Playing sports offers an element of fun for children.
While that certainly was the case for Cobourg’s Cameron Bruce, it was also much more than that.
“I think what I like most is it was an opportunity to push yourself and an opportunity to be the best version of yourself,” he says. “It really helped me find my interests, who I was and specifically once track and field started at school and realize you had a gift for something and it kind of becomes addicting to be good at something. I found it pretty addicting to be good at something and once you see results you just want to keep pushing and pushing and pushing.”
Cameron feels fortunate to have played fastball with the Cobourg Legion Minor Softball Organization growing up. He also began playing hockey at a young age, but that ended when he was about 10.
“I started to realize my skills were better suited for things off the ice,” he says. “I started to really fall in love with basketball and basketball became my main sport when I figured out I could jump high and there’s not much use for that in hockey.”
Cameron found enjoyment playing Saturday mornings with the Lakeshore Minor Basketball Association and later also played the sport at Cobourg Collegiate Institute.
“I love to play basketball so I remember when I was a kid playing Saturday mornings for hours on end, not wanting to come home, but then coming home and being too sore to move,” he says.
His height and jumping ability enabled him to be successful playing volleyball for CCI as well.
Track and field became a passion for Cameron. While still in elementary school, he attended a high school practice with his older brother James at the former CDCI East (now CCI) and discovered a natural ability to compete in hurdles.
He joined the Durham Dragons and has enjoyed success at the club level, but was also a well-rounded track and field athlete at CCI.
“I fell in love with it,” Cameron says. “It was a great outlet and a great experience for me.”
Cameron qualified for the OFSAA provincial championship 10 times in track and field during his tenure at CCI. In addition to qualifying in both of his hurdle events in all four years, he also made it in high jump in Grade 9 and long jump in Grade 10.
His Grade 11 and 12 years were both challenging due to injury, but he still qualified for the OFSAA meet both years.
“Being able to still compete at the highest level meant a lot,” Cameron says.
Growing up, Cameron was a big Toronto Raptors fan. His family often vacationed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina so he enjoyed watching Cam Ward with the Carolina Hurricanes and Cam Newton with the Carolina Panthers.
He was also inspired by track and field athletes like Damien Warner, a former basketball player who became a world-class decathlete for Canada. Cameron enjoyed meeting Warner when he was in Grade 9.
“His work ethic and poise really stuck with me,” Cameron says.
Following his success at the high school level, Cameron continues to excel in hurdles at the University of Toronto, where he is majoring in finance and economics.
That doesn’t mean it was an easy transition. The height of the hurdles went from 36 inches in high school to 42 at the university level.
Battling a concussion was also a challenge during his first season, then he fell during his race at the Ontario University Athletics championships before placing fifth in the 60-metre hurdles at the U Sports national championships in 2019.
In 2020, Cameron had what he considered to be a breakthrough season, winning the OUA title in 60-metre hurdles and placing second at U Sports championships, with the third fastest time in U of T Varsity Blues history for that event.
“Now following high school I’m seeing that once I have the opportunity to compete healthy and sort of be the best version of myself, I’m actually a lot better than I was in high school,” Cameron says.
Cameron still has three years of eligibility remaining since this past season was wiped out. That was a new challenge to face, which he says “hasn’t been easy.”
“It’s been a bit of a blessing being able to work on things that maybe I didn’t have a chance to work on before because you’re always preparing for the next race,” Cameron added. “It’s been really hard without racing because I don’t even know where I’m at right now. Am I as good as I was a year-and-a-half ago? Nobody really knows at this point.”
Cameron joined the May 12 episode of the Total Sports Northumberland podcast to talk about his sports background and also chat with two-time Olympian and World champion in hurdles Perdita Felicien. He asked her about overcoming tough days, dealing with pre-race nerves and the best ways to stay motivated.
You can listen to the questions and answers here:
You can listen to the full episode at: http://www.totalsportsnorthumberland.ca/2021/05/12/podcast-episode-4-with-cameron-bruce-perdita-felicien-and-ryan-bolton/
You can also stream or download the audio version at:
Podbean – totalsportsnorthumberland.podbean.com
To nominate an athlete for Athlete Spotlight, visit: http://www.totalsportsnorthumberland.ca/athlete-spotlight/