,500 yet-to-be-discovered athletes the chance to further fuel their Olympic dreams.

The search begins in Langley, British Columbia on January 15 and travels across the country with more than 25 local qualifiers taking place in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Top athletes from the local qualifiers will be invited to attend RBC Training Ground regional finals hosted in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Athletes interested in participating at the free local qualifiers can register at www.rbctrainingground.ca.

Eleven NSOs will be represented at RBC Training Ground events to assess each athlete’s potential for their high-performance programs. Returning NSOs Athletics Canada, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Canoe Kayak Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada, and Rugby Canada will be joined by new partners Alpine Canada (Ski Cross), Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, Judo Canada, Triathlon Canada and Water Polo Canada.

At each local qualifier, participants will be identified, based upon their athletic performance, to attend a regional final where up to 100 athletes will perform in front of national and provincial sport officials. Select athletes from the regional finals will be identified for additional testing with various NSOs. Once the next level of analysis is complete, up to 40 athletes will receive additional assistance such as funding, resources, coaching and/or mentorship through the COF and RBC. The support will be administered through the select NSO. In addition, the top athlete from each regional final will receive a trip to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Similar to familiarization trips taken by Canada’s top Olympians, this opportunity will help prepare and encourage the athletes when they, hopefully, make future Olympic Games.

CBC Sports will produce broadcast features to introduce Canadians to the athletes and their stories uncovered at RBC Training Ground events across the country. These features will follow the journey of the top athlete from each of the five main regional events as they train in their new sport and begin the transition from relative unknown to a potential member of Team Canada. Olympian and former national women’s soccer team member Karina LeBlanc will attend the five main regional events on behalf of CBC Sports and will appear within the network’s weekly TV program, Road To The Olympic Games, online at cbcsports.ca and via CBC Sports’ social media platforms with reports from each event.

“CBC Sports shares our partners’ commitment to support Canada’s athletes and we are excited to continue to play a role in identifying future Olympians through RBC Training Ground,” said Greg Stremlaw, executive director, CBC Sports, and general manager and chef de mission for CBC/Radio-Canada’s coverage of PyeongChang 2018. “We showcase high-performance sport year-round to help ensure fans know Canada’s athletes before they reach the top of the podium.”

Program partners CBC Sports, the COF and the COC have joined RBC in committing to RBC Training Ground for five years. For more information about RBC Training Ground and the local qualifiers, go to www.rbctrainingground.ca.

Renewing an historic partnership

RBC and the COC today announced that RBC has renewed its sponsorship as the premier national partner in the banking and insurance category until the end of 2024. RBC’s commitment will focus on supporting the next generation of Canadian athletes through RBC Training Ground and other athlete development initiatives such as the RBC Olympians program.

“RBC is proud to extend our support for Canadian athletes and to help discover our next generation of Olympic hopefuls for many years to come,” said Mary DePaoli, chief brand and communications officer, RBC. “We have been a long-standing partner with the COC for 70 years and this sponsorship is a great source of pride for our employees, our clients and our company.”

“RBC’s commitment to the Canadian Olympic Team is unparalleled in its longevity and generosity,” said Chris Overholt, chief executive officer of the COC. “Canada’s largest financial institution has helped thousands of athletes go to Games and compete against the best in the world since 1947. Now looking ahead, we couldn’t be more grateful for their renewed support in developing the next generations of Olympians. RBC is a critical part of the team’s past and future success.”

For more information, please contact: 

Jackie Braden, RBC Brand Communications, 416-974-6286, jackie.braden@rbc.com

Brian Findlay, Stellick Marketing Communications, 416-603-9452 x301, bfindlay@gotoguys.net

Jessie Barrett, Communications, Canadian Olympic Foundation, 416-324-5012, jbarrett@olympic.ca

Simon Bassett, publicist, CBC Sports, 416-205-8533, simon.bassett@cbc.ca

Lethbridge Pronghorn named Training Ground champion

Sarah Orban, a varsity soccer midfielder at the University of Lethbridge, beat a field of the province's top 14-25 year old athletes to be named RBC Training Ground Alberta regional champion.​

"This feels kind of surreal to be honest," said the Calgary native after receiving the winner's trophy in front of on-site Olympian mentors including Karina LeBlanc (soccer), Cassie Hawrysh (Skelton) and Anastasia Bucsis (Speed skating). "Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine, even though I didn't know if it was possible. But after today it definitely feels more possible."​

