By Melissa Humana-Parades
This past fall I attended the RBC Training Ground as an RBC Olympian to check out talented young people from around Toronto who are hoping to become the next Canadian Olympian. To my shock there were not one or two viable athletes suited for the role, but more than 20! The RBC Training Ground is a sport combine that invites athletes between the ages of 14-25 to participate in a series of fitness tests measuring speed, power, strength and endurance, while a number of Canada’s national sport organizations look on, hoping to discover athletes with real Olympic potential.
To my surprise, I realized that had I been part of the combine as a developing athlete, I would not have been consistently ranked in the top 10 of any of the categories! In fact, myself and former RBC Training Ground winner Pierce LePage, decided to try the endurance test on the assault bikes for a few rounds. Let’s just say the name is true to the exercise: it was definitely an assault (on my lungs and legs)!! Growing up in a volleyball family, I had a very organic entrance to my sport and often wonder what sport other than beach volleyball I could have played at a high level. It’s incredible that there is an opportunity for young athletes to showcase skills and abilities that might go unnoticed or alternatively, to give them the chance to be discovered in sports that they may not have considered previously. While there may have only been one winner, RBC and Canada’s NSOs will additionally support upwards of 30 developing athletes!
Being an elite athlete, I know what it takes to perform physical tests as tough as the ones at Training Ground. These young athletes displayed incredible athleticism which makes me wonder, would their skills and talent have been discovered without the resources and support that RBC provided to fuel their dreams?