Regina athlete represents on track and in the field
Competing at the Golden Bear Open Track and Field competition on January 17, Amou Madol of the University of Regina Cougars made her U Sports automatic qualifying time for the second time in her two years of U Sports eligibility. At the meet she jumped 1.71m, a personal best and better than her Canada West bronze medal performance in 2019. The jump was a big step in the right direction for the second year Cougar.
“It was actually very exciting because last year I auto qualified, but this year was more exciting I think because to be able to do it again shows that I’ve grown and become better and that’s also a personal best so it was a good feeling to jump higher this year.”
However, even more impressive than Madol’s jumping prowess is her multi-sport versatility. The biology major who aspires to go into pharmacy represents the Cougars in both track and field and soccer. Madol is a unicorn; it is incredibly rare for an athlete to reach the elite varsity level in one sport, let alone two. So how did Madol end up competing in two wildly different disciplines?
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 10, so I’ve always been doing soccer, and I kind of just did track for school and for fun. I’ve always been more serious about soccer, but then in high school I did track a bit more and then Wade [Huber, the Cougars Track and Field coach] approached me and talked to me about it. He opened my eyes to the possibility of doing both.”
Madol is a product of Regina’s own development system. She played soccer through the local ranks and competed for Archbishop M.C. O’Neil High School on the track. While many athletes are well-rounded, to an outside perspective, the running-dominant sport of soccer and the explosive jumping events in track seem incongruous. I asked Madol how she discovered her aptitude for high jump.
“I didn’t really do long distance in track, I kind of was a sprinter, so high jump kind of came with that and I just started jumping.”
Madol “just started jumping,” and she hasn’t stopped since, posting a top-ten finish in her rookie U Sports season. She is already looking for more.
“I think in my first year when I did go to Nationals, I was very nervous and intimidated by all the other athletes. I didn’t feel like I really belonged in that atmosphere even though I did auto-qualify.”
“This year I want to go in and be more confident and just control what I can and compete.”
Before she gets back to Nationals, Madol will attempt to defend her medal at the Canada West Championships in Saskatoon on Feb. 21 and 22. However, the medal is the last thing on her mind heading into the meet.
“When I approach competition, I just go in thinking that I want to jump my best, I don’t really set a goal where I want to medal, but that would be a bonus. I go in and just jump because I know I can and whatever happens from there I take it.”
Madol is one of the leaders on a Track team that is on the rise. In 2020 the team already has posted several auto-qualifying times and even a U Sports leading performance in the men’s 4×800m relay. As someone on the inside, even Madol has been impressed by her team’s performance.
“I think the track team is doing very well this season all the different groups, the jumpers, the distance runners, the sprinters, they are all elevating so that’s good to see.”
Madol’s two sports are about as different as it gets. In soccer, she plays centre-back, a defensive position that is about sitting back and controlling play of the game. In track, she is in one of the most high-pressure explosive events, one where you have just seconds to decide the fate of a season’s work. I had to ask, which one does she prefer?
“I don’t think I could really choose because I like both for different reasons. Soccer is more of a team atmosphere where in track I kind of focus on my own thing.”
Madol’s schedule truly epitomizes that of a multi-sport athlete, and she credits her coaches for helping her to manage the demands of these wildly different disciplines.
“Wade (Huber) and Bob (Maltman) do a really job of making sure I don’t overwork myself. In the soccer season I just focus more on soccer stuff, and then once the soccer season is over, I go to track and in the summer I try to do both.”
Madol also acknowledges that it isn’t easy to have success across two sports, and she is grateful for the opportunity she has been given.
“I really enjoy it. I try not to take any day for granted because I am just thankful, I was able to do both because not a lot of people do. I take it day-by-day, enjoy every day and just train hard.”