In addition to soccer, Orban runs track and field during the indoor season for the Pronghorns. She finished seventh in the women's 60m dash at the 2017 Golden Bear open in Edmonton, and recorded an eighth place finish in the 300m at the Canada West Track and Field Championships. Her unique combination of skills first raised eyebrows at the national sport level by recording the best overall vertical jump and sprint results among all females at the RBC Training Ground local qualifier held in Lethbridge last month.​

"I want to compete for Canada, I just have yet to determine the sport to get me there, so this was an amazing experience for me to learn about so many Olympic sports, and talk to so many experts,” said Orban. “I am open to any possibility. I have considered Skeleton - it would be really exciting."​

In addition to Bobsleigh Skeleton Canada, Cycling Canada and Rugby Canada have already begun discussions with Orban about her future. With the victory, Orban earns future Olympic funding from RBC – up to $10,000 for up to three years – to be administered by the national sports organization she chooses to work with, as well as a trip to the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.​

Helping find new and undiscovered athletes with Olympic podium potential, RBC Training Ground is a joint venture between RBC, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Foundation, CBC Sports and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institutes Network.​

Patrice St-Louis Pivin: On track for future successes

​How a successful Sherbrooke (QC) powerlifter who had never set foot in a velodrome in his life became a valuable member of the Canadian men’s track cycling team - basically overnight - is a story that almost reads like fiction. However, all the right elements were there to set the athlete on a new track. It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, with the right skill-set and frame of mind, and the right people to make the magic happen.

Patrice tried cycling in Bromont (QC) once just to see if he would enjoy the sport enough to develop an interest for it, and immediately garnered solid results - but didn’t pursue it further because he was still competing in his other sports. He was an active strongman, powerlifting and cross-fit competitor with Canadian records, and that was his calling. Or so he thought.

In comes renowned Olympic cyclist Hugo Barrette who had heard, through a common friend, that St-Louis Patrice – a cycling novice – was getting unbelievable results in power, strength, and endurance. That was enough to trigger his curiosity, and what he discovered pleased him immensely. This is where it all began.

Barrette knew that Patrice had no experience as a cyclist, but he saw in him good athletic qualities and a lot of raw power that might just convert very well to track cycling. So, Barrette invited him to come and give it a try with the team. And he did not disappoint. “After three days working with the team, the bodybuilding coach told me about RBC Training Ground. I had never heard of the program before,” said Patrice about his stint with the team. And Barrette was there to encourage him to register and have his skills assessed as a potential future Olympian.

Not really knowing what he was getting into, he forged on and went to the Montreal RBC Training Ground event with one thing on his mind: give it his best shot. “I am generally confident, but I didn’t expect to be among the best in Canada. I had never had an opportunity to have my abilities tested in this way, and it was pretty amazing,” added Patrice.

Patrice remembers very well how things happened at the Training Ground event: “Of course I wanted to get a grant, but I went there with one thing in mind: perform well and show everyone that I had potential. My first event was the vertical jump, and as I was waiting for my turn to come, I could see the other athletes registering jumps at 30, 40, 50, 60 cm. I stepped on the plate and jumped 103 or 104 cm. Everybody went nuts around me!”

He goes on: “That’s when the experience truly started for me. I knew I could perform. But that’s when I realized that I truly had a chance to win this competition and go to Rio to witness what the Games truly were all about. I could feel it, and I never stopped believing from that moment on.” And sure enough, Patrice finished among the top 25 athletes selected to receive ongoing funding from the RBC Training Ground program, and the only one in cycling.

As exciting as this was, the next steps were to prove even more incredible.

A month after participating in the RBC Training Ground program, Patrice was packing his bags and moving to Milton to join the rest of the team. “My family thought I had lost my mind… I had a fulltime job for the past four years at the local papermill and I was earning about $75K a year. I had a partner, a dog, a house, a car, a motorcycle… and I was leaving it all behind to go train in a new sport with zero money,” Patrice explains.

“RBC Training Ground helps tremendously with coaching and living expenses, but camaraderie and support from my team was also very important to me. The boys helped me put food on the table at times.”

