Jordan Jacobs won during the Fraser Valley track championships in 2017. (Owen Munro/Black Press)

Young Langley athlete receives aid to pursue her Olympic dream

A Walnut Grove Secondary student, who excels in track, is giving rugby a go.

Jordan Jacobs, 16, has Olympic potential, and she just took a huge step towards realizing that dream.

This Grade 11 Walnut Grove Secondary student was one of only six athlete picked from more than 2,100 people to train with Rugby Canada as a potential Olympic contender.

Yet, she had admittedly never picked up a rugby ball before.

Jacobs was one of about 60 Langley athletes who attended a RBC Training Ground screening event held in Langley at this time last year, and one of only 12 invited to move on to the regionals in Richmond.

The result, Jacobs excelled at not one, but three sports. And out of 30 athletes ultimately selected, she’s earn a spot with Rugby Canada.

Jacobs, who won gold in the 100m and 200m distances at the Fraser Valley Fraser Valley track and field championships in 2017, caught the eye of several sports organizations at last year’s Training Ground – meeting no fewer than seven elite benchmarks in the supports of rugby, rowing, and cycling.

Her results, however, were “so impressive,” said RBC Training Ground spokesman Brian Findlay, that Rugby Canada jumped at the chance to train her.

They saw what they call Jacobs’ “raw talent” and her potential as a future Olympian, Findlay added.

What she’s still in awe about is that she’d never once thought of joining a rugby team, and now, she’s been to a summer training camp in Victoria, an elite training session in Burnaby, currently playing with the Bayside Rugby Club, and attending the Canada trials in early February.

“I thought I performed well in all the tests, but especially in the speed test. After I finished the speed test a representative from Rugby Canada introduced himself to me and asked if I had heard of rugby, specifically rugby sevens. We talked for only a few minutes and a couple months later I received an email inviting me to a rugby camp.”

Consequently, the Langley track star is now a part of the Rugby Canada development program and is heading off early next month to the youth Olympic Games West.

The Langley Mustangs sprinter insists track and field is still her favourite sport, but admitted – after being introduced to rugby, and specifically rugby seven – it is fast becoming a “close second.”

The Training Ground wasn’t even something on Jacobs’ radar, that is until her track coach encouraged several of the team’s athletes to attend.

“I had absolutely zero expectations of what to expect or any outcomes, I was just going for the experience,” she recounted her motivation. “A new opportunity and I wanted to test my fitness level.”

Does this mean the local athlete will be giving up track?

“No. Right now, I’m able to pursue my goals in track, along with my new goals in rugby,” she told the Langley Advance.

“To be honest I’m not too sure yet,” where this new opportunity is going to take her. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. But I’m really grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me through this process. I look forward to seeing where my future goes with rugby sevens,” she shared.

Her success at Training Ground also ensured that she’ll receive some funding assistance from RBC to help offset travel, coaching, and nutrition expenses.

While none of this still guarantees Jacobs a spot at the Olympics, she is increasingly hopeful.

“For me, it was more of a dream than a goal to go to the Olympics. I never thought I would have a possibility to go.”

Jacobs is living proof that attending the RBC Training Ground can pay off, and she confirmed that just ahead of the screening session happening in Langley next month.

She recommends other Langley athletes give it a shot.

“You never know what’s out there. I would have never tried playing rugby sevens on my own, and that’s the great thing about RBC Training Ground,” Jacobs said.

“It gives athletes the chance to identify for sports they potentially never heard of, or thought they would excel at. Overall, the Training Ground was such a great experience.”

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Training Ground seeks athletes

While Jacobs is embarking on her Olympic quest, the hunt for other locals with potential is continuing.

RBC Training Ground allows athletes to gauge their strength, speed, and endurance in front of officials from 14 Olympic sports, with the goal of being “discovered” and helping to secure funding.

Some of those sports officials will be back in Langley again on Saturday, Feb. 3, looking for more locals with untapped sports skills.

This Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and RBC initiative is designed to bring new and undiscovered athletes into Canada’s Olympic talent pool to the forefront.

Overall, the program is designed to help fill a hole in Canada’s amateur sport system and to then provide those talented individuals with the high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their podium dreams.

Officials from Canadian Sport Institute Pacific and the national sports organizations (Canada Snowboard, Canada Basketball, Cross Country Ski Canada, Wrestling, Speed Skating Canada, Athletics Canada, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Canoe Kayak Canada, Cycling Canada, Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada, Freestyle Canada, Judo Canada and Water Polo Canada) will all be in Langley soon, searching for what they describe as “hidden gems”and “potential cross-over talent.”

Participation in the Training Ground is free, and the event is open to local young athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 from a wide range of traditional and non-traditional sports.

As many as 100 athletes from the Langley area are expected to participate in the third annual Training Ground session that starts at the Langley Events Centre at 9 a.m. on Feb. 3.

Those interested can sign up in advance at rbc-trainingground.ca.

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