Weekend RBC Training Ground finals could be first step to the Olympics for this Whitby teen
Kya Gordon is just one of 100 Canadian athletes seen as potential Olympic prospects
Kya Gordon has always dreamed of competing in the Olympics and this weekend could be the next big step towards making it happen, but she still doesn't know what sport she might specialize in.
She loves sports and has played many of them. The problem, if you could call it that, is that she excels at all of them.
Softball, volleyball, track, you name it, she's a standout.
This weekend, the 15-year-old from Whitby, Ont., east of Toronto, is one of 100 promising Canadian athletes headed to Calgary to be put under a microscope for the RBC Training Ground finals. They'll compete in a range of activities that test overall athletic ability, measuring speed, power, strength and endurance under the watchful eye of scouts from eight different national sporting organizations.
"It's such a dream come true," she said, noting she'll be one of the youngest people there, since the competition was open to people 14 to 25.
"It's an opportunity I just want to grab and even though I'm a little bit nervous, I'm more excited."
She and the others scored the highest in athletic testing out of nearly 2,000 young people from across the country. Based on their performance this weekend, up to 30 of them will receive funding and resources, and will be pegged as "Future Olympians," possibly in a sport they've never even played before.
With the range of sports she plays, including out-of-town tournaments, it's getting expensive, so being chosen would be a relief for her family.
"My parents have always been looking at money as a consideration for sports I'm going to play," she explained, adding that she started softball when soccer started to get too pricey.
"Money can be a struggle sometimes for everyone," said the Grade 10 student, who recently started a part-time job at McDonald's.
"It's an amazing opportunity that they give kids to get to go to this training ground and show what they can do."
She had a top sprinting coach help her prepare for this weekend.
Olympic medallist Tony Sharpe runs The Speed Academy and was Canadian world-class sprinter Andre DeGrasse's first coach.
He sees the attitude of a champion in Gordon.
"Very mature, very focused," he said of her three weeks of training under him.
Former coach for Andre DeGrasse sees potential in Whitby teen
"Like I say, talent runs out," Sharpe explained. "You're going to have to appreciate the fact that you have to train hard. So I see that in her."
He's not sure how it'll work for Gordon in Calgary this weekend, up against much more experienced athletes, including people who've already competed at the university level, but he said she has nothing to lose.
CBC Sports host Scott Russell will be broadcasting from the event, now in its fourth year.
He said another Whitby athlete, Pierce LePage, is probably the RBC Training Ground's biggest success story.
The decathlete won the event in 2016, earning money for training, along with extra support.
Since then, he won a medal at the Commonwealth Games and will be competing in the track and field World Championships, followed by the Olympics next summer.
"He gets that expertise that's required because of the funding," Russell said. "All of a sudden things open up for Pierce LePage."
Russell has also seen athletes change sports as a result of the RBC Training Ground, citing one Albertan, Kelsey Mitchell, who played university soccer, then became a cyclist after Cycling Canada identified her talent.
Gordon is up for wherever this experience takes her.
Already, earlier in this process, it led to her training with Rugby Canada, after never having even touched a rugby ball.
It's what got her to the finals in Calgary.
"I just have to keep pushing myself," she said in an interview in her high school workout room.
"Look at it as an experience to get better and an experience to maybe make your dreams come true in the end."
CBC Sports will be on-site at the event in Calgary Saturday, providing coverage in its weekly Road to the Olympic Games broadcast beginning at 1pm ET/ 10am PT, on CBC and the free CBC Gem streaming service, as well as coverage across @CBCOlympics social media channels.