Olympic and Paralympic medalists, as well as athletes still paving their future achievements, are some of the 60 sport elites who will receive funding as ambassadors for the 2021 Save-On-Foods Fueling Sport program.
Hundreds of athletes from Western Canada applied, with 60 selected to take part in the grocery chain’s community sports nutrition initiative. Launched this past spring, the program includes $10 million over five years to support athletes reaching their goals, as well as local sponsorships for sports clubs.
The athletes represent an array of sports, such as hockey, soccer, curling and speed skating, while also showcasing more recent and regional passions such as CrossFit, rock climbing, water skiing, beach volleyball and BMX.
The roster includes Olympic and Pan-Am medalists, Canadian record-holders and Paralympians, as well as local club, university and aspiring provincial team members.
Pamphinette Buisa, Victoria resident and Canadian women’s rugby sevens team member, said she’s struggled to develop cooking skills in the past.
“Now that I’m provided the opportunity to cook, to learn and really invest in my nutritional habits, it’ll definitely accelerate and support my athletic capacity,” Buisa told Black Press Media, adding it’ll also help her take part in community initiatives.
Buisa will make her Olympic debut when the Canadian women’s sevens squad plays Brazil on July 28.
Jack Boden, a member of the University of Victoria’s cross-country and track team, said it’s an honour to be selected as one of the program’s ambassadors.
“It means a lot for athletes at all levels,” he said. “Nutrition and fueling is something every athlete needs.”
Nutrition is one of the main areas where he’s been trying to improve, so he hopes the $30 a week for groceries he’ll receive through the program will help him do just that.
“Groceries are pretty expensive so it’s definitely a big help for me,” Boden said.
The soon-to-be third-year student said the program will help power his training as he prepares for the Canada West cross-country meet in October.
Nathan Hirayama, one of Canada’s two Tokyo flag-bearers, is part of the program’s 60-athlete roster. The UVic grad is co-captain of Canada’s men’s rugby sevens team and has helped the squad capture two gold medals and a silver at the last three Pan American Games.
Canada’s men’s sevens team is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo and starts play Sunday.
“We look forward to supporting (athletes) pursue their goals from their local hometowns to the international stage,” said More Rewards president Dan Howe. “By investing locally, we are realizing the power of sport in building healthy and vibrant communities.”
A full list of the athletes participating can be found at fuellingsport.ca.
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