How crowdfunding sent the Canadian Olympic team to Rio

In the heat of the Olympics, as the world’s best athletes wow the world with their talent, it can be easy to forget the amount of training required to reach that standard – and money. The world’s best coaches, facilities and training programmes don’t come for free, and with government funding and part-time work not always enough, some athletes have turned to crowdfunding to realise their dreams.

Crowdfunding has spread to almost every sector over the past couple of years, helping businesses and individuals alike to grow. Canadian athletes in particular have pioneered crowdfunding in the industry, finding it difficult to train, compete and live on the $18,000 per year provided to athletes by the Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program.

Two of the biggest sports crowdfunding sites have been launched by Canadian Olympic athletes, and MakeAChamp. was founded by former Olympic kayaker Julia Rivard and former gymnast Leak Skerry in 2012, just after the last Olympic games. Crowdfunding was a relatively new phenomenon, which could have a been a risk – but it’s paid off. Since then, the site has raised $680,440 for 105 athletes.

Julia Rivard and Leah Skerry, co-founders of
Julia Rivard and Leah Skerry, co-founders of

MakeAChamp is a similar site, offering a messaging service allowing the athletes to keep their supporters up-to-date with their progress. This year, 24 Canadian athletes ran campaigns on MakeAChamp, with ten launching campaigns with, to cover everything from training, to travel and equipment costs.

Athletes’ campaigns have been hugely successful in the run-up to the Olympics, especially when combined with the power of social media. British diving champion Tom Daley tweeted a link to the page of fellow diver Maxim Bouchard, causing his donations to soar and reach his $12,000 goal.

Miranda Wadham on 18/08/2016

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