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Keeping her Olympic dreams alive

Through the RBC Training Ground program, Queen's student and volleyball player Jacklynn Boyle now finds herself pursuing her dreams on the cycling track.

A year ago, Jacklynn Boyle was a third-year life sciences student at Queen’s and an outside hitter on the Gaels women’s volleyball team.

Then she took part in the RBC Training Ground program.

[Jacklynn Boyle tests in the power jump during RBC Training Ground]
Jacklynn Boyle tests in the power jump at the RBC Training Ground event in Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Light)

Today she is a member of the Canadian national cycling team and was also recruited by the national women’s bobsled team.

It has been a whirlwind 12 months, and, perhaps most importantly, she’s still on track to graduate in April.

RBC Training Ground is a series of cross-Canada athletic search events designed to bring undiscovered talent into the Canadian Olympic pipeline, while at the same time helping athletes take the next step. In the first stage of the program, athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 are tested for speed, power, strength, and endurance at free events. Identified athletes are then recruited for a sport that suits their abilities and, if successful, can receive funding support from RBC.

Boyle's results were so strong, particularly in the explosive power tests, that she was recruited by officials from both Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and Cycling Canada.

“It’s kind of crazy that a year ago I was still playing volleyball and was planning to go to medical school – which I still hopefully will do in the future,” she says. “The RBC program is absolutely amazing for finding people who have athletic ability and seeing if they can transfer it into another sport. It’s amazing. I have always wanted to go to the Olympics for something. The coaches are so talented for picking out a person. In bobsled and cycling they only saw me do 10 tests and met with me once before asking me to try out. It’s crazy that they were able to decipher which athletes have ability and which ones they think can transfer.”

Following the first tryout at Queen’s last March Boyle advanced to the provincial event in Toronto. She then traveled to Calgary for two separate bobsleigh training sessions at the Ice House.  She also visited Milton, west of Toronto, and trained on the velodrome track for Cycling Canada. At both events, she once again impressed.

But she couldn’t pursue both sports. She had to make a choice.

In the end it was the opportunity to complete her studies and graduate that helped her decide to hop on the bike instead of in the bobsleigh.

It has been hectic mixing studies and training but she is feeling positive about her prospects on both fronts.

“Basically all summer and into September I was studying for my MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) but I was also going to Calgary or to Milton for the tryouts,” she says. “It was a lot and it was very busy but it also felt so surreal that they put me in a bobsled and they put me onto the velodrome track without a lot of preparation. They kind of just wanted to see how I could adapt.”

Not only did she adapt, she excelled. RBC recently announced that Boyle is one of 30 athletes from the original 3,182 tested, who will receive funding to pursue her Olympic dream.

Once her studies are complete this April, Boyle will relocate to Milton where she will join Cycling Canada's elite development program.

“They’ve already put me on a workout program and I have a bike and rollers and everything so I am getting the gist of cycling but starting in April I will be training full time,” she says. “My goal, I know there are a lot of steps before the Olympics, but I really hope to compete at the World Cup level this year.”

She is thankful for her support from her family – it was her mom who signed her up for RBC Training Ground – as well as from Queen’s University. Along with being allowed to take the time for the tryouts by volleyball head coach Ryan Ratushniak, she is now working with Athletics and Recreation’s strength and conditioning team to keep her in top shape and be ready for when she starts her ride to the Olympics.

Visit the RBC Training Ground website for more information, including local event information and the complete 2019 calendar.