Two high-profile Canadian swimmers were among the 47 world-class Canadian athletes announced Wednesday as part of the RBC Olympians Program from 2013 through 2015.
Torontonian Martha McCabe, a 2012 Olympic finalist and 2011 FINA World Championships bronze medallist in women’s 200-m breaststroke, will join Paralympic legend Benoit Huot in the program. Huot added his 23rd world championships medal to his resume this summer at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, to go along with 19 Paralympic medals.
The RBC Olympians Program, which began in 2002, is a national initiative that provides elite athletes with an opportunity to gain valuable career experience alongside a flexible work schedule, to allow the time necessary to train and compete on the world stage. Athletes who participate in the program gain skills and experiences that help them to achieve success both on and off the field of play.
“Investing in our athletes is an investment in Canada, and we are thrilled to welcome these 47 incredible athletes to the RBC Olympians Program,” said Dave McKay, Group Head, Personal and Commercial Banking, RBC. “RBC has a longstanding tradition of being committed to helping Canadian athletes succeed–on and off the field of play and in their transition to life after sport. We’re here today to continue this important relationship.”
RBC Olympians act as community ambassadors in cities and towns across Canada – to share past experiences and Olympic accomplishments with students, communities, clients and employees. These athlete ambassadors work to champion and raise awareness about the importance of sport in daily life, inspiring the next generation to be physically active, make healthy decisions and participate in sports, no matter the level.
McCabe has had opportunities to speak publicly in the past, and says she’s looking forward to sharing her journey and story on a larger scale.
“It is a really great opportunity,” McCabe said. “The big thing for me is showing people that I am just a normal person, just one of them. It’s just how I went after my goals that made me an Olympic finalist. I want to get the message across they can do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be sport - it could be business, or for the little kids maybe it’s math or piano.”
In addition, athletes gain work experience within RBC to develop the necessary business skills to have a career after sport. At today’s event, RBC also announced that since the program began, nearly 200 current and retired Olympic and Paralympic athletes have participated in the RBC Olympians Program, with 10 becoming full-time RBC employees.
“They provide flexible work hours so I can go in between practices for a couple hours when I’m in Toronto and just get a feel for what an office type job is like,” McCabe said. “As an athlete I’ve always been interested in marketing, because we market ourselves, so that piques my interest, but I’m open to see all the different sides of it. I definitely want to see what everything is about.”
“Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes are some of our country’s greatest assets and they are proof that the power of sport can improve our society, inspire and bring Canadians together,” said Marcel Aubut, President, COC. “Our athletes embody the true spirit of sport and Canada–though they may compete in individual events, they come together as a team and rally an entire country behind their efforts.”
Huot is among the returnees to the RBC Olympians roster, which includes well-known Canadian Olympians and Vancouver 2010 gold-medalists Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue (Figure Skating), 2013 World Champion Patrick Chan (Figure Skating), Marc Kennedy (Curling), and Jayna Hefford (Ice Hockey) as well as Greg Westlake, captain of the Canadian men’s sledge hockey team.
With the upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games mere months away, all RBC Olympians will be looked up to by young Canadian athletes from across the country that dream of one day competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Canadians rally behind our athletes–it’s in our DNA as a proud, patriotic country,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport), also present for today’s announcement. “Our Olympic and Paralympic athletes embody the true spirit of Canada, dedicating themselves to their sport and proudly representing their country on the world stage.”