Olympic auditions return to Langley

An opportunity for unknown competitors to shine and, maybe, change sports

Langley’s Jordan Jacobs is an outstanding track and field athlete who was surprised to learn she might have a talent for rugby when she was tested at the RBC Training Ground event. File photo

The search for raw Olympic talent is returning to Langley

RBC Training Ground gives local athletes the chance to test their strength, speed, power and endurance in front of officials from Olympic sports looking for new talent.

It doesn’t matter what sport or activity they are involved in.

This Sunday, at the Langley Events Centre, Olympic officials will be looking for local athletes with the raw talent that could make them well suited for an Olympic sport.

Open to athletes between the ages of 14 and 25, the program is designed to identify high-caliber competitors who have Olympic potential and provide high-performance sport resources to help them pursue the podium.

It is the last of five events held in British Columbia, having already stopped in Prince George, Victoria, Richmond and Kamloops.

READ MORE: Olympic tryouts at Langley Events Centre

For some, the event can mean a major change of direction.

Langley’s Jordan Jacobs was selected among the 30 national winners in 2017.

Jacobs came from a track and field background and was identified as a potential Olympic athlete in rugby.

She spent the past year training in both sports but has put rugby on hold at least temporarily to focus on track and field in her final year of high school at Walnut Grove Secondary.

Should she choose to pursue rugby again, Jacobs could reapply to have her funding restored.

The 17-year-old Jacobs was able to travel to Japan last April for the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament.

What advice would she give to anyone sitting on the fence whether they should attend or not?

“They have nothing to lose, there are only things to gain from this program,” Jacobs said.

“I went into this expecting nothing more than a good workout; I never expected the great experiences I would gain and the people I would meet. Just give it a try.”

For Kieanna Stephens, a hockey player from South Surrey, the result was a switch from ice to the water.

Rowing Canada narrowed in on Stephens, much to the teenager’s surprise.

“The Rowing Canada representatives did a very good job explaining the sport and why I would be a good fit based on my results,” Stephens explained.

“They saw a lot of potential in me, so I gave it a shot.”

Stephens went on to win the Canadian Junior Worlds trials in the single and won bronze in the women’s double sculls at the World Rowing Junior Championship. She was also named the Canadian Junior Female Sculler of the Year. She is now a member of the University of Washington Huskies rowing squad.

At the event, athletes are measured for anthropometric suitability (things like wingspan and body type) and perform benchmark tests in front of officials from the Canadian Olympic Committee and national sport organizations in hopes of reenergizing a dream or being discovered and directed toward an Olympic sport.

The program is designed to help fill a hole in Canada’s amateur sport system (talent identification in a country as big as Canada) and to then provide the uncovered talent with the high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their podium dreams.

Following the national RBC Training Ground Qualifying Events, coaches and talent identification representatives from the eight participating Nation Sport Organizations (Athletics, Cycling, Rowing, Speed Skating, Canoe Kayak, Freestyle, Rugby and Snowboard) and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network will select athletes to attend second phase sport-specific testing over the spring/summer of 2019.

The top 100 athletes from across Canada will then be invited to the National Final in Calgary in September.

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