RBC Training Ground will hold events on centrally located university campuses in eight provinces in 2020 ©COC

A nationwide talent identification and athlete-funding programme dedicated to finding and supporting the next generation of Canadian Olympians is entering its fifth year.

Since its inception in 2016, RBC Training Ground has tested 8,000 athletes at more than 100 free local events across Canada.

At each event, participants perform speed, strength, power and endurance benchmark testing in front of national sport organisations.

In 2020, RBC Training Ground will hold events on centrally located university campuses in eight provinces, culminating with a national final to be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, timed with the province's 150th anniversary.

The second-ever national final will bring together the top 100 high-potential athletes from across the country to compete for funding and a spot on one of nine partner sport organisations' teams.

Up to 30 high-performing athletes will be selected as RBC Future Olympians to receive funding, mentorship and other resources as they pursue their Olympic Games dream.

Joining the programme for the first time in 2020 are Ski Jumping Canada, Nordic Combined Ski Canada and Boxing Canada.

These sport organisations join long-time programme partners Freestyle Canada, Speed Skating Canada, Cycling Canada Cyclisme, Rowing Canada Aviron, Rugby Canada and Canoe Kayak Canada, all of whom are looking to identify new talent for development.

"Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Ski Canada are thrilled to be part of the RBC Training Ground programme, as this is an integral development component of identifying much-needed high-calibre athletes for our exciting sports," Todd Stretch, chairman of Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Ski Canada, said.

"Many opportunities are available for our athletes to advance to the national team level, with higher than average exposure to Olympic qualifications and participation."

Several athletes who were discovered at previous RBC Training Ground events and supported as RBC Future Olympians are now emerging as Tokyo 2020 medal hopefuls.

World record-setting track cyclist Kelsey Mitchell was a university football player when she was discovered at an RBC Training Ground event in 2017.

RBC Training Ground was developed in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Olympic Foundation and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Sports, with support from the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN).

As the longest-standing corporate partner of Team Canada, RBC has proudly championed the growth of the Olympic Movement since 1947.

"At RBC, we are proud to support Canadian Olympic athletes at every stage of their careers," Mary DePaoli, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at RBC, said.

"RBC Training Ground is bridging the gap between next-generation talent and Olympic medallists, and we will experience the results first-hand as we cheer on graduates of our programme at the 2020 Games.

"We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the COC, COPSIN and CBC Sports for the fifth year of RBC Training Ground to unlock the potential of the next generation of Olympians."

Eric Myles, COC chief sport officer, added: "Year five represents an important milestone for the RBC Training Ground programme. 

"This is the year that graduates of the programme make their Olympic dreams come true. 

"I encourage all participants this year to take their tests to heart, as the opportunity to represent Team Canada on the world's biggest sporting stage can be made a reality."