Andre De Grasse, Canadian sprinter, catches Donovan Bailey's attention
'Kind of reminds me of myself'
Former Olympic 100-metre champion Donovan Bailey says rising Canadian track star Andre De Grasse has really caught his attention.
"He's extremely talented and he's hungry," Bailey said. "He's also in the NCAA system now [at USC] so he's essentially in one of the best grassroots systems for sprinters."
Bailey was on hand Thursday for a Toronto Pan Am Games podium unveiling at Nathan Phillips Square.
"He won in junior college, he won indoors at NCAA — so he's not afraid of people," Bailey said. "Which kind of reminds me of myself."
The Canadian roster for the Games will be unveiled next month but De Grasse is a virtual lock for the squad.
He recently broke the Canadian record in the 200 metres and ran the 100 in 9.97 seconds, the fastest time clocked by a Canadian in 16 years. Bailey's 100-metre world record in 1996 was 9.84 seconds. Jamaica's Usain Bolt holds the current mark of 9.58.
With De Grasse's hometown of Markham, Ont., just a short drive away from the Pan Am venue, it should be an electric atmosphere for one of the showcase events of the Games.
"He trains and competes in a pressurized system every day," Bailey said. "So I think that it'll be easy for him. He's just got to stay relaxed, run his race and bring back a gold medal and hopefully a nice Canadian record. It'd be good."
Bailey believes the support of a hometown crowd will help De Grasse at the Games.
"When you can look into the stands and you can see family and friends and teammates and coaches, I think it makes it a little easier," Bailey said.
With files The Canadian Press