Morning Star Staff
Riley McLean, a 16-year old swimmer from Vernon, has joined one of the most prestigious athletic clubs in Canada.
A total of 52 young Canadian athletes from 39 different summer and winter sports selected by Petro Canada to receive a Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence (FACE™) Program grant.
Past recipients include Olympic and Paralympic medallists Patrick Chan (silver, figure skating), Hayley Wickenheiser (gold, hockey), Kaitlyn Lawes (gold, curling), Marielle Thompson (gold, ski cross), Mac Marcoux (gold, Para alpine skiing), Rosie MacLennan (gold, trampoline) and Mark Tewksbury, (gold, Swimming).
Despite swimming competitively for only a few years, McLean set a Canadian Para Swimming record in the S4 50-metre butterfly and qualified for the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games Team.
The Seaton Secondary student was born with arthrogryposis – a congenital condition (that in Riley’s case) restricts the use of all joints with the exception of hips and spine.
Riley can frequently be seen around town on his Shriners-sponsored Segway.
“I got into it when I was in Grade 8 — my dad wanted me to because my family was nervous that if I had no way of doing exercise and if I gained weight my legs would not hold me,” he said.
Developed by Petro-Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), and facilitated by their National Sport partners, the FACE Program supports up-and-coming athletes when they need it most: when they are striving to represent Canada at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but don’t yet qualify for government funding.
Recipients are selected based on potential. Since 1988, Petro-Canada has supported more than 2,700 athletes on their way to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Every year, 52 promising athletes from across Canada are awarded a $10,000 Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACETM) grant, shared with their coaches.
To date, $9.5 million in direct financial support has been provided to athlete and coach pairings.
In addition to providing financial support, FACE athletes and coaches are invited to an annual summit to learn from Olympians and Paralympians, and receive advice on media training, public speaking, and personal-brand development. The FACE Summit will be held in early November.
“As a past FACE athlete, it’s amazing to see that other athletes will continue to receive Petro-Canada’s generous support now that they have renewed their partnership with the COC,” said Hayley Wickenheiser, six-time Olympian, five-time Olympic medallist.
“They help make Canadian athletes’ dreams come true and for that, we will always be grateful.”