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The cultural reference “grasping for the brass ring,” that athletes and journos often cite is about reaching for the top of their sport. The phrase has become emblematic to perhaps grasping for the ultimate symbol of the five rings of the modern Olympic Games. 

To get there, athletes exist in a world of sacrifice, determination, and commitment in pursuit of their own limits.

It’s often costly.

For Olympians, unless the athlete is a member of an NHL or NBA dream team, the financial commitment is very real. The investment can be a deterrent. 

Women’s sports are gradually catching up to men’s sports, however, there remains a deep chasm between the top amateur levels and professionals in terms of financial benefits. 

Can Fund #150Women

In Canada, CAN Fund #150Women is about women helping women. The fund provides a leg up to assist with the vast financial investment and sacrifice required to spend decades dedicated to the lifestyle, training, and competition of a world-class athlete.

The fund assists women across many sports including athletics. Some of the running or field event athletes that the fund lists off are Khamica Bingham, Natasha Wodak, Andrea Seccafien, Kyra Constantine, Lauren Gale, Leya Buchanan, Lindsey Butterworth, Madeline Price, Natalia Hawthorn, Noelle Montcalm, and Crystal Emmanuel.

Malindi Elmore, the national record holder in the marathon with her 2:24:50 performance from Houston 2020 went onto the Tokyo Olympic Games. Elmore had one of the best Canadian marathon performances in Olympic history finishing in ninth place and just 3:39 from gold and 3:23 behind world record holder Brigid Kosgei.

“CAN Fund #150Women is an amazing initiative to support female athletes across Canada achieve their athletic goals. I was so grateful to receive support twice in my career which alleviated some of the financial stress around preparing to compete,” shared the Kelowna, BC mother of two. “It is so expensive to support an athletic career and most Canadian athletes live at or below the poverty line. Support from the Can Fund provides enormous relief for so many of us striving to be our best on the world stage and takes some of the stress off the cost of competing.”

Wodak finished just four places behind Elmore in that race.

Seccafien holds two national records 31:13.94 in the 10,000m set in 2020 and 69:38 in the half-marathon from 2020. She trains in Australia.

Bingham is a 100m national champion. She competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and has run for Canada in the Pan American Games. Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

Emmanuel is a 14-time national champion in the 100m and 200m distances from 2011 to 2021.

CAN Fund #150Women just hit a major milestone in providing support to their 500th athlete.

Susanne Wereley (nee Grainger), Tokyo Olympic gold medallist in rowing and director of operations for  CAN Fund #150Women, shared that their 500th recipient is Olympic snowboarder, Megan Farrell. 

The Richmond Hill, ON, native began snowboarding at age four. She started competing at age six and at age seven she won her first national title. Farrell will be making her Olympic debut at the 2022 Games competing in the Parallel Giant Slalom event. 

Elmore at 2020 Houston Marathon. Photo credit Houston Marathon

It’s a big year for athletics with the potential to return fully to racing, there is the XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, and the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, OR. Leading up to these events are the National Track Tour, many one-off meets and marathons as well as the Diamond League, which take place mostly throughout Europe and Asia. 

“For me, receiving the Can Fund #150Women is also empowering – it really makes a difference when you can build a team around you knowing that they support and believe in you.  CAN Fund #150Women is “women supporting women” by encouraging donations of $150 from women across Canada to help support the next generation,” shared Elmore. 

Elmore will be competing with Wodak and perhaps one of the all-time fastest fields at the Boston Marathon in April on President’s Day Monday, April 18 – perhaps reaching for the brass ring that is also emblematic of the iconic marathon.