Halifax’s Marlee MacIntosh is one step closer to reaching her goal of representing Canada at the Olympics in 2024.
The 21-year-old canoe sprinter from Clayton Park has been named among the top 30 athletes selected in the RBC Training Ground Olympic talent search.
It's is a nationwide program that aims to identify and support talented athletes with potential as Canada’s future Olympians.
“It means a lot,” says MacIntosh. “Just having their support is really encouraging and has helped me refocus on my Olympic dream.”
MacIntosh is not the only local athlete in the program either. Among the top selections in the program are 18-year-old Faith Tilley, a Halifax rugby player who attends the University of Victoria as well as 20-year-old fellow canoe sprinter Julia Lilley Osende from Dartmouth.
According to a news release, “all earned RBC Future Olympian funding and multiple-year commitments from their national sports organizations as a result of the raw talent they displayed in basic testing.”
“You get funding,” notes MacIntosh about one of the specific perks of being selected an RBC Future Olympian. “I’m going to a training camp in California for three months so they’re helping to fund that as well as other expenses — like racing fees and other expenses for travel in competition as well so it’s really nice!”
MacIntosh has been involved in the RBC Training Ground program since 2019 when she first applied. Although her testing elevated her among the top 100, it wouldn’t be until this latest round that the canoe sprinter would crack the top 30, establishing her as a RBC Future Olympian.
“I’ve been dreaming about the Olympics since I was in elementary school,” says MacIntosh about her goal to represent Canada at the 2024 Olympics. “I remember watching the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and that really got me dreaming about being there one day.”
Of course, MacIntosh’s dream began long before watching Vancouver Games in 2010. In fact, MacIntosh says she discovered the water sport of canoeing when she was about seven years old.
“My uncle was a canoer so that’s how my family knew about the sport,” says MacIntosh. “But then the club is really close to my house so it just kind of became a summer camp at the start.”
From there, MacIntosh began to get more involved in the sport until she was eventually part of the club’s high performance program. Although she eventually realized she had a talent in sprint canoe, it wasn’t until 2020 that the sport was introduced as an Olympic event.
“That’s been a goal of mine for a long, long time,” says the third-year kinesiology Dalhousie University student about performing at the Olympics. “(But) it was never really possible until this past Olympics.”
Although only 30 people are chosen, more than 4,000 athletes from the ages of 14 to 24 are able to participate in the RBC Training Ground search.
As part of the search, athletes complete core speed, strength, power and endurance tests in front of talent scouts from nine different National Sport organizations.
“If you’ve ever thought about being an Olympian or seeing if you are suited for an Olympic sport, just go to RBCTrainingGround.ca,” says Halifax gymnast Ellie Black, also an ambassador for the RBC Training Ground program. “Why not see if it works because we’ve had so many athletes actually represent Canada at the Olympics and medal and it’s just been incredible to be a part of that.”
Since it was formed six years ago, RBC Training Ground has identified more than 1,400 athletes with Olympic potential. At the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, eight RBC Training Ground athletes competed with four winning medals.
“I’m hoping 2024. That’s been a goal of mine for a long, long time,” adds MacIntosh about her target for the Olympic Games with help from the RBC Training Ground. “It would literally mean the world to me.”
For more information on the RBC Training Ground, visit the website.