Good as Gold: In Conversation with Pierce LePage

SHARP & Maison Birks + Longines

On the first day of the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships this past summer, Canada’s Damian Warner was leading the pack after the first four events in what’s often referred to as the most difficult challenge in all of sport — ten track-and-field events over the course of two days. But then disaster struck for the Olympic champion and three-time World medallist. Less than halfway through the 400-metre dash, Warner suffered a hamstring injury and had to withdraw from the competition.

Warner’s early exit opened an opportunity — and it was another Canadian who grabbed it, in the process establishing himself as a perennial contender in the decathlon world, rather than a mere promising newcomer. After having flirted with the global decathlon podium for years, it was finally Pierce LePage’s time to shine. Thanks to three personal bests (in the 400 metres, 110 metre hurdles, and discus throw), LePage ended up scoring a career high of 8,701 points in total, claiming the silver medal.

To call this performance a years-in-the-making breakthrough would be an understatement, says LePage.

In Conversation with Pierce LePage

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“A lot of my career has been, ‘Oh look, after the first day, Pierce is on top, or in second place,’ and then by the end of the last event on day two I’ve dropped to fourth or fifth,” laughs the six-foot-eight Whitby, Ontario native over a Zoom call while in Toronto. “To get over that hurdle and finally finish on the podium felt like the culmination of a lot of hard work.”

The path to the podium wasn’t an easy one. Over the past few years, LePage has suffered through several injuries, including a torn patella, with which he competed in the Olympics last summer. Even with a compromised knee, he finished fifth. The experience taught the 26-year-old exactly what it would take to advance his young career to the next level.

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“I realized how resilient I could be,” explains LePage. “I ended just shy of a medal, but I’m super proud of what I accomplished in Tokyo.”

LePage began participating in track and field at the age of 12. As a tall, lanky kid whose body hadn’t yet caught up with its limbs, the triple jump was a natural fit, and the first event that piqued LePage’s interest. He was a natural at the event, breaking a 27-year-old provincial record shortly after he began competing for Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby.

It was LePage’s coach, Gregory Portnoy, with whom he began working at the age of 16, who suggested LePage do an octathlon. Then he tried his hand at the decathlon and fell in love with the event.

In 2016, LePage won the RBC Training Ground competition, a program designed to help discover young athletes with Olympic potential and provide them with the resources needed to achieve their athletic dreams. As the winner of the competition, LePage attended the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a spectator; there he got a firsthand look at the calibre of competition he would one day go up against.

LePage would arrive in Rio a starstruck fan, and he would leave an athlete with a renewed focus and dedication to one day competing at the Olympics, which he would go on to do five years later.

As LePage pushes himself to throw a few metres farther, to jump a few inches higher, and to shave a few seconds off his track events, his off-field style has seen a similar progression. Fascinated by the intersection of sports and fashion, LePage describes his personal style as “sporty” with a growing appreciation for accessories — especially watches.

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“I have such wild proportions that it took a while to figure out what works for me when it comes to fashion,” he explains. “I can’t just walk into a store and buy clothes, because very little actually fits me. Accessories give me a way to express myself in a way that clothes can’t.”

LePage’s interest in watches stretches back to his childhood, when he loved collecting the toy timepieces that were included in cereal boxes. Eventually, he would acquire a bright orange G-Shock watch that he wore throughout his teens. Now, as an owner of a Longines Legend Diver Watch, LePage’s growing collection of timepieces embodies the same drive for precision and accuracy that he pursues as a decathlete.

“Track events come down not only to seconds, but hundredths and thousandths of seconds,” he says. “And in the decathlon, every second matters, and every point is vital. At this level, so little separates first from fourth — something I know all too well. Being able to know with precision what times you’re achieving in practice gives you confidence that all the hard work you’ve put in will pay off when it’s time to compete against the best in the world.”