One day, Kieanna Stephens may compete for Canada at the Olympics, but she’ll get a taste of the Games a whole lot sooner, after winning a trip to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Stephens, a 16-year-old Earl Marriott Secondary student, won the five-day Olympic trip late last month, after beating out the competition at the RBC Training Ground event at the Richmond Oval.
The event, for invited athletes between the ages of 14 and 25, tested speed, power, strength and endurance through a series of workouts. The goal of the one-day program was to help the young athletes uncover potential “hidden talents” for Olympic sports they may not otherwise consider.
Four regional camps were held across the country – in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, in addition to Richmond – and 10 athletes from each were chosen to receive addition funding, resources and coaching for their future athletic endeavours.
“At first, I was hoping to just be one of the 10 athletes they picked, but it turned out that I won the top prize. It was really unexpected,” said Stephens, who was invited to the event because she’d previously taken a hockey camp at the Oval facility.
Coaches at the Training Ground event put Stephens and the other athletes through a series of tests, including sprints, jumping exercises, and work with medicine balls and rowing machines. Stephens was identified as a potential rower.
“They thought that rowing would be a good fit for me. One of the coaches scored me some statistics and numbers for a rower, and my numbers from the drills met or exceeded them,” she explained.
“Strength for sure, is my strong suit, and I think endurance probably, too.”
Though hockey is her top priority – she currently plays with the midget ‘A’ Surrey Falcons – Stephens said she’d definitely be interested in rowing in the future.
She would certainly appear to have not only the skills and physical attributes to adapt to a new sport, but also the genes.
Her older brother, Devante, currently plays defence for the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets – and was a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres last summer – while her parents both come from athletic backgrounds, as well.
“My mom played softball at a high level, and my dad played semi-pro football, and did a lot of track in high school,” she explained.
“I’d definitely love to make it to that level in a sport, whether it’s hockey or any of these (new sports). It’s most athletes’ dream to make it to the Olympics and represent your country.
“So for sure, I’d give it a try. You can never play too many sports.”