Canadian Sport Institute aligns with oval

National level athletes Christine Girard (wrestling) and Trevor Hirschfield (wheelchair rugby) are looking forward to the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific ‘s launch at the Richmond Olympic Oval July 2. - sub
National level athletes Christine Girard (wrestling) and Trevor Hirschfield (wheelchair rugby) are looking forward to the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific ‘s launch at the Richmond Olympic Oval July 2.
— image credit: sub

In the months leading up to the 2010 Winter Games, the Richmond Olympic Oval was abuzz. And Canadian speed skaters helped to provide much of the excitement.

With the oval home to long track speed skating during the Games, many members of the national team set up shop locally. It wasn't uncommon for oval members to find themselves riding a stationary bike alongside the likes of Christine Nesbitt or Cindy Klassen.

Now with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific about to begin a strategic alliance with the oval, it is hoped a new generation of sports heroes will be spawned here.

"Here, a young person can find a path that might lead to a healthy, active lifestyle, a lifelong love affair with sport or the Olympic or Paralympic podium," said John Mills, the oval's chief operating officer. "We are passionate about all these outcomes."

Oval program manager Aran Kay expects the presence of more high performance athletes will be a source of inspiration for other young athletes.

"If you think of any accomplished athlete all have at least one story of meeting their hero when they were young," said Kay.

“The chances of that happening to more people certainly increases with this. To say they met so-and-so when they were seven at the oval, I think will inspire more youth for sure."

Starting July 2, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, working in conjunction with the oval's high performance department, will use the facilities at the oval to provide a world-class, multisport daily training environment for athletes and coaches.

"The biggest thing is that it will all be provided under one roof—everything from strength and conditioning, performance nutrition to performance analysis, physiological testing and health services (in conjunction with LifeMark Sport Medical)," said Kay. "I can't think of many places where you can do that and it's a pretty big advantage for locals. I think one day there's going to be a person who started here standing on a Olympic podium."

In a press release, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific chief executive officer Wendy Pattenden said there is something unique in the air at the oval.

"We hope that the legacy of the Olympic gold medals that were won in the facility will serve as inspiration to the athletes and coaches training in the daily training environment," she said.

"Having the high performance training facility and the performance services all under one roof will allow for the optimal training environment," said Trevor Hirschfield, captain of Canada's national wheelchair rugby team. "This partnership will really enhance the daily training environment of our team."

Christine Girard, an Olympic bronze medalist in weightlifting at the 2012 Games, is "thrilled" to have an ideal space to work in.

"As a coach and as an athlete, I know how important Canadian Sport Institute Pacific is to supporting the development of every level of athlete, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them grow even more with the oval's help," she said.

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