Canadian sprints star Andre De Grasse finally won his first gold medal at a global championship on Wednesday with a national record of 19.62. Days after taking bronze in the 100-meters, De Grasse is the first Canadian to win gold in the 200 meters at the Olympics since Percy Williams in 1928.
"I went back after the 100 and I was a little bit disappointed in myself, that I could have done better," De Grasse said Wednesday. "I said, 'I gotta go and get this 200, I gotta go and get it.'"
The United States took the next three spots in the results with Kenny Bednarek taking silver following a personal best of 19.68. Reigning world champion Noah Lyles ran 19.74 for bronze and 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton ran 19.98 for fourth place.
De Grasse burst onto the world scene in 2015 winning a bronze medal in the 100 meters and 4 x 100-meter relay. The performances earned him a multi-year contract worth $11.25 million, which is considered one of the biggest contracts in the sport.
At the 2016 Olympics, De Grasse went viral for his mid-race smile with Usain Bolt in the semifinal of the men's 200 meters. Bolt ended up getting the best of him in the final by .24 seconds and De Grasse left with a silver medal to go along with his bronze in the 100 meters.
In 2017, De Grasse withdrew from the world championships due to a hamstring injury, and then didn't make a full recovery until he switched coaches in late December 2018. He moved to Florida and started working with coach Rana Reider. De Grasse got back to top form at the 2019 world championships and took bronze in the 100 meters and silver in the 200 meters. The gold was still missing.
Part of De Grasse's problem (aside from Bolt – who was a problem for sprinters for more than a decade) has been the strong contingent of American sprinters that always happened to be a tad quicker. Lyles beat De Grasse in all five of their previous 200-meter races against each other. Bednarek beat De Grasse at two meets in Florida last year and in two Diamond League races this season. De Grasse did manage to beat 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton, who made history as the youngest Olympic finalist and boasts a 19.84, personal best at a meet in Hungary.
With the fastest time out of the blocks, De Grasse looked to change that and managed to clock the fastest time in the world for 2021 and the 18th-fastest performance in history. His golden moment has finally come as he held off the Americans.
"I knew the Americans were going to push me and they were going to take me to a personal best," De Grasse said."It's been five years since I had a personal best, so it was just good to get that finally out the way."
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