The quest for future Canadian rowing and cycling Olympians doesn't necessarily involve the usual suspects.
Both sports have launched Island-based campaigns to go off the grid in finding fresh performers.
If you've graduated from a team sport, or become disillusioned with it, there may be a place for you in rowing.
"There are a lot of talented athletes in this country, they happen to be in other sports like lacrosse and hockey," said 2004 Athens Olympic silvermedallist rower Barney Williams of Victoria, who operates the new Row to Podium program, a threeyear $750,000 pilot initiative funded by Own the Podium.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Cycling Centre and Russ Hay's Bikes on Tuesday announced a partnership for a talent development program "that will identify athletes who have the potential to progress to elite status, and compete in World Cups, world championships and Olympic Games in the next two quadrennials. Athletes in Under-17 and Under-19 categories will be identified and those in the first year of U-23."
The first phase of the cycling program begins in November. Although all good athletes will be considered, it's helpful to have had racing experience on a bike.
The rowing outreach, which is of wider range, has already begun. Open tryouts were held over the summer at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence on the Camosun College Interurban campus for any athletes from any sports.
Williams said his program looks for the right "matrix," that combination of skill sets required to become a strong rower.
The poster boy for such programs is former McMaster University football player Jerry Brown, who had never picked up a pair of oars until just three years ago on Elk Lake, but who won silver with the Canadian men's eight at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Brown was so inspired by watching on TV as Canada won gold in the eight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, that he decided to come out to Elk Lake and try rowing after his CIS football career.
Williams wants to develop a lot of Jerry Brown prototypes, and the goals are ambitious.
"We hope to fill 25 boats across the country and then transfer them into the next level of national team programming [by eventually bringing the top performers into the national training centres at Elk Lake and in London, Ont.]," said Williams.
The last two Summer Olympic host nations China and Great Britain both successfully used such long-term development models to identify raw physical talent and then channel it into specific sports.
The World Class Start Programme in Britain began in 2001 with Lottery Sports Funding. For rowing, it looked for males between the ages of 14-20 who were a minimum of six-foot-two and females 14-22 who were a minimum of five-foot-10.
It resulted in one-third of the British rowing team for the 2012 London Olympics who have come through the program with five of those rowers winning gold.
Although the first wave of Canadian rowing tryouts has been conducted, recruitment is ongoing for Row to Podium. Info can be found at rowtopodium.ca.
The deadline to apply for the cycling program which includes road, track and mountain bike disciplines is Oct. 10.
Athletic CVs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Louise Hodgson-Jones at 250-812-2518.
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