Ask any aspiring athlete what their goals are, and you can rest assured that the Olympics will be mentioned. No matter what level of play, the Olympics are the stuff that dreams are made of. But what if competing in the Olympics for your country was a reality, only for a sport you had never tried before?
This is exactly the case for Surrey’s Kieanna Stephens, who was one of the recipients of RBC’s Training Ground program. The program scouts athletes who have Olympic potential, identify which sport they have potential in, and gives the recipients a real Olympic experience by taking them to the games! Kieanna is a skilled athlete, mastering sports like hockey, soccer and softball, but she was identified as a potential Olympian for the sport of rowing. We chatted with Kieanna about her experience at the Rio Olympics, and how Surrey has supported her as an athlete.
Discover Surrey: How long have you been a part of the Surrey community?
Kieanna Stephens: I moved to Surrey from Lexington Park, Maryland when I was two years old.
DS: How has Surrey inspired you, or enabled you as an athlete?
KS: Surrey had inspired me as an athlete because of the endless amount of opportunities I had growing up. Because Surrey is such a large community, it allows more variety in sport options along with more sports teams.
DS: Tell us something about you that not many people know.
KS: Something that not many people know about me is that I love keeping things (especially my room) clean and organized. Basically, I can’t go to sleep until my room is clean, or at least mostly clean.
DS: You were invited to consider picking up rowing in the RBC Training Ground program, had you ever considered it as a sport you’d like to compete in before?
KS: I have never considered rowing before the RBC Training Ground. Growing up I’ve played all the common sports that kids usually play like soccer, softball, and hockey. Rowing isn’t too popular for kids, and by the time you’re a teenager, you feel like it’s too late to join a new sport. Rowing was totally off my radar before the training ground, but now that I’ve had a chance to try it, I really enjoy it, especially competing.
DS: You were a member of the Surrey Falcons hockey team, what lessons have you learned from playing a team sport?
KS: Currently I am a member of the Fraser Valley Rush (Major Midget AAA), but I had played minor hockey with the Surrey Falcons leading up to the transition. Although I haven’t been playing hockey for as long as most of the girls had, I had still learned a lot. When playing on a sports team of any type, it’s almost natural to develop teamwork skills that you can carry on later in life. Throughout many years of playing sports, I have always loved playing with teammates and developing new experiences and memories.
DS: Tell us a little bit about your experience at the Rio Olympics.
KS: My experience at the Rio Olympic Games was unbelievable. Words cannot describe how amazing and exciting it was to witness the games first hand. The atmosphere surrounding the games and each event was absolutely breathtaking. As an athlete, being able to watch the Olympics in real life is truly motivating and one of the best experiences ever. Not only were the Olympics amazing, the city itself was was an experience all on its own. This was my first time in South America and it was beautiful. I loved exploring, seeing all parts of Rio, meeting the locals, and hearing their excitement for their country and the games. The only thing that can top being at the Olympic Games is one day being there and competing for my country.