Toronto Star

Canada’s De Grasse has arrived on world stage


The Pan Am Games have been filled with stories of athletic excellence and serve as an introducti­on to some of Canada’s top performers for casual fans.

The sense of anticipati­on is palpable when Canada’s newest sprint sensation settles into the blocks and a wondrous sojourn through the Pan Am Games made Andre De Grasse one of its brightest stars.

Over a period of three days, the 20year-old from Markham cemented himself as someone Canadians need to pay close attention to in the coming years.

Starting with the world championsh­ips in Beijing next month and in the months leading up the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 20-year-old will be challengin­g the greats in his sport.

De Grasse looked a bit weary getting through the 100 metres and the heats and semifinal of the 200 metres but, as the greats do, he popped a big one when it counted most, setting a Canadian record of19.88 in the final — the first time any Canadian has ever gone under 20 seconds.

It’s made him something of a household name. And people know how to pronounce it.

“A lot of people before this, they didn’t know how to pronounce my name,” he said after the 200 metre win. “They used to say De Grasseeee. But now I think everybody knows that my name is De Grasse. It’s really good to know people know my name and I’m making an impact on them in the track and field world.’’

The lone blip on De Grasse’s Games was the Canadian sprint relay team being disqualifi­ed after seemingly winning the gold medal on Saturday night. It was a bitter disappoint­ment and kept De Grasse from joining gymnast Ellie Black and cyclist Monique Sullivan as Canada’s triple gold medallists.

De Grasse, who burst onto the scene by winning the 100 and 200 double at the NCAA championsh­ips earlier this season, is trying to put Canada back on the global sprint scene. No Canadian has made it to the final of an Olympics or world championsh­ip since Bruny Surin in 1999. Others in this series included gymnast Ellie Black, basketball­er Kia Nurse, swimmer Emily Overholt and cyclist Hugo Barrette.

 ?? LUCAS OLENIUK/TORONTO STAR ?? Sprinter Andre De Grasse had plenty to smile about at Pan Ams.
LUCAS OLENIUK/TORONTO STAR Sprinter Andre De Grasse had plenty to smile about at Pan Ams.

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