Olympic star ‘pretty special’
Norfolk’s Henriques meets De Grasse at training session
Norfolk’s Daunte Henriques got to meet a hero on Monday night when Olympian Andre De Grasse showed up to train with the Hamilton Olympic Club.
De Grasse took time to sign autographs and answer questions from the country’s future track stars at the campus of McMaster University.
“I look forward to practice — sometimes not so much, other times more – it really depends on the day and how I’m feeling,” said Henriques, 16, who has been a part of Hamilton club for the page few years.
But Monday’s training session was special, he said.
“It was something new and obviously really exciting to meet somebody at that level and talk to him about what he wants to do and how his training is going.”
Henriques is coming off helping the the Hamilton club take silver in the youth division 4x100m relay at the 2017 National Legion Track and Field Championships in Manitoba, while De Grasse was thrust into the spotlight while winning a silver (200m) and bronze (100m) at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Some of the other athletes met him at the national meet a couple months ago but others that hadn’t,” said Henriques, a Delhi District Secondary School student.
“It was exciting and pretty special to them because they’re meet- ing an Olympic athlete.”
Henriques said he was surprised by the stature of the 22-year-old De Grasse, who many expect to take over the title of “fastest man in the world” in the wake of Usain Bolt’s retirement earlier this year. He stands 5-foot-9.
“I thought he was a little bit taller,” Henriques explained.
“His warmup kind of surprised me (too), I thought it would be more than what it was but I mean, it works for him. You find what works for you and you do what works for you.”
Henriques already owns a decorated resume, including two straight appearances at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association championships. Meeting De Grasse is motivating Henriques to get faster.
“Now that I’ve met him it makes me want to push my hardest so I can be at that level where I’ll be able to race against him and do my best,” he said.
Henriques got De Grasse to sign his running spikes in hopes of shaving a few seconds off his fastest times.
“I dunno, I mean, I’ve got an Olympic runner’s signature on them, maybe it will,” he said. “You never know.”
De Grasse appeared to have as much fun at the training session as club members did.
Afterwards, he took to Twitter to thank the organization for its hospitality.
“Great workout with the @ HamOlympicClub last night,” he wrote. “Keep working hard everyone!”
Vanessa native Daunte Henriques (right), poses for a photo with Canadian Olympian Andre De Grasse (centre and fellow Hamilton Olympic Club sprinter Randy Tshikuna. De Grasse attended the organization's training session on Monday night.