Rockwood’s Cole Dempster has been named a finalist in the Canadian Olympic Committee’s RBC Training Ground.
The invitation comes after the 17-year-old Acton High School student made fast progress in track cycling, a sport he was introduced to through RBC’s annual cross-country talent search.
“I have done a lot of different sports over the years and recently found my passion, track cycling,” said Dempster, whose sister Madison was a former gymnast before also being identified for track cycling at RBC Training Ground in 2019.
“This is the second national final I have been invited to and I know how amazing these events are. I look forward to having the opportunity to compete at the highest level, testing my skills and abilities against top athletes and achieving my personal best.”
Now in its eighth year, RBC Training Ground is a nation-wide talent identification and athlete-funding program dedicated to finding and supporting the next generation of Canadian Olympians.
This year 2,200 athletes, aged 14-25, participated in local qualifier events across the country, performing core speed, strength, power and endurance tests in front of Olympic talent scouts to find the sport for which they are most suited.
The top 100 deemed to have great Olympic potential will now compete in the RBC Training Ground national final on December 2nd in Toronto. Thirty athletes from the final will earn funding, a spot on Team Canada with one of twelve partner national sport organizations, and an accelerated path to the Olympics.
Cycling Canada coach Tanya Dubnicoff, began working with Dempster after he was identified at an RBC Training Ground event in 2022.
“Cole has made a tremendous transformation in one year. With his inclusion into the National team program in May, he has benefited from top coaching and on-track training. This led to a bronze medal at the recent Junior World Track championships,” Dubnicoff said.
“I’m glad Cole is back competing for the boost that can come with winning RBC Training Ground. He would really benefit from RBC support to help fund continuous high-performance training.”
Dempster said winning the bronze medal is one of his greatest moments as an athlete.
“After returning from Junior Worlds in Cali, Columbia, I am now determined to continue training and come back even stronger for 2024,” he said.
“Training on the national team, is one step closer for me for fulfilling my dream of competing at the Olympics,” he said.
Dempster trains in Milton and is thankful for all the support received from family and friends.
“Everyone is so supportive. And my coach, Rob Good from my old team, was such a huge help last year. I had to really work at getting faster to qualify for Worlds. He pushed me to train harder, and I ended up qualifying,” Dempster said.
“My family is proud and my friends are really happy for me. I’m really lucky because I have such supportive teachers. I miss a lot of school because the national team hours, but my teachers have been very understanding.”
The top 100, who will have transportation, hotel and food covered by RBC, will be joined at the final by RBC Training Ground alumni and Olympic medalists.
Dempster said he is thrilled to have found his one true sport, cycling.
“What I love about cycling, after trying so many different sports, is definitely just the sprinting part of it. It's so much fun being able to go so fast, over 80 km around a track. It's such an amazing feeling,” Dempster said.
“It’s just awesome, and definitely being with my team everyday, being a part of that is really special.”
The 30 athletes selected for funding will be announced early in 2024.
“My goal right now, is just to really focus on this. I hope to get to the 2028 Olympics and then potentially the 2032 Olympics,” Dempster said.
“Regardless of the outcome, the experience of competing at the national final is something I will remember throughout my sporting journey.”
The complete list of 100 finalists is available at RBCTrainingground.ca
Since its inception in 2016, the RBC Training Ground program has tested 13,000 athletes at free local events across Canada, with close to 2,000 being identified as having Olympic potential.