Andre De Grasse couldn’t get over the slow start in Tokyo, but he’s just getting started.
No, De Grasse did not win a gold, but he did win a bronze, establishing himself as one of the most decorated sprinters in the world.
He came out in Tokyo looking like a man on a mission, running 9.91, the fastest in his first run, the fastest time this year.
De Grasse was scheduled to run in the toughest semifinal and, after a false start and multiple technical problems with the starting technology, a long delay meant some tense runners.
The false start in the semifinal and final were shadows of Donovan Bailey in Atlanta in 1996, where there was also a false start and a long delay.
De Grasse scored a 9.98 in the semi-finals that helped him pass, but left him trapped in a terrible lane assignment: on an island in lane nine.
The surprise winner, Italian Marcell Jacobs, beat the competition to win the men’s 100-meter race in 9.80 seconds. American Fred Kerley finished in 9.84 and De Grasse was third with 9.89.
BRONZE FOR ANDRE DE GRASSE
Finish behind Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Fred Kerley in the men’s 100-meter final pic.twitter.com/U7OfVgC9Qr
– CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 1, 2021
De Grasse was in last place at 25 meters, which generally means his night is over in lane nine. But, similar to his prep for these games, he was calm enough not to panic, keep his head down, and keep working.
He has surpassed not only in this meeting, but between the Olympic Games. Two hamstring tears ensured his 2017 and 2018 seasons were plagued with injuries, plus delaying the 2020 games due to the pandemic ruined his training. The fact that he was healthy and on the starting line was a victory in itself.
The Canadian sprinter ran a personal record of 9.89 in the 100-meter final, winning the Olympic bronze consecutively in the event.
In doing so, De Grasse won the first Canadian medal ever won by a man in these games, adding to the dominance of women in and out of the pool.
He also climbs the list of the best times for a Canadian in the 100-meter race, now trailing only Bailey (1996 Olympics) 9.84 and Bruny Surin (1999 World Championships) 9.84, tying Surin’s 9.89. at the 1998 Canadian Championship.
De Grasse is in great company, but gold would have changed his trajectory and cemented him as the face of Canadian athletics.
The title of “World’s Fastest Man” was unrivaled for most of Usain Bolt’s career. That was supposed to change in these games. With Christian Coleman’s absence from Tokyo related to drug testing, Trayvon Bromell entered the games as the betting favorite, but struggled through the playoffs and missed the final. Bromell entered Tokyo with victories in 15 of his previous 16 100-meter races. His absence on Sunday seemed to clear the top of the podium for De Grasse.
De Grasse rarely dominates on the Diamond League circuit, but “Big Race Dre” often plays possum and saves the best for when it really counts.
It was an open field all prepared for De Grasse to take the torch in the 100 meters. Since 1996, there have only been four sprinters to win the men’s 100m Olympic, with Bailey doing it for Canada, as well as Americans Maurice Greene and Justin Gatlin and, of course, Jamaican Usain Bolt as a three-time champion.
“It’s going to be OK; He runs like me, I mean he’s very slow on the blocks, but when he gets going, he gets going, ”Bolt said in 2016, predicting De Grasse would rise up and take over after Bolt retired.
De Grasse responded at the time by saying “He feels like I’m next, and now I’m trying to measure up.” Which could honestly be impossible.
He has the double pressure of being the heir apparent to Bolt on the world stage and Bailey in Canada.
Furthermore, the pressure to keep up to date in your own home. De Grasse and her partner, world hurdles champion Nia Ali, are the fastest parents in the world to their daughter, Yuri, and it looked like De Grasse was going to bring her own gold medal home.
So while this may seem not to live up to that hype, the key to remember is that De Grasse is still only 26 years old and will be 29 when the next Olympics roll around. Barring injury and interest, he could have another Olympics, if not two. For context, Bailey was 29 when she won Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996.
De Grasse is eight of eight in Olympic and world championship finals, every major race he has been in has won a medal. De Grasse continues to contribute to his legacy of great consistency in the race even though the gold medal still eludes him.
After winning silver in the 200 meters at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the World Championships in 2019, another individual medal is still within reach in 2021.
It wasn’t going to be Sunday, but his best chance is ahead of him as he is better positioned to win gold in the 200m and the Canadians will also be in the mix in the 4x100m final.
In the 200 meters his personal best is 19.80, which is a national record.
Andre De Grasse of Canada reacts after winning the bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter final during the Tokyo Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, August 1, 2021. (Frank Gunn / CP)
De Grasse usually exhausts the field, which is why his 200-meter prospects are even stronger than his 100. But the 100 is the main event, the money-maker that may seem like a missed opportunity despite strong performance. .
De Grasse, however, still has a positive outlook.
“I feel like every year I’m getting better. I still have time in me,” the always upbeat De Grasse told CBC on track in the mixed zone after his career. “I did my best. I am grateful for my performance “
De Grasse had not dropped below 9.9 in 61 professional races, so now that that barrier has been broken, the sky is the limit.
It’s important not to downplay the importance that his personal best of 9.89 earned him his fourth Olympic medal.
De Grasse did not lose gold, he won bronze. By becoming the first Canadian sprinter to claim two medals in the 100 meters, he showed that he can achieve results and that his best is probably still ahead of him, in these games and beyond.