Pierce LePage finds success through path less travelled; works towards consistency in the decathlon
He’s never participated at OFSAA for track and field, let alone heard of OFSAA when he was in high school. He didn’t know about the track and field clubs growing up. He’s never won a college or university championship. But despite that, 22-year-old Pierce Lepage has shown that he’s a force to be reckoned with at the world stage.
After winning the silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Lepage’s success has come from a different path than many other track and field athletes. While the majority of Team Canada athletes are currently or were previously affiliated with a club or school program, LePage has been training with Gregory Portnoy exclusively, unattached to any programs or clubs.
Whether the athletes train through a track and field club growing or joining a university or college program in school before joining the professional athletics circuit, LePage has stuck with his coach exclusively throughout his young track and field career. The relationship between athlete and coach wasn’t instantly there, but after time, it developed and it showed with LePage’s skills on the track.
“In high school I wanted to train with my coach, but he said I was too young, so I was like “alright, whatever, I’m just going to play video games until he wants to train with me,” which was all I did, just sat there and played League of Legends,” LePage recalls.
“Our relationship kind of evolved, kind of like, ‘ok he’s my coach’ but he’s basically like my dad. He drops off groceries at my house and does a lot of things, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had so it’s great.”
Even after finishing high school, when university athletic programs were lining up for him to join their track and field programs, LePage stuck with Portnoy and hasn’t looked back.
“He has a great track record with athletes, we get along together, we really click,” LePage says, currently a law and society student at York University. “Nothings gone wrong so there’s nothing that needs to change and I really respect him.”
Since then, LePage has quickly rose up the rankings, capped off this year with the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. He was also mere points away from qualifying for the Rio Olympics, but misses in the Pole Vault derailed his quest for Rio as an athlete. Luckily, he was still able to attend the Games as a RBC Training Ground winner. Since then, LePage says that experience has fuelled him to be more consistent mentally and ultimately, in his results.
“In my decathlons previously, one event goes super well, one event goes poorly and screws everything up, but then in Australia this year, nothing went super great but nothing went super bad so it was a consistent score,” LePage says. “Usually if you’re doing that in the decathlon, you end up with a good score. Being consistent in all ten events, and if something goes wrong you don’t beat yourself up over it, you just keep going onto the next event.”
Taking a break after the Commonwealth Games to recover from an elbow injury, LePage is back in competition this week at the Canadian National Championships in Ottawa, Ont., competing in the men’s 200m on Thursday, followed by the long jump on Friday. Following the national championships, LePage hopes to find a way onto the NACAC Championships Track and Field in the 6ix as well.
“It’s good that it’s in Toronto this year, sadly there’s no decathlon so maybe I’ll be a sprinter for a little bit,” LePage laughs. “I’ve never competed on a big stage in Toronto, and I know it will be a special moment to be able to do it here.”