“I am shaking, this is great for track and field in Canada.” – Former Olympian Donovan Bailey told CBC Sports.
It is true that with time and determination comes perfection, and with this twenty-one year old sprinter all expectations are exceeded. Andre De Grasse has evolved from finishing last at the last Diamond League competition against greats like Gay, Powell, and Gatlin, to beating former record holder Powell in the American Track and Field event. Not to mention his cop of bronze and a personal best of 9.91, behind Bolt and Gatlin in the men’s 100 meter final proved that he may become a future sprint champion.
De Grasse is single-handedly the first Canadian sprinter to be awarded three medals in a single Olympic event. He won silver in the men’s 200-meter and bronze in both the 100-meter and 4 x 100 meter relay at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. He was also the first Canadian to win a medal in the 200 meters since Percy Williams won in 1928.
Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada to mother Beverly De Grasse and father Alex Waithe to whom he attributes his successes and takes his failures as learning experiences; this is how he was taught at a young age.
“My parents have motivated me, kept me grounded and humble to be able to continue to the best of my ability. Without them, I wouldn’t make it this far in the sport because there are a lot of ups and downs. You might not have run as fast as you wanted but they always tell me to stay patient, work hard and the results will show.” – Andre De Grasse told CBC Sports.
There is no doubt that he has the Caribbean blood in its veins despite being a Canadian native. Sprinting is in his DNA; his mother, Beverly, was a former high school sprinter, born in Trinidad and Tobago his father was also a sprinter in Barbados prior to moving to Canada.
“I was born in Ontario and grew up in Markham and I have always been a fan of being Canadian to have people look up to me and the fact I am inspiring people to do this for it is really a good feeling.” – Andre De Grasse.
Moving to Markham, he was schooled in the area and on trying out for track and field one day in his basketball shorts and shoes, he never looked back.
“My first memory of competition running was in grade 12, I started track. I was discovered by an Olympian Tony Sharpe and he took me under his wing.” – Andre De Grasse.
He won silver at the Pan-American Junior Championships in the men’s 100-meter and bronze in the 200-meter in Medellin 2013. He is reigning champion in the NCAA 2015 men’s 100-meter and 200-meter and record holder in the 200-meter. Winning those races made him the 7th fastest man in the world and the fastest man in Canada.
He went on to compete in the men’s 100 and 200 Pan American games in Ontario 2015 and won Gold. He broke another record for also being the first Canadian to run both sub-10 and sub-20 in the 100 meters and 200 meters respectively.
“He runs just like me. He is really slow at the blocks but when he gets out, he gets out, so I think he can improve his start much better than me because he’s shorter.” – Usain Bolt
De Grasse never stopped there as he entered the World Championships in 2015 in Beijing and took two bronze, one in the men’s 100 and the other in the 4x 100 meter relay. Upon turning a professional De Grasse signed with Puma for a whopping 11.25 million dollars.
“I have not tested that limits where I can be really fast. You know, being able to break a world record or be the fastest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. Once I accomplish that, then I can say I am fast.” – Andre De Grasse told CBC Sports.
However, the most rewarding experience for him to date was the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
When asked is De Grasse the future of sprinting?
He responded, “It’s a tough question, but I feel like I’m capable of doing it. The next Olympics I’m looking forward to.” – Andre De Grasse.
By Alexandra Daley