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RBC Training Ground launches new testing season with a focus on reaching Indigenous athletes

Press Release

TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2023 – Today, RBC is proud to announce the return of RBC Training Ground with its continued mission to discover Canada’s athletic talent. The program welcomes four new sport partners and will also host dedicated testing events for Indigenous athletes – offering more opportunity for young athletes to pursue their Olympic dreams.

In addition to the 17 free qualifying events for athletes aged 14-25 across the country, RBC Training Ground is hosting custom testing events for North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) provincial delegations, including Alberta and Saskatchewan, as they prepare for NAIG 2023. These efforts build upon RBC’s sponsorship of NAIG 2023, where more than 5,000 Indigenous athletes, coaches and team staff from over 756 Indigenous Nations, will gather in Kjipuktuk Halifax) to celebrate sport and culture.

“We recognize that Indigenous athletes in Canada experience barriers to participating in sport. We hope that by bringing RBC Training Ground to regional NAIG events, we’re making it easier for Indigenous athletes to chase their Olympic dreams,” said Shannon Cole, Vice-President, Brand Marketing, RBC. “We truly believe in the power of sport to unite and inspire our communities, and we look forward to working with new sport partners and communities to continue to develop the next generation of Team Canada.”

“We are pleased to welcome RBC as a major partner of NAIG 2023,” said Brendon Smithson, CEO, NAIG 2023 Host Society. “The Games help Indigenous youth to realize their collective potential of their bodies, minds and spirits. We’re appreciative of RBC’s commitment to help improve the quality of life, and overall health and well-being of Indigenous athletes, individuals and communities.”

RBC Training Ground is an athletic talent identification program dedicated to finding and funding Canada’s future Olympians. Thirteen athletes who were discovered and funded through RBC Training Ground have competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, with seven becoming Olympic Medallists. Among them are program alumni Jerome Blake (Silver Medallist in Athletics – Relay 4x100m), Kelsey Mitchell (Gold Medallist in Track Cycling – Women’s Sprint) and Marion Thénault (Bronze Medallist in Freestyle Skiing – Mixed Team Aerials), the latter two of whom did not have experience in their Olympic sport before attending an RBC Training Ground event. RBC Training Ground was developed in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Olympic Foundation, with support from the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network.

“RBC Training Ground has proven to be a valuable incubator for Team Canada,” said Eric Myles, Chief Sport Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “Alongside our sport partners, we are so proud to be part of this incredible program. It’s important that more athletes from Indigenous communities get the opportunity to compete on the national and international stage, and we’re looking forward to watching this next generation of athletes pursue their Olympic dreams.”

“We’re incredibly proud to work with partners like RBC who so intrinsically share our Olympic values,” said Jacqueline Ryan, Chief Brand and Commercial Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. “By extending the RBC Training Ground opportunity to more Indigenous communities across the country, it’s proof that our partners are equally committed to the Team Canada Impact Agenda goal of making sport inclusive and barrier-free so more young people can play and stay in sport. We can’t wait to kick off another year of this inspiring program!”

At each qualifying event this year, participants will perform speed, strength, power, and endurance benchmark testing in front of National Sport Organizations (NSO) partners. New NSO partners Boxing Canada, Climbing Escalade Canada, Triathlon Canada and Wrestling Canada Lutte join longstanding partners like Cycling Canada and Rowing Canada to discover athletes for their national teams. Following the National Final later this year where 100 hopefuls will compete, the top 30 athletes will be selected as RBC Future Olympians to receive funding, mentorship, and other resources to pursue their Olympic dreams.

Since its inception in 2016, RBC Training Ground has tested 12,000 athletes across Canada, with more than 1,600 athletes being identified by National Sport Organizations as having Olympic potential – many in a sport they had never considered. The list of National Sport Organization program partners in 2023 is available here. Registration and the most up-to-date event information for all local RBC Training Ground events is available at RBCTrainingGround.ca.

For more than 25 years, RBC has been committed to the reconciliation journey, working with Indigenous Peoples and communities through specific initiatives designed to generate genuine and meaningful change. Our annual partnership report – A Chosen Journey – celebrates Indigenous successes and affirms our commitment to the Indigenous community. Since 2009, A Chosen Journey has demonstrated our long history of partnering with Indigenous communities across Canada.

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 95,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank and one of the largest in the world, based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 27 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-social-impact.

About the Canadian Olympic Committee

The Canadian Olympic Committee believes sport has the power to transform Canada. Through the Team Canada Impact Agenda and together with our partners, the COC is committed to making sport safe, inclusive and barrier-free so more young people can play and stay in sport. Learn more at olympic.ca.

Brianne Sommerville, RBC Communications, 437-228-5396

Peter Saltsman, Canadian Olympic Committee, 416-324-4304

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