By Michelle Clarke
On your mark, and the stadium went silent for the men’s100M semi-final tension where Canadian Andre de Grasse was a fan favourite. The gun went and 9.97 seconds later De Grasse had taken first place securing his place in the 100M final. With only a few hours to rest up for the next race de Grasse said, “I’m feeling pretty good. I just have to get ready for the finals, get some treatment, and try and win the gold for Canada.”
With a couple of hours until his next race, I was thinking about the pressure de Grasse must be under. Even after three years of racing, this year in Eugene, Oregon where he set an unofficial (wind assisted) Canadian record, the field had no idea who this guy was. From Markham, Ontario, de Grasse was discovered at a track meet where he showed up in a pair of basketball shorts. That was the turning point in his life. Since then he has officially set the Canadian record in the 200M at the NCAA Pac-12 Conference Championships de Grasse crushed the 200M with a time of 20.03, beating the previous record held by Aaron Brown at 20.16.
With the final event ready to start, the eight men took to their lanes for the last and final introductions. Something fun about the sprint races is how all the athletes have their own camera show, much like a UFC fighter, except not nearly as aggressive. When de Grasse was announced the crowd went wild and as the runners took their positions in the blocks, the stadium was on their feet.
With the sprints, it’s a bit of a blur of action. The race started, in 10 seconds it was over and you couldn’t even hear the announcer over the screams. de Grasse pushed and lunged forward just as he’d practiced over and over again taking first in a time of 10.05.
Looking both tired and elated de Grasse came over to chat with the media after the medal ceremony. Not only did de Grasse grab another gold medal for Canada, but it was also surprising to hear this event wasn’t even the main goal! “My coach has loaded me up for the 2015 Pan Am Games since the main focus is the world. This is kind of a train through meet the, 100m and 200m to try to start back from the beginning of the season to get back another peak for the World Championships,” he said.
de Grasse still has a 200M race to focus on in the coming days. Even though his handlers didn’t want him to stop, he couldn’t help himself; he started high fiving and fist pumping everyone around me. Needless to say, I couldn’t let the moment pass and he graciously let me take a selfie with him. Briefly mentioning a documentary that was filmed about his athletic journey, there’s no question that he’s bound for greatness, stay tuned; it will surely be an amazing story.