Now, a little over a year later with a top-10 finish in the World Cup team sprint event and a bronze medal at the Pan American Championships, his great performances are paying off and have made him a carded athlete for 2017 - which means more relief.

His eyes are set on Tokyo 2020, and he is determined to get there: “Tokyo 2020 has been on my mind from the moment I set foot at RBC Training Ground. I don’t plan on just cruising by and hoping for good performances. The Games are a major event, and I will do everything I can to make it there.”

Patrice is excited about the Games and knows that for now, he fits the team sprint profile perfectly as the lead rider. However, with more experience, he hopes to compete in the individual sprint event as well.

Until then, having exceeded all expectations in a very short period competing in a completely new sport, Patrice has a kernel of wisdom to share with aspiring young athletes: “Believe in yourself. Always. See, I didn’t think I could be among the best, but that one first jump was all I needed to believe.”

And he maintains that without Hugo Barrette acting as his mentor and guide, he would never have been discovered by the RBC Training Ground officials and likely would not have known that he was destined for a bright future as a track cyclist.

Newfoundlander Andrew Wood named Training Ground Atlantic Regional Champion

Andrew Wood, a 21-year-old basketball player turned varsity track athlete from St. Johns, Newfoundland, won the RBC Training Ground title for the Atlantic Canada, beating a field of the region's top 100 athletes ages 14-25. ​

“I feel amazing right now – I'm shaking a bit. I didn't expect to win, but I'm super proud! I can’t wait to go home and tell all my family and friends,” exclaimed Wood. “I think athletes from Atlantic Canada can be underestimated, so I’m really excited to represent St. John's, and I'm ready to debunk that myth."​

Competing at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax against top qualifiers from regional events held in Fredericton, Antigonish, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John's, Wood hit multiple national benchmarks and was the top male for standing long jump and 40m sprint. According to Canadian Olympic Committee officials on site, Wood has attracted the attention of at least three different national sport organizations (NSO) with his impressive speed and power – both qualities that are important to sports like bobsleigh, athletics and rugby.​

Wood has had recent success representing Memorial University, winning a silver medal in the 60-metre dash at the 2017 AUS track and field championships. With the victory, Wood earns funding from RBC to be administered by whichever NSO he chooses to work with. In addition, he will be attending the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang to experience a Games first-hand. Within the next few weeks, he'll be contacted by the NSOs who are interested in him and begin sport-specific testing for the sports that identified him as a prospect.​

RBC Training Ground gives local athletes – no matter what sport they are involved in – the chance to test their strength, speed, power and endurance in front of officials from 11 Olympic sports, and earn funding from RBC. In 2016, 25 athletes earned funding and are now working with National Sports Organizations to help bring their Olympic dreams to life. ​

Vancouver,
BCRegional Final

Calgary,
ABWinsport in partnership with
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary

Halifax,
NSCanadian Sport
Centre Atlantic

Montréal,
QCInstitut National du
Sport du Québec

athlete background
Peter
Collier

Peter Collier

Hometown: Lower Sackville, NS
Age: 18
Dedication is what drives Peter Collier in his pursuit of a simple goal. To be the best. Jumping further than any man his age in the history of Nova Scotia, he is considered one of the top long jumpers in the country. And guess what? He’s still in high school.
athlete background
Tania
Bambi

Tania Bambi

Hometown: Gatineau, QC
Age: 22
As one of six kids, Tania Bambi knew she’d have to do something to stand out. So she did - winning three national titles and four provincial competitions in hurdles. Then she had to drop out. Her coach said she’s got what it takes; she just has to give it her all. With renewed purpose, she’s more determined than ever to win Olympic gold.
athlete background
Pierce
LePage

Pierce LePage

Hometown: Whitby, ON
Age: 20
Pierce LePage has played sports since he could walk. When he tried Track and Field, he broke a Canadian triple jump record. Then he broke it again. Now focused on decathlon, Pierce trains five hours a day and five days a week in 10 track and field events. It’s only a matter of time before he starts shattering more records.
athlete background
Kieanna
Stephens

Kieanna Stephens

Hometown: Surrey, BC
Age: 16
Ask Kieanna Stephens who her hero is and she’ll tell you, it’s her mom. Her favourite athlete is her brother Devante, an NHL draft pick. The B.C. teen, already a local hockey star, is ready to shine even brighter as she takes a new step in a different direction - towards Olympic glory.