HALTON – Track cyclist and high school student Cole Dempster has Olympic potential.
He was selected for the national final of RBC Training Ground, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s annual Canada-wide talent search.
Of 2,200 athletes who attended qualifier events to compete for a spot on Team Canada, Dempster is one of the 100 chosen to participate in the national final.
All athletes invited to the final have been deemed to have great Olympic potential.
From there, the top 30 athletes will be chosen for a place on Team Canada, as well as funding and an accelerated path to the Olympics.
Dempster, 17, was also selected for the RBC Training Ground National Final last year, and earlier this year he won bronze in the Junior World Track Championships in Columbia.
Dempster said the final last year gave him a big motivational boost.
Athletes are tested in four areas: strength, endurance, power and speed, Dempster told the Advertiser during an interview in his family’s bright county home southeast of Rockwood.
The family is no stranger to athletic success, as Cole’s sister Madison also made it to the RBC Training Ground final for track cycling.
Dempster said he “definitely couldn’t believe” he was selected.
He grew up competing in track and field and also played basketball, volleyball and other sports, and he has cycled competitively since he was about 10.
His passion for track sprinting blossomed a couple years ago.
What Dempster loves most about track cycling is his team – “being with them is a huge honour,” he said.
His teammates include Kelsey Mitchell, the Olympic gold medal winner who beat a world-record within less than two years of her first velodrome ride.
Dempster said everyone on the team encourages and cheers for one another and the more experienced athletes like Mitchell offer helpful advice.
He talked about the thrill of the speed of cycling, and how it feels like flying.
“The G-force pushing you on is amazing,” he said.
Dempster is aiming to compete in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, and to place within the top 10 athletes.
And next year, he wants to win the Junior World Track Championships.
He’s aiming to break a world record, too, for the 200-metre sprint. And he’s on track to do so, Dempster said, calling the world record “definitely in reach.”
Dempster said a few years ago he would have called these ambitions dreams, but now they are realistic goals.
He takes his training seriously, cycling four times a week for about three hours at a time, and working out at the gym three times a week for two-hour sessions.
And that’s while maintaining academic responsibilities as a Grade 12 student at Acton District High School.
He said supportive teachers are a big help with this.
Dempster has been training with Canada’s National Team since last year, after qualifying for the worlds. He’s is the youngest cyclist ever on Canada’s National Team.
He cycles on a velodrome track in Milton – one of only two Union Cycliste International approved tracks in Canada.
His bike is a Argon 18 Electron Pro – the model used at the Rio Olympics.
“Track cycling is based so much on technology and expensive equipment,” which is sad, he said, as there are talented athletes with serious potential who are held back by the inaccessibility of purchasing a high-end racing bike.
Cycling Canada coach Tanya Dubnicoff said “Cole has made a tremendous transformation in one year.”
She started working with Dempster after he was identified at an RBC Training Ground event in 2022.
“With his inclusion into the National Team program in May, he has benefitted from top coaching and on-track training,” she states in a press release.
The RBC Training Ground National Final will be held in Toronto on Dec. 2, and results will be announced early next year.