Lawrence relishing multi-event experience with two medals at Canadian National Championships

LANGLEY, BC –  Standing on the podium once as a Canadian Championships medalist is one thing, but doing it twice isn’t something many think about.  For Madisson Lawrence, it wasn’t what she expected, but it’s what happened. 

“When I was growing up, my coach wanted me to do the multi-events and compete in everything, and I didn’t want to do it,” Lawrence, a fourth-year student at the University of Manitoba, told 49 Sports. “In my second year of university, I kind of came around to doing it.”

Lawrence competed in the three different events at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, BC,  more than any other athlete, and came away with medals in the high jump and heptathlon. In the heptathlon, she won two stages. 

Madisson Lawrence in U SPORTS long jump (University of Manitoba)

In the long jump, the 22-year-old finished sixth, and while she finished second in the heptathlon, it was an unexpected bronze in the women’s senior high jump which stood out. 

Mere minutes after completing the 800-metre run as a part of the heptathlon, Lawrence entered the high jump competitions without any expectations. “I thought I had no chance of getting over the bar,” she said.

With heavy legs, or so she thought, she jumped to the bronze medal, getting through four rounds and only missing out on the 1.80m jump, which ended in a jump-off between Acadia’s Barbara Bitchoka and the eventual champion Marguerite Lorenzo of Cornell. 

“I think I ended up approaching the competition really relaxed, and that ended up working really well; I ended up hitting a [personal best] despite having other events earlier in the day — I’d like to take that mindset into other competitions now that I know that it works.”

Bitchoka and Lorenzo wanted to share the gold medal rather than competing in the jump-off, but event organizers said it would not be an option. 

Lawrence came into the high jump as more of an underdog than a contender, but moments before the race, favourite Toronto Varsity Blue Emily Branderhorst had to pull out due to an injured foot. With the 2022 U SPORTS event champion out of the competition, there was an open door for several athletes, including Lawrence. 

Multi-event by chance

While winning several medals at the National Championships is an achievement for anyone, it wasn’t something that Lawrence had thought about when she joined the Bisons program. 

She didn’t begin taking track and field too seriously until her second year with the Manitoba program, but she was hooked when she switched to multi-events. “Changing events made it a lot more fun, and I saw a lot of progress, so I continued down that path.”

The Winnipegger didn’t use her U SPORTS eligibility in 2021-22, so there was no recent corresponding competition to stack her up against Branderhorst on the university circuit. Still, even though Lawrence only began her outdoor season in April, it has been a competitive year, especially as she’s taken on several events.

“I needed some improvements with my speed, high jump was going very well, but I needed an improvement in my speed to take that next step,” Lawrence said. “I now take a couple of off days after competitions to get recovery in; if I need extra time off, it’s no big deal and better than risking an injury.”

Stepping off the podium for the second and final time at the Canadian Championships, Lawrence won’t be heading to the World Championships in Eugene, Ore. like many of the top athletes instead, she turns her focus to the Niagara 2022 Canada Games, where she enters as a gold medal favourite for Team Manitoba. 

Initially, Lawrence didn’t want to try the multi-events. Less than three years later, she’s a Canadian Championship medalist. “I didn’t want to do it, but I was open to trying it, and it stuck.”

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