Robin Gill took a second to wipe down the handles connected to a floor meter that measured pulling strength, then braced himself and hauled it upwards with all his might.
Gill, an Abbotsford resident who listed his sports as Tae Kwon Do and basketball, was undergoing a series of tests at the Langley Events Centre (LEC) to see if he might have the stuff to be an Olympic athlete.
Behind him was a lineup of other young athletes waiting for their turn.
RBC Training Ground was back at the LEC on Sunday, April 28, to test local athletes for strength, speed, power, and endurance as part of a coast-to-coast search for undiscovered Olympic talent.
Most of the nearly 80 hopefuls were from Langley and the Fraser Valley.
Turnout for the LEC event was smaller than more densely populated regions like Toronto, where 250 contenders showed up two weeks earlier.
Still, within that group, a small number were rated “excellent,” a score that puts them in the top two per cent in Canada, said Kurt Innes, director of talent development with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, which provides Olympic and Paralympic daily training environments to elite athletes and coaches.
“We’re finding a lot of great athletes, lots of different physical ‘giftedness,’ if you will,” Innes said.
“That’s a success for me.”
Whether the program actually adds to Canada’s gold medal count will be known by the next Olympics, in Tokyo, next summer, Innes said.
“We hopefully will have up to eight athletes who have come through the program and are representing Canada.”
At the end of the national RBC qualifying events, a short-list will be developed by coaches and talent identification representatives from the eight participating sport organizations (athletics, cycling, rowing, speed skating, canoe and kayak, freestyle, rugby and snowboard).
Based on that, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network will select athletes to attend a second phase of sport-specific testing later this year.
From that, the top 100 athletes will then be invited to the national final in Calgary in September.
Langley was the last of five RBC events held in British Columbia, having already stopped in Prince George, Victoria, Richmond and Kamloops.
Open to athletes between the ages of 14 and 25, RBC Training Ground is designed to identify high-caliber competitors who have Olympic potential and provide high-performance sport resources to help them pursue the podium.
READ MORE: Olympic tryouts at Langley Events Centre
Athletes who perform well may end up considering a switch to a different sport based on their test results, Innes said.
“It’s not poaching we’re not stealing,” Innes said.
“We’re allowing athletes to sample new sports while they’re developing.”
In 2017, Langley’s Jordan Jacobs, who came from a track and field background, was identified as a potential Olympic athlete in rugby.
She spent a year training in both sports but ultimately put rugby on hold, at least temporarily, to focus on track and field in her last year of high school at Walnut Grove Secondary.
“I went into this expecting nothing more than a good workout,” Jacobs said.
“I never expected the great experiences I would gain and the people I would meet.”
The 17-year-old Jacobs was able to travel to Japan last April for the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament.
If she decides to pursue rugby again, Jacobs could reapply to have her funding restored.
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