Canada's Andre De Grasse wins gold in 200-metre final at Tokyo Olympics
Published Wednesday, August 4, 2021 8:58AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 4, 2021 11:30AM EDT
TOKYO -- Canada's Andre De Grasse is golden -- finally.
The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., raced to victory in the men's 200 metres at the Tokyo Olympics, cementing his place among the all-time great sprinters.
De Grasse roared to the finish line in a Canadian-record time of 19.62 seconds.
Gold was the one Olympic medal missing from De Grasse's collection. The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., raced to bronze in the 100 metres on Monday in Tokyo, and captured a silver and two bronze in 2016 in Rio. He's raced to a silver and three bronze over the 2015 and '19 world championships.
"I always felt like I came up for short winning bronze and silver, so it's just good to just have that gold medal. No one can take that away from me," said De Grasse, who was overcome by emotions while speaking to reporters.
Kenneth Bednarek took silver in 19.68 seconds and fellow American Noah Lyles earned bronze in 19.74.
Aaron Brown of Toronto was sixth in 20.20.
Winning his fifth Olympic medal -- and second in Tokyo after taking bronze in the 100 metres -- De Grasse tied Phil Edwards for the most by a Canadian track and field athlete. Edwards captured five bronze medals between 1928 and 1936.
De Grasse's victory comes 25 years -- plus a week -- after Donovan Bailey raced to 100-metre gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
He broke into tears when talking about his family -- longtime girlfriend Nia, who is the reigning world 100-metre hurdles champion for the U.S., his stepson Titus, daughter Yuri, and a son, whose name he hasn't revealed, who was born in May.
"I'm just so proud. I'm so proud of myself," he said. "This is for them, of course I put a lot of expectations on myself. But I just do it for my family, I do it for my kids."
Canada had two men in the 200-metre final for the first time since 1928, when Percy Williams took gold and teammate John Fitzpatrick finished fifth.
Brown, 29, was racing in his first individual Olympic final. He was on the 4x100 relay team with De Grasse that captured bronze in 2016 in Rio.
Canada's Damian Warner, meanwhile, opened his quest for an Olympic decathlon title in emphatic fashion and led at the halfway point.
The 31-year-old from London, Ont., got off to a great start, tying his decathlon world best in the men's 100 metres of 10.12. Then, 30 minutes later, Warner crushed the field in the long jump, soaring 8.24 metres, the longest in Olympic decathlon history and a distance that would have earned him a bronze medal in the open men's long jump earlier in the week.
Warner's lead diminished after the shot put, in which he finished 11th, and the high jump (eighth). But he rebounded with the third-best time in the 400 metres at 47.48 seconds to enter the halfway point in top spot with 4,722 points.
Australian Ashley Moloney, who had the best time in the 400, was second with 4,529 points.
Canadian teammate Pierce LePage also impressed over the first five events and was in third place with 4,529 points.
Warner is the No. 1-ranked decathlete in the world this year after shattering his Canadian record at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, Austria. His score of 8,995 there was the fourth best in history.
LePage, from Whitby, Ont., ran the 100 in 10.43, the third-fastest time on the morning. His 7.65 metres in long jump was second-best, and his throw of 15.31 in shot put was fourth. To cap the day, he posted the second-best 400 time at 46.92 seconds while running in a fast heat with Warner and Moloney.
Warner's Canadian record performance in May came after a winter of training in an unheated hockey arena in London. COVID-19 protocols shut down the University of Western Ontario indoor track facility, so his coaches outfitted the arena with a 40-metre track runway, pole vault and high jump pits, and a throwing circle.
The decathletes are facing gruelling conditions in Tokyo. The temperature at Olympic Stadium at 9 a.m. for the 100 metres was already 33 C, but felt like 47 C with the humidity.
Thursday's weather forecast calls for sun and a high of 35 C.
The decathlon features 10 events over two days. The 400 metres was the final event on Wednesday. Thursday's Day 2 events are the 110-metre hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and the 1,500 metres.
In other events, Genevieve Lalonde of Moncton, N.B., was 11th in the women's 3,000 steeplechase, shaving a couple of tenths of a second off her Canadian record to run 9:22.40.
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford clinched her spot in the women's 1,500 final by finishing third in her semi in a season's best 3:58.28. Her time was the third fastest on the night in the fastest semifinal in Olympic history with five women dipping under the four-minute mark.
Her younger sister Lucia Stafford was sixth in her semifinal (a personal best 4:02.12), and didn't advance.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021.