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RBC Training Ground

TORONTO -- Meghan Harris has always loved the Olympics, but never dreamed she could actually become an Olympian.

“Watching the Olympics was such a big part of growing up. I was one of the kids who couldn’t get enough. During the [2014 Winter Games] in Sochi, I would take extra-long bathroom breaks to watch the broadcast in the library.” Harris, 22, said in an interview.

The nursing student has always played sports, but she discovered rowing in the second year of her undergraduate degree and fell in love. She didn’t think she was good enough to compete at higher levels — until she heard about RBC Training Ground.

“I’m on the cusp of entering the workforce in nursing, but if there’s one last thing I can do to really throw my name out there (as an athlete)... I’m going to do it,” Harris said.

When RBC Training Ground, the nation-wide talent identification and athlete funding program, visited her university last year, she couldn’t attend due to a conflict in her schedule. Then the tryouts were moved online due to the pandemic.

“Obviously (the pandemic) is not a great thing, but to have this virtual way to submit (athletic test results) really suited me and I knew I had to take advantage of it,” Harris said.

For Malachi Hector-Callum, a 17-year-old cross country athlete, the motivation to apply to RBC Training Ground was slightly different, but his end goal was the same: get to the Olympics.

“I saw the commercial and went on the website, and then I saw the results,” Hector-Callum said. “There were a lot of athletes with fast progression, people who applied two years ago and now they’re competing in Tokyo. I thought ‘maybe I should try this.’”

The Mississauga, Ont. resident was actually relieved to be applying virtually.

“I had no one to compare myself. I was just trying to do the best I could do,” Hector-Callum said. “I’m open to any kind of sport.”

The most attractive part of the program for Hector-Callum is the structure and accessibility it provides.

“(Before RBC Training Ground), I didn’t see a clear path to the Olympics,” he said. “Training Ground lays it out so clearly, and they provide support. It’s hard to compete, train and pay for it all. They also provide funding to help you accomplish your goals.”

Like Hector-Callum, Harris would love to be identified as one of the best in her primary sport, but she’s open to anything.

“I’d be more than happy to try another (sport),” Harris said. “If I can get noticed and get more involved in high performance sport, that would make me really happy. I just want to go to the Olympics.”

RBC Training Ground is usually hosted in-person, but due to COVID-19, it has moved online for the 2020-2021 season. That means young Canadian athletes from any sports background have access to RBC Training Ground talent scouts in a virtual format.

For more information on RBC Training Ground, and how to participate, visit RBCTrainingGround.ca.

RBC Training Ground participants deemed to have high performance potential will be invited to complete sport-specific testing with National Sport Organization partners. From there, 100 athletes will be invited to the RBC Training Ground National Final (scheduled for spring 2021), with the chance to earn funding and a potential spot on a Canadian National Team.

Developed in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Olympic Foundation and with support from the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, RBC Training Ground is a nation-wide talent identification and athlete-funding program dedicated to finding and funding Canada's future Olympians. In the past five years more than $1.7M has been provided to 117 RBC Future Olympians to help support their Olympic dreams.