“It was a really good feeling, all my hard work had paid off in that moment … Because of Covid-19 and the Pandemic lock downs, I had an extra year to train for my competitions. ‘I got the gold medal now’ throughout the years I was always coming up short. I was always winning silver or bronze and I really wanted to bring first place home. I was excited to represent Canada and make my family and friends proud.”
Whether you believe in fate or not, Andre De Grasse was meant to be.
Andre De Grasse is a six-time Olympic medalist and the first Canadian sprinter to win three medals in a single Olympics. With a then-personal-best time of 9.91 seconds in the 100m, he was Canada’s first Olympic medalist in the event since Donovan Bailey in Atlanta 1996. Then, when competing in the 200m-dash in Tokyo 2020, a byproduct of his gold medal was that he also managed to cover the distance faster than Usain Bolt—a man many consider to be speed incarnate. Growing up around his athletic mom who played netball and track in high school, he knew he just wanted to make her proud.
Unlike some athletes who grow up playing the sport they choose to pursue as a career, De Grasse discovered running later in life. “I grew up playing basketball and soccer,” he says, not getting into track until his senior year of high school, when he was 17. However, he wasn’t completely adverse to running. “I think I was in 5th grade and I ended up winning a [track/cross country team] race and I got a red ribbon,” he recalls.
With his heart set on basketball, this was the only time he ran races as a kid. De Grasse’s lack of fear of change, on the other hand, aided him when a friend invited him to a York University game, where he was discovered by his coach, Tony Sharp. He describes himself as being at a crossroads: “stick with basketball or do I transition and go to track?”
“It was kind of just on a whim […] I thought ‘let’s take the chance. I’m really good at it and I’m talented and maybe I can go far.”
This assurance, however, initially took some convincing. At Sharp’s words of amazement, De Grasse describes thoughts of deception and naivety. He recalls thinking, “What is this guy talking about?” when he first heard about going to the Olympics.
“[Sharp] sat down with me and was serious like ‘I think you could go far.’”
However, physical preparation is not all that he watches out for. In other interviews he reminds himself “I just had ro make sure my mental was strong—that was the most important thing.” After training for five hours a day and making sure he’s really taking care of his body so as to avoid all injuries, all while being a new father, he’s ready for his first Olympics.
“All my hard work has paid off to that moment”
De Grasse exhaled a sigh of relief as he laid on the Canadian flag, knowing he had made those who supported him proud.
To give back, he established the Andre De Grasse Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament that takes place this year on December 27th and 28th 2022. He says “basketball was my first passion. When I started my foundation, I wanted to do something to inspire the kids over the holidays.” After a basketball tournament was suggested to him by friends, he created this annual event for kids in the GTA.
Now, as he prepares for Paris 2024, he reminds himself to enjoy the training process. “Just go out there, have fun with my teammates, and have fun with my coach.”
We’re looking forward to seeing what other milestones De Grasse achieves and how far his perseverance and drive will take him.