Olympic hopefuls flock to Queen’s

RBC Training Ground hits the ARC with hopes of finding next batch of Canadian Olympic talent

The ARC is set to host an RBC Training Ground site this weekend.
The ARC is set to host an RBC Training Ground site this weekend.

Dreams of becoming a Canadian Olympic athlete aren’t as lofty as they once seemed.

This Saturday, one of four province-wide RBC Training Ground sites — a funding program designed to uncover Canadian athletes with Olympic potential — is being hosted by Queen’s at the Athletics and Recreation Centre. The event, which now heads into its second year of operation, is open to athletes aged 14-25. 

Over the course of the day, participants will be measured through a variety of speed, power, strength and endurance drills. 

Sean Scott, acting Director of High Performance Sport at Queen’s since 2015, said the Canadian Olympic Committee has always been looking at ways of diversifying their engagement and development of homegrown athletic talent in Canada. 

“One of the gaps for the Canadian [Olympic] system was that its development strategy wasn’t as sophisticated as other countries,” Scott said. 

Prior to his arrival at Queen’s, Scott worked for Own the Podium — a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to helping Canadian athletes reach podium finishes at Olympic competitions — as a sport strategist and performance analyst.

National exposure for local athletes has often occurred at varying and often infrequent rates in years past, he added. 

“[W]hen you’re looking at trying to have a very coordinated approach to developing people to achieve success at the highest level, it can be challenging for [local] athletes to find the right pathway to go from where they can’t be to where they need to be,” Scott said.

The training ground program offers local athletes a platform to showcase their athletic potential. As a result, it helps them secure the necessary funding required for their training and competition entries. 

Scott said Canada’s Olympic Committee has begun to follow an effective system “that both helps identify [athletes] that have potential, and then helps connect those athletes into programming support that would allow them to develop that potential.”

Contingent on how many athletes meet the event’s required measurement standards, roughly 100 to 200 participants from the four local qualifiers in Ontario this weekend will be invited to the regional final. The winner of the final, which is set to be held at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on October 14, will have themselves a spot on Team Canada for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. 

Hosting the training ground at Queen’s has value to the athletic department, Scott said, particularly in regards to the potential growth they could experience in future years. 

“The benefit for us is that [the event] does grant some nice exposure for Queen’s with sports — even national sports — and potentially offer some opportunities in the future for partnerships in relation to our athletics department.”

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