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Posted: October 19, 2021

Local multi-sport athlete makes Olympic talent search final

Fernie’s Emma Nieuwesteeg has been named a finalist in the Canadian Olympic Committee’s free annual cross-country search for new Olympic talent.

Emma Nieuwesteeg

Over the past several months more than 4,000 athletes participated in RBC Training Ground, performing core speed, strength, power and endurance tests in the hopes of being noticed by one of eight participating Olympic sports. Some athletes completed the tests in person, and some using a virtual format.

Nieuwesteeg, 20, has been selected as one of this year’s top 100 athletes, deemed to have Olympic potential. The former figure skater and Fernie Academy student was nominated for the final by Cycling Canada.

“I was really surprised to be selected by one of the sports, to be honest, since I haven’t been a competitive athlete for a few years now, and I did the testing out in the snow after some downhill skiing,” said Nieuwesteeg. “But now I’m really excited to try something new and fast-paced in track cycling.”

RBC Training Ground is open to athletes between the ages of 14 and 24.

“Emma is a determined athlete,” said Jenny Trew, lead NextGen Coach, Cycling Canada. “While she was identified through the endurance standards for cycling, she also showed in the sprint testing when she got on the lab bike. Emma turned coaches’ heads with her enthusiasm on the velodrome and we’re looking to see where her dedication and strength can take her.”

During RBC Training Ground National Final testing, athletes’ speed, power, strength, and endurance will again be tested against sport-specific, high-performance benchmarks over the course of a few hours in individual or small group formats (as local COVID 19 safety protocols allow). An athlete’s anthropomorphic measurements (height, wingspan, etc), sport-specific testing and competitive sport history also play a role in who is selected for funding.

“Emma’s results in the core athletic testing are outstanding,” said Evan MacInnis, Technical Director, RBC Training Ground. “Even though she is primarily a recreational athlete (skiing and cycling) RBC Training Ground is opening up a new pathway for her to pursue sport at the highest levels. She is the type of athlete this program is designed to discover.”

The 30 athletes selected for funding will be announced in early January 2022, following a nationally televised special documentary.

The funding is administered by the participating National Sport Organization bringing the athlete into its system, and is used for things like coaching, transportation, travel, equipment, and nutrition.

The complete list of 100 finalists is available at in the community/news section.

Over the past six years RBC Training Ground has identified more than 1,400 athletes deemed to have Olympic potential (many in a sport they had never considered).

At the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, eight RBC Training Ground athletes competed and won four medals: Kelsey Mitchell (a varsity soccer player until discovered by RBC Training Ground in 2017, Gold, Sprint Track Cycling; Avalon Wasteneys, Gold, Rowing; Lauriane Genest, Bronze, Sprint Track Cycling; Jerome Blake, Bronze, 4×100 Athletics).

The following National Sport Organization partners participate in RBC Training Ground to identify athletes: Boxing Canada, Nordic Combined Canada, Ski Jumping Canada, Speed Skating Canada, Freestyle Ski Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada and Canoe Kayak Canada.

A new season of RBC Training Ground will be launching in early 2022.

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