‘Fastest Canadian ever’: Andre De Grasse sets golden goals after speedy finish to tough season


Andre De Grasse believes the best is still ahead for him.

“I definitely want to be the fastest Canadian ever. So, I have it in 200 [19.62 seconds]. I want to break the national record of Donovan [Bailey] and Bruny [Surin] of 9.84 [in the 100]. I’m so close to that. And that’s something that I’m chasing every day,” said De Grasse, who’s best-ever time is 9.89.

The six-time Olympic medallist and 200-metre champion struggled through much of the 2023 season, leaving the world championships without hardware for the first time ever while failing to even qualify to compete in the 100.

But he strung together his best two 200 times to end his campaign, won the Diamond League Final, and is suddenly feeling confident again, especially after running his season-best time of 19.76. 

Soon, training will ramp back up as De Grasse seeks to add to his Olympic medal count at the Paris Games next summer.

“I know my goals. I want to win three Olympic gold medals. … So I know in the relay that’s possible. 200, that’s possible. And now just getting my start back and getting fast again, it’s gonna be possible in 100,” De Grasse, whose book Ignite: Unlock the Hidden Potential comes out in October, said in an interview with CBC Sports’ Athletics North.

WATCH | De Grasse joins CBC Sports’ Athletics North:

Andre De Grasse hopes to IGNITE others with new book | Athletics North

Olympic and World champion Andre De Grasse joins Athletics North to recap his season, share his upcoming goals (3 more Olympic gold medals) and promote his new book.

Controversial decision

Indeed, De Grasse is the reigning Olympic 200 champion. He’s won consecutive bronze medals in the 100. And the Canadian 4×100 relay team improved from bronze at Rio 2016 to silver at Tokyo 2020.

It’s that final event, in which the Canadians entered the 2023 world championships as defending gold medallists, that produced some controversy for the 29-year-old Markham, Ont., native.

With the semifinals scheduled within hours of the 200 final in Budapest in August, De Grasse chose to sit out the former in favour of the latter, where he placed sixth. The remaining members of the team — Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, Jerome Blake and Bolade Ajomale — failed to reach the final.

Ajomale, De Grasse’s ostensible replacement, badly faded in the anchor leg.

“Do I have a little regret with it? I don’t know, because at the end of the day, I put my trust in them. I believed in them. I believed in our coach, Glenroy Gilbert. So I felt like they could have got the job done. It just wasn’t our day,” De Grasse said.

De Grasse will face a similar, though less gruelling, decision in Paris, when the relay heats take place on a Thursday morning while the 200 final goes that night.

He added that the five-team members talked out his decision at worlds over lunch the following day and committed to bringing their “A game” to the Olympics.

“Everyone’s going to be ready. We’re all going to train hard this upcoming season and we’ll be ready to go.”

WATCH | De Grasse races to Diamond League title:

Andre De Grasse headlines Canadian success at Diamond League Final | Athletics North

A season’s-best time as Andre De Grasse becomes the first Canadian Diamond League Final champion since 2011. That and more Canadian success from the Final on this episode of Athletics North.

‘I can still do this’

Throughout his trying season, De Grasse was open about not quite having his top-end speed as he struggled with injury.

He admitted to Athletics North that some doubts about his ability did begin to creep into his mind — making that Diamond League Final victory all the more important.

“That definitely gives me a lot of confidence to say, ‘OK, I’m still there. I can still do this. I’m not getting old. I’m not getting washed up,'” he said. “I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’m starting to get the rhythm, get the speed back. I’m like, ‘OK, now let’s get into the off-season.'”

Despite those lingering thoughts, don’t expect Paris to be some sort of swan song for De Grasse — he said he wants to still be competing at Los Angeles 2028.

But he also may be thinking about what comes after. He said he’s currently involved in a venture fund and may dip his toes into acting or even look at becoming an agent.

And, of course, he is now a published author too.

“I have a daughter at home and I was reading to her and it was during the pandemic and I was like, you know, I have a good story. Let’s write a book. So I had a good time writing that and I said, let’s take it to the next level and try to give people some tips of how I’ve navigated my career, my whole journey,” he said.

But in the course of writing, De Grasse said he taught himself something as well.

“It’s crazy because as a runner, you’re just so focused on running and you don’t even realize that, hey, there’s actually lessons that I’ve actually learned that I didn’t even realize, like setting my goals and writing them down and just thinking about all my support system,” he said.

For the next year, De Grasse’s goals will glimmer like gold.

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