Photo: Vincent Ethier
Photo: Vincent Ethier

A little donation goes a long way to helping Next Gen Team Canada athletes

Most people find mastering one event at the Olympic level challenging. Can you imagine excelling at 10?

Meet Next Generation decathlete Pierce LePage.

He started his athletics journey as an elementary school triple jumper. This year, he won decathlon silver for his first major international medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. Not too shabby.

Grenadian athlete Lindon Victor, center, Australia’s Cedric Dubler, right, and Canada’s Pierce Lepage celebrate with their national flags at the end of the men’s decathlon at Carrara Stadium during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

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The humble athlete never intended on becoming a decathlete, but his personal coach saw his future potential. Little by little, he went from focusing on one event to eight and then 10. He quickly changed from being a normal teenager to someone whose life revolved around training six days a week. On top of that, there are trips around the world for competition and treatment for the countless injuries he has endured and competed through. His perseverance and positive attitude keep him soaring higher.

LePage has made a steady climb through the Canadian ranks. He broke the junior national decathlon record in 2015. He broke through the 8000-point barrier for the first time in 2016. He won the senior national title in 2017.

Team Canada’s Pierce Lepage competes in the men’s decathlon javelin throw at Carrara Stadium during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

But also making a steady climb in LePage’s life is the cost of sport. One international competition takes about $6000 out of his pockets – and that’s just to get him and his equipment there. To ship one of his vaulting poles one way can cost more than $1000. Add in the cost of his coach, training, meals, accommodation, and any specialized sport medicine he may need for various injuries he may endure. At 22 years old, that’s a lofty amount of debt to carry on one’s shoulders while representing your country on the world stage.

As LePage continues to succeed, those financial burdens become greater. His next goal is to compete at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Qatar and then the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020. All the while, he is studying criminal law at York University in what little free time he has.

Next Generation decathlete Pierce LePage is exemplary of the athletes who will benefit from funding donated through 5to8. Photo: Vincent Ethier

RELATED: 5to8: Team Canada fans can support the next generation of Olympians 

With the help of Canadians donating to the newly launched 5to8 campaign, LePage and other athletes like him will be able to focus on their sport and not stress so much about the associated finances. Their families won’t have to worry about what the next level of sport will cost. They can just look forward to the possibility of their athletes standing on an Olympic podium while representing Team Canada.

5to8 was created to inspire people across the country to help young Olympic hopefuls who are devoting their lives to representing Canada on the world stage while racking up some extraordinary bills and often ending their careers in debt. Even worse, many athletes have to make the difficult choice to quit their sport because they no longer have the funds to live and continue on their quest for gold.

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By giving to 5to8, fans will give more Next Generation Canadian athletes the chance to continue pursuing and accomplish their Olympic dreams.