When Montreal’s Simone Plourde was presented with the possibility of turning pro, she knew it wasn’t an opportunity she wanted to decline. Although she had two years of eligibility left in the NCAA, competing for the University of Utah, Plourde had earned her degree, and there were bigger goals she wanted to accomplish on track.
On July 14, Plourde announced on social media that she had turned pro, joining Nike’s Union Athletics Club, based in Portland, Oregon. “When the opportunity to compete at the professional level presented itself, I knew I wanted to pursue that path,” says she Plourde.
Plourde received interest from multiple pro training groups following her victory in the 1,500m at the PAC-12 Championships and her impressive seventh-place finish at the 2023 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, in early June. union athletics club coach Pete Julian reached out to Plourde early on, expressing his belief in her as an athlete and the desire to coach. “The moment stood out for me when it came to making my decision,” says Plourde. “he [Julian] knows how to get the most out of his athletes, and once I visited the team in Portland, it felt like the right fit, knowing I’d be with athletes that would help me thrive to be better.”
Plourde says she still feels relatively new to the sport since starting to train seriously in 2018, and described this opportunity as surreal. “I remember attending the Portland Track Festival in 2019 and seeing koko [Konstanze Klosterhalfen] and Matt Centrowitz warming up,” she says. “I was in awe.”
The 22-year-old had several memorable moments during her NCAA career, including a standout performance at the 2023 PAC-12 conference championships, where she ran an impressive 4:09.48 to win and qualify for NCAA regionals, and 4:10.04 outdoors at the Drake Relays in April, finishing second to the reigning US 1,500m champion, Nikki Hiltz.
Plourde has been on fire in the past few weeks, earning back-to-back wins and personal bests in her 1,500m event on the Athletics Canada Track and Field Tour. In her first race in the Union Athletics Club singlet at the Harry Jerome Classic in Vancouver last weekend, she won the women’s 1,500m by a large margin, crossing the finish line in 4:06.47, the third-fastest time by a Canadian this year.
Plourde currently sits on the bubble for selection at the 2023 World Athletics Championships, ranked 66th in the world in the women’s 1,500m. Plourde now has her sights set on Canadian nationals at the end of July in Langley, BC, where a win or top-three finish in the women’s 1,500m could solidify her position on Team Canada for Budapest.