Track and Field

Andre De Grasse caps big day for Canada at world championships

Canada won five medals at the 2013 IAAF track and field world championships in Moscow. Two years later in Beijing, the country racked up three medals in a single day, highlighted by Andre De Grasse's bronze in the 100 metres.

100m bronze gives Canada 3 medals on Day 2

Canada's Andre De Grasse won a surprising bronze, while Usain Bolt took gold in the men's 100m. 7:02

Canada won five medals at the 2013 IAAF track and field world championships in Moscow. Two years later in Beijing, the country racked up three medals in a single day.

Sunday's climax came in the men's 100-metre final. Andre De Grasse had qualified by matching Usain Bolt for the top time in their semifinal heat. Such was the quality of the field that, for the first time in history, all qualifiers had to run under 10 seconds to earn their spots. 

Despite his strong semifinal time, the 20-year-old De Grasse inexplicably drew Lane 9 in the final — not the most conducive to sprinting fast. But, demonstrating incredible poise, he ran a new personal-best time of 9.92 seconds to finish in a dead tie for the bronze medal with his NCAA rival Trayvon Bromell of the U.S.

Bolt, meanwhile, reaffirmed his authority in the event by defeating favoured American Justin Gatlin 9.79 to 9.80.

De Grasse stood at the side of the track with national team coach Peter Eriksson for some time to see if officials would separate him and Bromell. Once the official results showed he was a bronze medallist he set off on a victory lap, stopping to hug his mother, who was trackside.

"I didn't know who had won the race, I didn't know you could actually tie with someone for a bronze medal," said the Markham, Ont., native. "So I am very happy for Trayvon and proud of myself to come away with a personal best. To race against these guys and make the final, I couldn't end the season any better than that.

De Grasse said he was not shaken by the lane or the star-studded competition.

"I can't let [the lane assignment] distract me. At the end of the day it's the 100m final. This was the biggest race of my life so I wasn't going to think about no lane assignment. I had a lot of confidence after the semifinals, being that close to Bolt, and that raised my confidence for the final. My coach told me 'this is your chance to go for a medal. Just go with them. They will take you with them.'"

Now De Grasse must consider the option to turn professional. A bronze medal here is worth $20,000 US, and the USC student would give up his NCAA eligibility should he accept it. Also, his success in the U.S. college system (including the NCAA 100 and 200 titles this year) would make him a major catch for a shoe company.

De Grasse says he will discuss his future with his mother and with his coach, Caryl Smith Gilbert, and decide what is best for his family.

Heptathlon ends well for Theisen-Eaton

Earlier in the evening, Brianne Theisen-Eaton recovered from what she had deemed an "atrocious" first day to capture her second heptathlon world championship silver medal.

Helped by a strong showing in the long jump, where Great Britain's Katarina Johnson-Thompson disastrously fouled on all three of her attempts, Theisen-Eaton headed into the closing 800m leg in second place overall behind Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Theisen-Eaton went out hard, passing 400m in 62 seconds, with only Ennis-Hill on her tail. But with 50 metres to go the Briton went past the tiring Canadian to win the race in 2:10.13 to solidify her victory with 6,669 points.

Theisen-Eaton finished in 2:11.52, good enough for a total of 6,554 points and the silver medal. Latvia's Laura Ikauniece-Admidina took the bronze with 6,516 points.

"I'm happy with how it turned out," said Theisen-Eaton. "[But] if at the beginning someone had said I would get the silver medal, I would have been upset. I went to bed last night in tears trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Waking up this morning I was terrified that I was going to come out in the long jump and give my best effort and it was going to suck.

"I think I totally derailed myself in the high jump. I made it a lot more difficult than it needed to be. I'm going to sit down with my coach and my sport psychologist and figure this out so next year [at the Olympics] we don't have the same problem."

Adding to her torment was a nagging adductor muscle strain, suffered during the javelin competition, that had her in tears and questioning whether she should even compete in the 800. Her husband, Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton, advised her to at least start the race. Wise advice indeed.

Thorne comes up roses in race walk

Few people would have thought Canada would come away with a medal in the men's 20km race walk until 22-year-old Ben Thorne crossed the line in a new Canadian record time of 1:19.57 to claim bronze 

Miguel Angel Lopez of Spain won the race in 1:19:14, with the heavily favoured Chinese walker Zhen Wang taking second in 1:19:29. 

"I wanted to be ambitious and go for a top-eight finish," said Thorne. "I'm completely overwhelmed. I don't know how I did it and the national record is a bonus."

Making the result even sweeter for Thorne was the fact he was left off the Pan Am Games team while his training partners Evan Dunfee and Inaki Gomez went on to finish first and second in that event.

As Dunfee crossed the line in 13th place he immediately pointed to Thorne with a huge smile and gave him a congratulatory hug.

"My relationship with Evan and Inaki is a special one," said Thorne. "They're my training partners and I don't really know what I would do without them. They're the ones who motivate me to get out of bed in the morning to go training."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.