Jordan Jacobs is used to running — and leaving her competitors in her wake — but unlike in track, this time those chasing her are trying to bring her down by any means necessary.
Welcome to the life of a dual-sport star, excelling in not only track, but in rugby as well.
“It was never on my radar,” she said last week, after returning home from practice with the Langley Mustangs track and field club.
“Every other sport I played, you were always penalized for contact,” she said with a laugh.
Jacobs, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Walnut Grove Secondary, danced when she was younger, as well as competing in ringette and basketball.
She had whittled her sports down to two in recent years, track and basketball, before exchanging her basketball for a rugby ball.
Jacobs admits she never would have given rugby much of a thought had she not attended the RBC Training Ground talent discovery event last January at the Langley Events Centre.
She was one of 90 or so young athletes between the ages of 14 and 25, who showed up at the free event.
The purpose of the program is to bring new and undiscovered athletes into Canada’s Olympic talent pool and the participants are subjected to a battery of tests evaluating their speed, power, strength and endurance.
Jacobs’ bib read No. 1 and the teenager was one of a dozen athletes from the regional competition who were extended an invitation to participate that spring at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
And with officials from the Canadian Olympic Committee and 14 national sports organizations, it is fair to say Jacobs left a lasting impression.
In 2017, more than 300 athletes out of a total of 2,100 who attended RBC Training Ground events across Canada, were invited for additional testing by a national sport governing body. And from that list of 3,000, 30 were selected to receive ongoing support funding from RBC in order to pursue their Olympic dreams.
Jacobs made that exclusive list.
Jacobs met seven elite benchmarks from three different sports — rugby, rowing and cycling — and Rugby Canada formally invited her to join the national team development program, with RBC partly funding her potential Olympic journey.
As a sprinter — she specializes in the 100m and 200m as well as relay events — Jacobs plays wing in rugby, to better utilize her speed.
The past year has been busy for Jacobs as she juggles training in both track and rugby, having to sacrifice basketball — she played for the Walnut Grove Gators up until this season.
She still runs with the Mustangs and with the Gators, as well as training with the Bayside Rugby Club out of White Rock and with the Rugby BC sevens program.
And that’s why Jacobs is recommending other athletes to give it a shot this Saturday as the RBC training program returns to the LEC.
“I had an open mind to it all. Worse case scenario, it doesn’t work out and you go back to where you were before this,” she explained.
As for her future, track is still the focus.
“She has a lot of natural talent,” said Dwayne Lotnick, her coach the past three years with the Mustangs.
It was at Lotnick’s suggestion that Jacobs and several other Mustangs teammates attended last year’s session.
As for Jacobs getting tapped for funding to help her pursue her athletic dreams, the coach was not surprised.
“(Jordan) is a really good sprinter and I think the RBC program really suits that type of athlete,” he said.
Program returns to LEC
The RBC Training Ground program returns to the Langley Events Centre on Saturday (Feb. 3) and it is one of 30 combines happening across Canada.
And on hand in Langley will be 2016 Olympic silver medallist Laura Brown.
As a young gymnast, Brown always wanted to compete at the Olympics but a back injury as teenager derailed that dream, so she switched sports and started cycling and two years ago, helped Canada win bronze in the team pursuit.
There is no charge to participate and interested athletes may pre-register at www.rbctrainingground.ca. Registration begins on Saturday at 8 a.m. and the testing will be conducted from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Top performers will be invited to the B.C. regional final in Richmond on April 7.