Running alongside the walls of buildings in downtown Victoria, Jonathan Vallee can feel the blood rushing through his veins.
For Vallee, it’s about getting from point A to point B, and overcoming the obstacles in his way, whether they be buildings or walls, as part of a sport called free running, a version of parkour, which includes acrobatic moves.
In one situation, he jumped from one building to the next.
“I just like the feeling of being free, there’s no restrictions,” Vallee said.
The buildings in the downtown core have become the backdrop for the 17-year-old Greater Victoria resident to hone his athletic abilities, jumping off and climbing one wall at a time.
Free running is a sport Vallee initially came across a few years ago.
Growing up in Quebec, Vallee often went for runs with his friends as a way of keeping up his fitness level. However, he quickly grew bored with the sport and searched ways to challenge himself, physically.
That’s when he stumbled across a YouTube video of free running and knew it was something he had to try. The video taught him the proper techniques to climb walls and run along the side of walls, three to four steps at a time (like something you would see in action movies), which he practiced in parks, on benches, and on monkey bars in playgrounds.
After moving to Victoria five years ago, he continued his love of free running in downtown Victoria, climbing a 10-foot high wall and climbing on top of a 20-foot-tall building and jumping to the neighbouring structure.
“I’ve only done it once (climbing on top of a 20-foot-tall building), but it’s pretty fun to do. The feeling of flying over it is pretty great,” he said. “It is scary, but once you land it you can say ‘I did this’. It’s a great feeling.”
It’s Vallee’s athletic abilities that have landed him an invitation to the RBC Training Ground on the Mainland this weekend. The event is an initiative between the Canadian Olympic Committee and RBC to bring new and undiscovered athletes into Canada’s Olympic talent pool.
More than 100 athletes from around the province will be tested on speed, power, strength and endurance during the regional final, where they will have the chance to earn funding to achieve their podium dreams.
Vallee qualified for finals after a trial at Belmont Secondary in January, where he lifted 259 kilograms during the isometric mid-thigh pull.
“Jonathan really stood out. He set a new strength isometric mid-thigh pull record, and based on all four testing stations and anthropometric measurements had the best overall performance for anyone under the age of 19,” said Kurt Innes, head tester at the RBC Training Ground.
Vallee, who listed free running and snowboarding as his sports of choice in his application, is nervous to compete against some of the top athletes from across the province, but is hopeful he’ll do well.
He’s already been contacted by Bobsleigh Canada to do one on one training during spring break.
“I’ve never done it, it will be a new experience. Just the feeling of sliding down an ice slide at 200 miles an hour sounds fun,” he said.
The RBC Training Ground’s B.C. regional final takes place Saturday, March 4 in Richmond.