Saskatoon athlete earns tryout for Olympic cycling team even though she's never competed in the sport

Sophie Gelineau has competed in track & field for the better part of decade, and her athleticism is now giving her a shot at joining Canada’s Olympic team.

Only the opportunity is in cycling, which she’s never done competitively.

"My sister's both being competitive cyclists, I've just biked a lot with my family, but actually never in competition and never raced or anything like that," she said.

Her sister Elana signed her up for the RBC Training Ground Olympic talent search, where because of the pandemic, participants perform speed, power, and endurance tests and submit the results online.

Those results caught the eye of Jenny Trew, NextGen Track Endurance Coach & Lead NextGen Coach at Cycling Canada.

"Sophie showed in the virtual testing that she has a great deal of pure strength that may be able to transfer to the bike," Trew said in a news release. "We look forward to seeing how she takes to it!"

"I'm good athlete, but not as good as Sophie," said Elana. "This year I was like, ‘Okay I’m signing you up to do RBC training ground.'"

"She roped some of her friends into it to help her with the beep test and stuff like that, and yeah she did awesome."

Gelineau began her track and field career at Marion Graham Collegiate, before joining the team at the University of Alberta.

"I wanted to go away to school and just experience living away from home," she said.

The 22-year-old is about to finish a successful five year varsity career at the U of A where she specialized in the pentathlon, even winning a bronze medal at the 2020 U Sports national championships in the 4x800 metre event.

"My varsity career is coming to an end, it was kind of a scary thought a little bit because I think I've always identified as being an athlete and competing and training," said Gelineau. "My sisters kind of were saying this is the perfect transition."

"Sophie also has a strong history in high level sports that require a lot of discipline and self-motivation," said Trew.

The top 100 athletes, based on initial and subsequent test results, will be invited to the RBC Training Ground national final and potentially receive funding support as an RBC Future Olympian.

"She's quite strong, quite powerful," Elana said of her sister.

"She's got a really good base which I don't think a lot of athletes have— that wide range of skill set. I think she could do really, really well. I’m not going to say she'll win the whole thing necessarily, but maybe she definitely has a shot at."

The next step for Gelineau is training on the bike with her sisters, and finding a time to hop on a bike on a track with Cycling Canada.

"I've had such a great experience being a varsity athlete, and such great coaches and teammates and everything, that it's made me want to pursue sport well into my 20s," she said.

"I feel like I'm not done with being an athlete yet, and I think that’s because of what a great experience I've had."