Cameron Bruce is a six-foot-three track and field athlete who has spent the last five years with the Varsity Blues. His drive and determination to improve as a person and as an athlete are what led him to win a silver medal in the heptathlon at the U SPORTS Championships this year. Bruce is also in his final year as a Rotman Commerce student in finance and economics, focusing on data science.
Bruce sat down with The Varsity after his silver medal win to look back on his journey to becoming a track star, the ups and downs of training as a solo athlete, and his future goals as his career with the Varsity Blues comes to a close.
Back to the roots
During his upbringing in Cobourg, Ontario, Bruce was introduced to sports at an early age. “I feel like I was a kid who played every sport… [but] the first sport I played was actually either baseball or hockey,” said Bruce. Bruce knew that he wanted to give track and field a try after watching his brother compete. Bruce has been in everything from cleats to ice skates and courts to arenas until he finally decided to commit to tracking.
His decision to commit to track wasn’t an easy one. As such, an elite member of his high school basketball team, being the MVP from 2015–2017, Bruce’s love for basketball was hard to give up. While basketball was his passion, external pressure from coaches ultimately led him to commit to track and field: “Part of the reason I gravitated toward track in the end was, indirectly, because all these different basketball coaches were putting a lot of pressure on me. [With] track, you could just go do your own thing and not have to worry about other parents, other coaches, other teammates.”
Life with the Blues
Bruce grew up with a drive for competition, and being an athlete fulfilled that craving to compete. After years of training and experimenting with different events, he has more of an appreciation for the personal growth aspect of being a track and field athlete.
Bruce thrived under the independent structure of the Varsity Blues’ track team and he consistently improved. After committing to the Varsity Blues in 2018, Bruce spent the three years of his career competing in hurdles before sprinting in his fourth year. He found that mainly focusing on hurdles was not challenging enough, so this year he opted to try multiple events. Bruce found that having multiple training sessions a day gave him something to look forward to and ultimately pushed him to improve.
His interest in expanding the range of events he trained for led him to compete in a heptathlon in this year’s U SPORTS Championship. Bruce maintains a humble and realistic attitude which encourages him to stay focused on himself, leading him to be successful in several events: “It’s been a learning process over the years, but it’s important to focus on your own growth and compare yourself to you. I did a lot of that this year, especially with trying new events… With the exception of hurdles, which is where I started and was my main event, I was new to these things and I couldn’t expect to be as good as the best guys at it.”
On day one of the Championship, Bruce competed in three events: the 60 metres, long jump, and high jump. The first two events went well, but high jump was a challenge because it requires more flexibility; something he hopes to improve. Flexibility aside, he placed 13th overall in the high jump event.
Day two of the heptathlon was just as busy for Bruce: it involved the 60 metre hurdles, open hurdles, the pole vault, and the 1000 metre run. Having trained for hurdles for the majority of his career with the Blues, it’s no secret Bruce has been one of the hurdles finalists in both the Ontario University Athletics and U SPORTS Championships.
This year, Bruce faced a number of challenges, none of which he allowed to hinder his mindset or performance. Despite a fall during the final of the 60 metre hurdles, he secured third place in the event. “I just kind of had to get back up, go back to pole vault, and then finish off with the 1000 metres, which was a bit of a drain. And it was basically a two horse race between me and the other guy. I was holding him off for like 800, 900 metres. But I was pretty gassed at that point. Falling took a lot out of me, so it was kind of unfortunate. But I mean, I’m really happy to come second in my first year.”
Bruce continued, “I ran the heat, and I was ranked third heading into the final. And then, yeah, if you clip a hurdle and you go down, they’re pretty heavy. People will hit it a lot. Like, it’s very common to hit hurdles, but if you hit one pretty hard, you’re probably going to go down. And three guys ended up falling in the race, so I was not the only one that fell,” said Bruce.
The road ahead
On top of being a student and an athlete, Bruce is studying for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam. His personal and career goals post-grad are to pursue a master’s degree in mathematical finance to work in finance.
In terms of sports goals, Bruce hopes to continue training as a track and field athlete with the Varsity Blues, and aspires to make a national team. Aside from his career as an athlete, Bruce enjoys playing piano and being social when he can.