Not many University of Michigan students can say they are Olympic medalists, but sophomore Movement Science student Jayde Riviere can. She was a member of Canada’s gold-medal-winning women’s soccer team during this past summer's 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
While Riviere has been on Canada’s senior national team since the age of 16, this was her first-ever Olympics – and she is still processing her experience. “Just being there and seeing the Olympic rings being plastered everywhere was a big moment for me in terms of realization that I was actually at the Olympics,” Riviere said.
Canada defeated Sweden 2-1 following a penalty kick shootout, earning the team’s first-ever gold medal after capturing back-to-back bronze medals in prior Olympics. Riviere said winning the gold medal didn’t hit her until she stepped onto the podium and heard her country’s anthem.
“It’s amazing to win gold in whatever sport, but I think for soccer, it meant a lot to our veterans, and it meant a lot to Canada because women’s soccer in Canada was always seen as ‘just a good team.’ So to be able to win, it just inspired our whole nation,” Riviere said.
While the Pickering, Ontario, native was only home for one evening before heading back to Ann Arbor to start her women’s varsity soccer season, it was quite the celebration. Riviere said her dad picked her up from the airport and as they were driving down their street, the entire neighborhood came out to cheer and celebrate her accomplishment. The only thing she could see was her neighbors applauding and posters taped to lampposts and fences.
Riviere said the coolest part was taking pictures with the neighborhood children and seeing their faces light up when she put the gold medal around their necks.
“For them to be able to wear it, to feel it, to take a picture with it, it represents more than just Canada soccer winning a medal. It was for all Canadians,” she said.
Riviere admitted that it still hasn’t sunk in that she’s an Olympic gold medalist. However, she is quickly shifting her focus to U-M’s soccer season before turning her attention to qualifying for Canada’s 2023 World Cup team.
For them to be able to wear it, to feel it, to take a picture with it, it represents more than just Canada soccer winning a medal. It was for all Canadians.
She’s also looking to combine her Movement Science degree with a minor in marketing or business to set herself up for a career after playing soccer professionally overseas.
Riviere said she finds herself relating what she learns in her Movement Science classes to her everyday training regimen. She quizzes herself during sessions with U-M athletic trainers by naming bones when discussing various injuries that pop up throughout a typical season. “Even when I’m running, I’m wondering if my gait motion is normal,” Riviere said. “I love being able to study my own body.”