North Delta’s Brielle Zacharias is Calgary-bound in her quest to one day represent Canada at the Olympic Games.
The 17-year-old sport climber is one of 100 athletes set to compete in the first-ever RBC Training Ground final, a national talent identification and athlete funding program designed to uncover young athletes between the ages of 14-25 with Olympic potential and provide them with the high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their podium dreams, according to the program’s website.
The finalists, selected from a pool almost 2000 athletes across Canada, will be competing in Calgary, Alta. on Saturday, Sept. 14 to be one of up to 30 athletes who will receive funding and support to reach their dreams of representing Canada at the Olympic Games.
“Training Ground is definitely a big deal,” she said in an email to the North Delta Reporter. “I think being with the top 100 athletes across Canada that went to the qualifier events is really important (if I want to) reach the next level.”
Fresh off competing at the IFSC Youth World Championships in Arco, Italy last month — where she finished 26th in Youth A female speed climbing — it’s safe to say Zacharias is pumped to show what she can do.
“Becoming an Olympian is a dream for most high level athletes, so naturally it’s also one of mine,” she said. “Representing Canada on that big of a world stage would be overwhelming, but in a good way.”
Zacharia is one of two Delta athletes set to compete in the finals. Joining her in Calgary will be Sophie Gower, a 14-year-old multi-sport athlete who rows for the Delta Deas Rowing Club and plays basketball at South Delta Secondary.
RBC Training Ground is a combine where athletes from different disciplines and sports are tested on their agility, stamina, strength, speed and power by representatives from Athletics Canada, Freestyle Canada, Canada Snowboard, Speed Skating Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada and Canoe Kayak Canada.
Zacharias and the other finalists will also have the opportunity to pick the brains of Olympic champions Justin Kripps (two-man bobsleigh, 2018), Patrick Chan (team figure skating, 2018) and Penny Oleksiak (100m freestyle swim, 2016), as well as Tokyo 2020 medal hopeful Melissa Humana-Paredes (world number one in beach volleyball), who will all be on site to help inspire the participants.
Zacharias said she’s ready for her moment.
“I train three days a week, three hours each in the climbing gym. I also do strength and conditioning training on my own. I also like working out and feeling like I tried hard so that’s helpful,” she said.
“Brielle has always had an incredible work ethic when it comes to sport and fitness,” her father, Scott Zacharias, said in an email. “My daughter is having an incredible time, competing with other athletes from all across Canada. (…) It make us very proud to see Brielle competing at the international level.”
Though she’s no stranger to representing Canada internationally, having competed at two world championships and one Pan-Am championship, Saturday’s Training Ground event will still be an exciting moment for Zacharias.
“I’ll get that feeling like when you are on a roller coaster, where your stomach is feeling all weird but you also love it and want to keep riding it,” she mused.
“I’m not that nervous, just excited. Maybe when I’m in the venue I could get some nerves, but overall I think I will just feel blessed and ready to give it my all.”