Track and Field
Waking the Echoes: Olympic hopes live on for Jeremy Rae
Marek Mazurek | Tuesday, February 10, 2015
When Jeremy Rae toed the starting line of the Meyo Mile on Saturday, it was almost as if nothing had changed in the year since he graduated. Rae may come from the small town of Fort Erie, Ontario, but for five years, Notre Dame was his home.
And while he competed for the Irish, there was little Rae did not accomplish. A three-time All-American, one of the NCAA’s best in the 1,500-meter and part of a national championship distance medley relay team in 2012, Rae dipped below the four-minute mark in the mile on multiple occasions and won a silver medal representing Canada in the 2013 World University Games. He also earned all-conference honors three times in cross country.
And throughout it all, the Meyo Mile was Rae’s signature race. On one of the nation’s fastest indoor tracks in Loftus Sports Center, Rae won the race three times in four years, going below four minutes every time and setting a school record in his last victory.
Yet for all his collegiate accomplishments, Rae fell on tough times in the months after leaving Notre Dame. An achilles sprain denied Rae the opportunity to represent Canada in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. One month later, mumps and brain swelling forced Rae off the track for the entire summer.
“I wanted to race last summer,” Rae said. “I missed the Commonwealth Games, I really wanted to qualify for it. It was my first down year in my entire career. … It was bound to happen eventually.”
Rae did not let his injuries keep him down, though, and he attributes his comeback to the trainers at his new track club, Speed River New Balance, in Guelph, Ontario.
“I had to be consistent and push through it,” Rae said. “We have a great medical team [at Speed River]. We got some cool [physiological therapy] and everything we need to be healthy. It took me a while, and I’m just rounding into shape now.”
Rae also said he chose to join Speed River New Balance because he believed the club could help him achieve his goal of making the Olympics.
“I joined Speed River because it’s 90 minutes from where I live,” Rae said. “I had heard great things about coach Dave [Scott-Thomas]. He’s coached six Olympians and I just wanted to get in there because that’s my ultimate goal — to make the Olympics in 2016. I knew that if I wanted to make [the Olympics] I had to go somewhere with proven success.”
Rae’s goal may seem lofty considering that he is still recovering from his injuries, but the numbers show that gradually, his performances have been improving. Rae posted a 4-minute, 3.58 second-mile at the New Balance Games on Jan. 26. Then, last Saturday in the Meyo Mile, he came close to recapturing his sub-four minute mile form with a time of 4 minutes, 1.88 seconds. He finished third overall.
Notre Dame coach Alan Turner said he thinks Rae will be able to qualify for the Olympics.
“He definitely does,” Turner said when asked if Rae had the talent to make it. “He hasn’t hit his top level yet. He hasn’t peaked yet. Now he can space out his training, space out his racing so he can be fresh for the summer. Jeremy’s one of the best Canada has, so I’m quite sure he’ll get his stuff together in 2016.”
Echoing Turner’s confidence, Rae said he remains hopeful that he can qualify for the very next Olympiad in Rio, despite the fact that it is only a year away.
“I am optimistic,” Rae said. “It’s not like I’m racing at an Olympic level right now, but it’ll come. I have faith in my training partners and coach. It’ll happen. I have to stay away from injuries and be consistent. … The mile isn’t an Olympic event. It’s the 1,500-meter and my best is 3:38 and I have to get a 3:36 to qualify. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility.”
For the moment, though, Rae said he is just happy to be able to come back and race at his alma mater.
“It’s very different,” Rae said on returning to Notre Dame. “I’m not sleeping in the dorms like I’m used to. It feels like I’m competing at an away meet, but really so many things are familiar as well. It’s so nice to see the team, I was on the team with most of these guys. I had my time here so it’s not like I’m sad to come back, but it’s fun to be back and competing.”