Brock University played host this past Saturday to the RBC Training Ground, a program that’s designed to identify potential future Olympians to represent team Canada. The program took place in the Ian Beddis Gymnasium, where Brock has held this event for the past three years.
The Training Ground gives opportunities to athletes who might not have otherwise had a chance to showcase their abilities. The program does not cater to specific sports, but is rather built like a draft combine, a circuit of athletic tests aimed to show fundamental athletic abilities. Because of this broad athletic combine, athletes who are traditionally (for example) hockey players, may be noticed as a potential rower, or some other sport they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.
“The RBC Training Ground has been going on for four years,” said Pierre McCourt, Director of Performance Services for the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario, one of the Training Grounds’ partners. “We’ve tested over 6,500 athletes, and a number of those athletes, a number of previous winners, are now competing for [National Sport Organizations]. It really does allow a platform to identify talent, and then engage with NSOs and sports that may have otherwise never been considered, and gives an opportunity to take that further.”
The athletes, who were already well into their warm-up at 9:00 a.m., would be put through a gauntlet of tests in order to measure every possible attribute.
“What [the athletes] are going to do — which is kind of like our standard format — they’ll come in, they’ll get some anthropometry done, which is [measuring] height and weight,” said McCourt. “They’ll do a structured warm-up, and then we have a strength test, which is a mid-thigh pull that’s kind of a gross test, which sort of gives a good indicator of posterior chain strength that is important to some sports.”
“They’ll do a 30-metre sprint, which again is important to a lot of sports. They’ll do a vertical jump, which is one of the standard tests, and again correlates to explosive sports, and finally endurance at the end. They’re going to do a beep test, which is a maximum endurance effort and it’s probably the hardest test of the day — they sort of leave it all on the field.”
The Training Ground is held in cities all over the country, with the hope being that the more athletes tryout, the better chance they’ll have at finding future Olympians. As for CSI-Ontario’s role, they work with the Training Ground in order to successfully put on the physical event.
“The program is totally driven by RBC, they are the prime sponsors and drivers, the program wouldn’t be possible without them,” said McCourt. “We’re one of the delivery agents, so we help to support the technical delivery. That’s in our wheelhouse of sports science, sport medicine, and this is the first of four [Training Ground events] across Ontario. We’re at Laurier next week, then in a couple of weeks in Toronto, and then Ottawa. This is the third year we’ve been to Brock, and it wouldn’t be possible without the local support at Brock, particularly the kinesiology program here.”
Steve Lidstone, Manager of the Brock’s Sports Performance Centre and 25 other volunteers helped create a community atmosphere throughout these past few years during the RBC Training Ground.