Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Olympic Foundation Launches #NoworNever Campaign for Young Athletes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Olympic Foundation Launches #NoworNever Campaign for Young Athletes

Article excerpt

COF turning attention to athletes on rise

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TORONTO - Soren Meeuwisse is on the cusp of being one of the country's next great mountain bikers. But she's nowhere near being one of Canada's best-funded athletes.

The 17-year-old from Orillia, Ont., is caught in the middle. She needs a top result to become eligible for national funding, but she could use some funding to help her reach that top result.

"You get to the point where it starts to get really expensive but the funding is not there yet, so that's where it really becomes tough," said her dad Glenn. "And Soren is really at that crux where she's just on the brink of being able to access some national funding but not quite there."

Meeuwisse, Canada's top-ranked junior, is featured in the Canadian Olympic Foundation's (COF) #NowOrNever Next Generation marketing campaign launched Friday, which puts faces of the next generation of sports stars front and centre.

If Own the Podium funds Canada's very best athletes, Leanne Nicolle, the COF's executive director, likes to think of this initiative as "own the future."

"We spend our money at the top, we're winning, it's going well, so we need to continue investing there," Nicolle said. "But there is no money available to young athletes further down in the system. The financial burden rests on the family.

"We understand that young people drop out of sport for a variety of reasons," she added. "We just don't want finance to be one of them. Canada is not going to have the best athletes at the top because they've just dropped out because of finance."

The COF has raised $5 million so far this year for programs -- including the hiring of coaches, securing facilities, etc. -- aimed toward young athletes.

Meeuwisse's dad Glenn estimates, between coaching costs, racing fees, and travel to camps in the U.S. and Europe, the family has spent $20,000 this year on Soren's sports endeavours.

"But (Lea Babcock, Soren's mom) and I look at each other and say 'What else would we be doing that's such a positive experience? …

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