Jade Bouchard-Nguyen is a Université de Montreal student who, along with her team, is having a breakout U Sports track year. The team has only belonged to the league for five years and Bouchard-Nguyen is an original member.
Currently, UdeM athletes sit in the top three position of six different U Sports events and those range from jumps, to sprints, to long distance. For a team that’s competing against programs that have been around 10 times longer, that’s pretty impressive. Overall, the women are ranked 11th nationally and the men 10th.
Bouchard-Nguyen has played a big role in helping her team to their national rank. The runner currently sits first in the 600m and second in the 1,000m (by only 0.14s). She’s certainly poised to be a major contender come the national championship this March.
The 23 year old is in her Master’s of Nutrition and Dietetics and her last year of eligibility. She’s already run personal bests in both the 600m and 1,000m and it’s only January. The runner says she believes she’s had the fitness to run these times for a while, but this year she’s got more drive. “It’s my last year of varsity eligibility and I’ve been able to perform when I need to. It wasn’t that I was in bad shape other years, but now I’m racing better. I think this is because I love the sport more than I ever have before. I know my varsity career is ending so I want to give everything I can.”
The runner isn’t sure if she’ll continue to run beyond this year. She explains that she’ll compete through the Canadian Olympic Trials in late June but beyond that, she’s uncertain. “I’ll always be a runner but I’m not sure at what level. I’ll decide when the time comes. Next year I’ll be graduated and navigating professional life.”
For this winter, she’s got her eye on the U Sports podium. She explains, “In the past I’ve made it to U Sports but finished 10th or 12th, this year I want to be at the top. For this summer, I just want to improve my personal bests in the 800m and 1,500m.” As for her team at UdeM, the runner says it’s an exciting time to be a member. “It’s a really new team, we didn’t even exist six years ago but things are going really well. We’ve added a new sprints and jumps coach which has been great, it’s more of a complete team now.”
The entire league has taken notice of this change. University of Toronto coach Bob Westman wrote in this week’s Watchlist Coaches Corner that U Sports is seeing a new UdeM. Westman explains, “In past years, you would see some exceptional individual competitors but UdeM never had a stake in the team races. But that’s all changed. They have a full coaching staff in place, seemingly strong recruiting starting and the results are following. They sit in the second place in the men’s and fourth in the women’s RSEQ rankings, and I’m going to predict they will continue to get better. Watch out for this team.”