Finding podium potential


Brewer shows his his athletic abilities during a set of tests. | Photo supplied.

When Bill Brewer’s gym teacher at Merritt Secondary told him about RBC Training Ground, his interest was piqued.

Of the handful of students she thought might be interested in the event, Brewer, a 15-year-old member of the Sun Peaks-based Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nations Snowboard Team, was the only one to take on the challenge — and he’s glad he did.

RBC Training Ground is a program designed to uncover athletes with Olympic podium potential, often in sports they may not have considered.

Athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 participated in a series of physical tests measuring speed, power, strength and endurance in front of coaches and officials from national
sport organizations.

There were five qualifiers held across B.C., with the top 100 athletes earning the right to compete at the provincial final in Richmond on March 4.

Brewer travelled to the Kamloops qualifier at the Tournament Capital Centre (TCC) on Feb. 12.

Brewer sprints for a spot in the finals. Photo supplied.

“It was about pushing myself to the limit, to where I can’t go anymore,” Brewer said. “I think it went pretty well.”

Athletes took part in four events at the TCC — vertical jump, 40-metre sprint, a strength test (stand on a block and pull on a handlebar hooked to a chain) and stamina-testing beep test (yes, like the ones from high school).

“I’m not sure how they picked me, but they must have had to mark me on each test and I qualified for Richmond.”

Brewer was among the top 17 competitors at the Kamloops qualifier, meaning he earned his ticket to the provincial final in Richmond.

“There were lots of other good athletes there who train all the time,”Brewer said of the competition on the Lower Mainland. “I haven’t had as much training, but I think I did well.
“They haven’t talked to us about the results yet.”

Select athletes will be identified for additional sport-specific testing and may receive financial support from RBC toward their training and competition programs for up to three years.

The top performer at the B.C. final will be awarded a trip to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Advancing to the final is a confidence-boosting feat for Brewer, who will likely aim to improve his test numbers at Training Ground next year.

In the meantime, he’ll wrap up snowboarding season this month with his teammates at an event at Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon, B.C.

“I don’t think I’d be anywhere close to where I am now if I weren’t on that team,” Brewer said. “It’s helped a lot with the racing and everything they’ve taught us.”