An Okotoks athlete has joined with Save-On-Foods and More Rewards for a program aiming to provide 200,000 local athletes with $10 million in support, called "Fueling Sport."

Zak Madell, a wheelchair rugby player who's flown the flag for Canada on numerous occasions spanning back to 2012, is one of the several "leaders in sport" asked to represent the program.

The past year has been a slower time for Madell, with countless competitions and other sporting events having been cancelled, often last minute.

"A lot of waiting a lot of day-to-day waiting to hear what's happening. A lot of the events we thought we were going to, we find out a matter of weeks beforehand that cases are so=piking and they're trying to look after us or countries are shutting down borders, or whatever happens to be," says Madell.

He has been able to attend some training camps in Ottawa in March and April, and he says he was glad to return to the court.

"So we've been back together twice now in 2021 here to actually be on court which was a strange feeling. It'd been a full year without actually being on a rugby court or playing proper rugby. That was a bit of an unusual experience."

Fuelling Sport will be providing local athletes with free and discounted groceries for a year, as well as financial support and fundraising opportunities.

It'll be available to athletes at all levels from B.C. to Manitoba.

Madell says since nutrition plays a huge role in athletics, he was keen to get involved when he was approached to join the program.

"Like 90 percent of being an athlete is what happens in the kitchen. It's so true, I mean, I could train as hard as possible all day every day but if I'm eating garbage, at the end of the day I'm not going to be seeing the same results I'd like to."

He says that's especially true for athletes competing at higher levels.

"For the elite athletes, it's just one less thing we have to worry about, something we're not stressing over. We don't have to be selective with what we're being based on price, we can buy the most nutritious food for ourselves and make sure we're fuelling our bodies properly regardless of price. It's a huge load off our shoulders."

Applications for the program are being accepted until May 28th, and Madell encourages anyone interested to check it out.

"It's for any local athletes on a journey towards their dream, whether it be provincial team athletes, club teams varsity athletes, junior national team, team Canada, anybody out there looking for a little bit of assistance, feel free to apply and check it out."


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