Abbotsford’s Maijken Meindertsma has caught the eye of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The 19-year-old MEI grad has been named a finalist in RBC Training Ground, the COC’s annual cross-country search for new Olympic talent.
Over the past several months more than 4,000 athletes from a wide range of sports participated in the free search, performing core speed, strength, power and endurance tests.
Meindertsma, who plays soccer at Douglas College, has been selected as one of this year’s top 100 athletes, deemed to have Olympic potential by at least one of the participating Olympic sports.
The top 100 will now compete in the event’s national final, with the chance of being one of 30 athletes to earn funding and a spot on Team Canada, in a sport they might not have considered.
Meindertsma, a 6’1 centre back, played locally with the Fraser Valley Metro, and at MEI before joining the Douglas College Royals.
“As I grew older I really started to understand what all the athletes were saying about competing for their country. You hear Olympians say things like “It’s an honour to represent my country” and now I’m actually starting to realize how incredible that would be,” Meindertsma stated. “If I’m selected by a sport I am fully prepared to make the sacrifices needed to become a future Olympian, and though I can understand the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that go into the lifestyle of a Canadian Olympian, there’s no place I’d rather pour my time and work into.”
Other recent Abbotsford athletes who have participated in the program include: Adam Bouwman (rowing), Max Kerr (rowing) and Lucienne Romero (rugby).
During the final event, athletes’ speed, power, strength, and endurance will again be tested against sport-specific, high-performance benchmarks over the course of a few hours under supervision of program sport partners and 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.
“Maijken is a soccer player, but his core abilities make him an athlete of interest for several of our participating sports,” said Evan MacInnis, Technical Director, RBC Training Ground. “He was one of the top performers Nationally for the 20m endurance shuttle run, and our program has certainly had a lot of success with soccer players.”
The 30 athletes selected for funding will be announced in early January 2022, following a nationally televised special documentary.
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 RBCTrainingground.ca
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 four won 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.