Track and Field

Andre De Grasse, Canadian sprinter, wasn't ready to turn pro in summer

Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse has no regrets about returning to the University of Southern California rather than turn professional, saying "there were a lot of downfalls of me going pro too early."

Sprinter cites school, Olympic training as reasons to hold off on professional career

After winning medals at the 2015 Pan American Games and world track and field championships, Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse believes he's made the right choice by returning to school and postponing a professional career. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Instead of sourcing deals and planning his first season as a pro athlete, Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse is preparing for mid-term exams.

De Grasse, who rose to fame at the 2015 Pan Am Games and world track and field championships, is back on the West Coast, starting his final year at the University of Southern California. Despite his wildly successful summer —gold at Pan Ams and bronze at worlds, both in the 100-metre sprint — and potential financial gains, De Grasse says he wasn't ready to go professional.

"There was a lot of pressure, there was a lot of numbers," De Grasse told CBC Sports on Saturday. "I thought to myself, 'Wow, are they really offering this?' But nothing was guaranteed; there were no forms or letters. It was just talk."

There were a lot of downfalls of me going pro too early. What if I didn't do well at the [2016 Rio] Olympics?- Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse

The uncertainty, as well as the possibility of giving up a secured $70,000 US annual scholarship, gave the 20-year-old a lot to consider. 

"There were a lot of downfalls of me going pro too early. What if I didn't do well at the [2016 Rio] Olympics?" said De Grasse. 

"All that money would have got cut," he said. "So I said 'I'm just going to wait for my time to go pro.' And I felt it wasn't my time."

De Grasse considers completing his degree just as important.

"College is only a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I want to enjoy it," said De Grasse. "There's only so far you can go in the sport.

"A degree is the most important thing."

But that doesn't mean the Olympics aren't on his mind. Though he remains a student, De Grasse expects his training tactics to change this year to reflect his post-collegiate goals.

"This year my coach wasn't training me at 100 per cent," said De Grasse, estimating he was trained at 70 per cent.

"I'm going crazy in my head thinking what I can do if she trains me at 100 per cent."

De Grasse was in Toronto to accept an award as favourite male athlete of the year at the annual Athletics Ontario awards banquet. Long-distance runner Melissa Bishop, high jumper Derek Drouin and hurdler Nikkita Holder were also in attendance.


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