On a whim, Courtenay Farrington registered for the 2017 RBC Training Ground series knowing that, at age 25, this would be her last chance to take part. Her intent was simple – seeking only a good experience – but perhaps this could also be the catalyst she would need to start a new game.
Farrington, an athlete who competed in volleyball in high school and track and field in university, took a chance on bobsleigh too, signing up for a provincial identification camp in the fall of 2014. She had always done well in speed and power events, so bobsleigh was a good fit at first and she excelled, racing for the provincial team and then the national development team.
But bobsleigh didn’t pan out for Farrington as she hoped and in the spring this year she needed a change. RBC Training Ground popped up at just the right time.
While she didn’t win the competition, her strong testing results on the bike caught the attention of Cycling Canada and she was quickly identified as a candidate for the Development Program.
Additional testing, an interview and a session on the velodrome sealed the deal and Farrington is now in full training at the Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) Calgary as a track cyclist. “I inadvertently found my way into cycling,” maintains Farrington, but you have to wonder how much of it was by chance or by design?
“Sport has been a part of my life forever,” she says. “I love competing, I love the point in races where you elevate yourself above anything you were ever able to do in training.” Competition aside, Farrington says she mostly enjoys the experience of getting better and the journey sport takes her on. Maybe it was chance and design.
Graeme Challis, Exercise Physiologist at CSI Calgary, has been working with Farrington since 2014, first in bobsleigh and now in track cycling. He says she’s a unique athlete that is incredibly diligent.
“What makes Courtenay special is her maturity and approach to the mental aspect of sport,” says Challis. “She’s unlike any other athlete I’ve ever worked with. The focus and drive she has in pursuit of her goals is remarkable.”
The CSI Calgary has a good track record of facilitating the successful transfer to cycling for other athletes, including former speed skater Kirsti Lay, who went on to win a bronze medal in the team pursuit at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. “If the raw talent is there, the switch to cycling can be a good one to make for the right athletes,” explains Challis.
He thinks track cycling is Farrington’s best shot. “She has the physical capabilities to be a sprint cyclist,” he says. “It’s the technical and tactical aspects of the sport that will determine her success. She has the right engine and raw power, but the question is, can she play the game?”
With a civil and biomedical engineering degree from the University of Calgary, physical talent and the mental fortitude and diligence required for sport, it looks like Farrington could have all the right traits to make the cut.
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto