Doha, family, Canadian success: After a strong year, Andre De Grasse has his eyes set on gold in 2020
As Andre De Grasse crossed the finish line inside Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, 19.95 flashed beside his name. Words could not explain his emotions at that moment, as he fell onto one knee to reflect and take in the season he had leading up to that point.
“I was just happy,” De Grasse admitted as he reflected back on the moment. “To get back on the podium, I knew I didn’t win gold but to just be there and get that close to it. At that moment, I felt like I’m at 90 percent and I can work to get to 100 percent next year.”
A season that began with many doubters and uncertainties, many didn’t know what to expect from the Canadian sprinter that went toe-to-toe against the great Usain Bolt at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But as the season went on, the 25 year-old De Grasse quickly proved to the world, and more importantly to himself, that his injuries that nagged him throughout the last year and a half were behind him.
“It was great to run early in the season pain free. I knew I wasn’t really running as fast as I could, I was just happy to be running quick times,” said De Grasse. “I wasn’t at sub-10, sub-20 form but I knew I could build off that. What kind of switched on the green light for me was in London, when I ran my first sub-10 seconds, I told myself I had to keep working and keep building off of this until the World Championships.”
De Grasse would depart those World Championships with a silver and bronze medal to his name, including a personal-best time of 9.90 in 100-metre final, 0.06 seconds off of the Canadian record held by Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin.
He also happened to have a new fan waiting for him at the finish line, he was able to take his daughter, Yuri, around the track to celebrate. As he gets older, De Grasse wants to share more of these moments with his daughter and family. In the long run, De Grasse hopes to support her just like how she’s supporting him now.
“Whatever she does, I’ll be happy either way, it doesn’t even have to be sports or track and field, just something that she’s passionate about and loves to do. I’ll be happy with whatever she does,” explained De Grasse. “We’re in this world where equality is important and I want her to hopefully live in that world and have that opportunity.”
Not only was 2019 a big year for De Grasse, it was also a huge year for Canada across all sports. An avid fan of the Toronto Raptors, De Grasse says there are no words to describe the moment when the Raptors won the NBA Championships and the atmosphere that came with it across the country.
“It was so exciting, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. For them to win the title and for the city to have a parade, watching it on TV, I felt like I was there,” De Grasse said at his third annual Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament. “I was so happy, I just took so much pride in it.”
Asked about if track and field could bring that similar experience to Canada, De Grasse had no doubts about it. With the Olympic Games only six months away, the Markham-native wants to get Canada excited.
“The Olympics are every four years and that’s when everyone tunes in, so if I could bring back a gold, or the 4×100-metre relay team could bring back a gold, I feel like we can be national heroes,” De Grasse says, smiling.
“When I came back in 2016 with three Olympic medals, I didn’t know what to expect. To become a household name and not even win gold, I think if I can make that happen and win gold in Tokyo, I don’t even know what would happen, the sky’s the limit.”
With only a handful of months left, his goal is no longer to reach the podium at the Olympics. He wants to be atop the podium in Tokyo and he knows what he has to work on to get to that next level.
Working on his start has always been high on his list of things to work on, but he is also getting stronger, more work in the weight room so that he can be the best he can be when it’s time to perform in Tokyo.
“My goal is simple. I won a bronze, won a silver, I’m hoping to come home with the gold. I want to think about the highest level,” De Grasse said. “I know it’s a process, it’s a struggle, but I’m getting better, running faster and eventually it will come to me and hopefully, it will be in that Olympic final. I know it is possible, I just need to put it all together.”
Finishing off this sentence, “In 2020, Andre de Grasse will…” the Canadian sprinter replied, “bring home that gold.” And like he told himself the night he fell onto one knee in Doha, “I made it, I’m feeling good, and the best is yet to come.”
Andre De Grasse is ready for 2020.