Track·CBC SPORTS IN TOKYO

'Now he's a legend': Andre De Grasse wins Olympic gold in men's 200m

The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., posted a time of 19.62 seconds in the 200-metre final on Wednesday at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, capturing the one medal that had eluded him until now: gold.

Fellow Canadian Aaron Brown finishes 6th

Canada's Andre De Grasse celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 200m final on Wednesday at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. (Getty Images)

On this night in Tokyo, nothing was going to stop Canada's Andre De Grasse.

With three Americans bearing down on the five-foot-eight Canadian on a stifling night, De Grasse found a different gear in the final seconds of the 200-metre final.

De Grasse surged down the stretch in lane six – powerful, precise, and explosive strides to the line. 

In a Canadian record time of 19.62 seconds, he crossed the line first to become Olympic champion, ahead of American Kenneth Bednarek.

WATCH | Andre De Grasse blazes to Olympic gold in the 200m: 

De Grasse blazes down backstretch to win 200m gold

2 months ago
7:04
Canadian Andre De Grasse finished strong to take home the gold medal in a Canadian record time of 19.62 seconds. 7:04

Bednarek won silver in a time of 19.68. American Noah Lyles captured bronze with a time of 19.74.

When De Grasse crossed the line, he knew he had won gold.  

"When I looked up at the scoreboard the camera was on me and I knew I did it. I was just so proud of myself," he said. 

De Grasse collapsed to the track, lying on his back and holding his head in disbelief.

"It feels amazing. Won the gold. Had a personal best. I couldn't have asked for more. This was the race of my life," he told CBC Sports. 

"I'm so happy. I'm so proud of myself. I finally got it done. I've been working hard for this moment for the past five years."

A medal for each event

The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., now has five Olympic medals. He's won a medal in every event he's competed in over two Games.

But it was that gold medal he craved so badly. This was his moment and he met it on Wednesday night.

"I knew I had to get off the bend. I knew I had to," he said.

WATCH | Andre De Grasse finally gets his golden moment:

Andre De Grasse finally gets his golden moment at the Olympics

2 months ago
1:39
Canada's Andre De Grasse won gold in the 200-metre race, setting a national record while taking over the title from legendary sprinter Usain Bolt. 1:39

"That was the only way I was going to win this race. I knew the Americans were going to go after it. They run hard bends."

De Grasse said he just told himself to keep pumping his arms, breathe, relax and just go.

"That's what I told myself. I got that done. When I watched the replay I was so excited. I'm speechless," he said.

Fellow Canadian finishes 6th

For the first time since 1928, two Canadian men were running in the 200m final. Aaron Brown, from Toronto, finished sixth with a time of 20.20.

After the race, Brown revealed a photo of his wife and son that he had placed under his bib for the race.

"I run for Canada. I run for my fans. But most importantly I run for my wife and son," Brown told CBC Sports.  

De Grasse's win marks the first time in 93 years a Canadian has sprinted to gold in the men's 200 metre. Percy Williams did it in 1928 at the Games in Amsterdam — and it's only the third time in the history of the Olympics a Canadian has captured the gold medal in the event.

WATCH | De Grasse shares a special moment with his family after the race:

De Grasse shares special moment with family after winning 200m Olympic gold

2 months ago
0:44
Andre De Grasse got to speak to his family shortly after winning Olympic gold in the 200m sprint, sharing the moment with partner Nia Ali, and their children. 0:44

After the race De Grasse took off his shoes and walked around the track draped in a maple leaf. He posed in front of hundreds of photographers as their cameras flashed away. 

De Grasse then made his way over to a screen near the press area. His partner Nia Ali and children were waving wildly. 

"I'll see you soon. I love you guys. I'll FaceTime you later. I can't believe it. Oh my God. I did it," De Grasse said to them.

Emerging from the shadow of Bolt

When De Grasse won his silver medal five years ago in this same event in Rio, he did it in a time of 20.02. 

He was in the shadow of the greatest of them all. Usain Bolt won gold in every race he competed in during those Games – in total, Bolt won eight Olympic gold medals.  

De Grasse and Bolt's mutual respect and admiration for one another became one of the stories from those Games. The unforgettable and lasting images of that famous look-over at one another.

WATCH | De Grasse reflects on his gold-medal winning race:

De Grasse on 200m gold: 'I trained for this, 6 days a week, twice a day'

2 months ago
3:44
Andre De Grasse, Canada's newest gold medallist, explains the hard work and mental preparation that went into winning the 200m race. 3:44

The celebration of each other's medals after the races.

But in the post-Bolt era at the Olympics the door swung open for the Canadian, and he blasted through it.

"It was tough. I trained for this. Six days a week, two times a day before I get my kids," De Grasse said. 

"I knew mentally I was there. Physically I was there but this race all came down to mental preparation."

Dave Moorcroft, CBC Sports commentator and former runner from England, said De Grasse's poise under pressure makes him great.

"Gold medals are precious. And gold medals in track are particularly precious," Moorcroft said.

"Athletics is the most global sport. To then be the fastest is an extra special status. Andre was close to icon status coming here. Now he's a legend."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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