Celebrity sprinter

De Grasse captures sec­ond ti­tle at Cana­dian cham­pi­onships

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY LORI EWING

Long af­ter Andre De Grasse had raced to his sec­ond vic­tory at the Cana­dian track and field cham­pi­onships, the sprint star was still pos­ing for pic­tures and sign­ing au­to­graphs.

“I signed some­one’s hand. Some­one’s neck,” De Grasse laughed. “That was kind of weird when I signed some­one’s neck.”

The triple medal­list from last sum­mer’s Rio Olympics raced to his first Cana­dian 200-me­tre ti­tle on Sun­day, and sec­ond gold medal of the meet, sprint­ing to a slightly wind-aided time of 19.96 sec­onds. De Grasse won his third na­tional 100 ti­tle on Fri­day.

The 22-year-old from Markham, Ont., was the head­liner this week, and his star power was vis­i­ble in the crowds that squeezed into the 6,500-seat Terry Fox Sta­dium. Ac­cord­ing to an Ath­let­ics Canada of­fi­cial, it was the big­gest crowd the na­tional meet has ever seen.

“I’m amazed and shocked that so many peo­ple want my au­to­graph,” said De Grasse, es­ti­mat­ing the num­ber to be “prob­a­bly hun­dreds, maybe thou­sands.”

“It’s a cool feel­ing for me, I’m just happy to see all the lit­tle kids’ faces light up ev­ery time I take a pic­ture with them.”

De Grasse had some-60 friends and fam­ily mem­bers — all dressed in red De Grasse T-shirts — in at­ten­dance. They posed for a group photo. The pho­tog­ra­pher in­structed them to “Say ‘De Grasse!’”

Sun­day’s 200 was one of the meet’s high­lights, fea­tur­ing Canada’s three fastest sprint­ers in his­tory in that dis­tance — De Grasse, and Toronto’s Aaron Brown and Bren­don Rod­ney.

Rod­ney was sec­ond in 20.02, while Brown crossed third in 20.13. De Grasse was pushed by the two around the bend, fi­nally tak­ing the lead down the straight­away.

CP PHOTO

Andre De Grasse re­acts af­ter win­ning gold in the men’s 200-me­tre race at the Cana­dian Track and Field Cham­pi­onships in Ot­tawa on Sun­day.

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