For a second successive Olympics, Andre De Grasse is taking home a medal from every event he entered.
The star sprinter earned his third medal in Tokyo on Friday night when he raced the anchor leg for Canada’s 4x100-metre relay team, and made up some staggering ground to propel Canada to bronze. That’s Olympic medal No. 6 for his collection.
The Canadian team, with Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney, finished in 37.70 seconds and matched it’s third-place showing at the 2016 Olympics.
But the Canadians weren’t thrilled with their performance, saying if not for some mistakes with their baton handoffs, they could have been champs.
“The boys and myself we wanted more, you know, we thought we had a chance to win gold but I’m super grateful and thankful to get on the podium again for the sixth time,” De Grasse said.
“I feel like we could break the national record; we have three other fast guys here. I think our team is actually better than it was in 2016. So, yeah, we’re just going to continue to get better and clean up some errors.”
Instead, Italy took gold in 37.50, continuing its surprising success on the Tokyo track. In a fight at the finish line the Italians inched out Britain, which won silver in 37.51.
For De Grasse, Friday’s was his eighth race in seven days on the Tokyo track. The 26-year-old with the gold racing glasses also earned bronze in the 100 metres and gold in the 200 metres – which he ran in a Canadian record time of 19.62 seconds. He was the first to win the men’s Olympic 200 sprint for Canada since Percy Williams way back in 1928.
When asked about the significance of De Grasse never failing to make the podium in an Olympic event, Brown called him the “GOAT.” With De Grasse squirming a little from his teammate and friend heaping on the Greatest Of All Time praise, the third-time Olympian who had also been part of the bronze-medal team in 2016 kept right on going, making them all laugh by referencing a Drake song.
“He deserves his flowers, man. He shows up at every championship, no matter how he’s doing during the season. You know Andre De Grasse is going to show up and come get medals,” Brown said. “Six for six, like Drake says he’s the 6 God.”
The four men didn’t get much time to practise together as a relay team. Athletics Canada held a camp in Baton Rouge, La., in late spring, but only Brown and Blake trained there. De Grasse, expecting a baby at the time, stayed home so he wouldn’t miss the birth. Rodney contracted COVID-19 at the camp and could not practise.
“So this is great for the little bit of practice that we had,” Rodney said.
It was a breezy night inside Tokyo Olympic Stadium. The 28 C temperature was less stifling than most nights have been during these Games inside the 68,000-seat venue.
Brown began the race for Canada in Lane 4, then came Blake, then Rodney. That was different for Brown, who has typically run second or anchor for Canadian teams.
When De Grasse took the baton to run his anchor leg, Canada was fifth. He flew past the Chinese and Jamaican runners to the finish, bumping them off the podium. The Italians and Brits were too far ahead to catch.
“We try to give him the best position for him to do work on anchor leg every time and, you know, in the future we’re going to put him in a better position and then hopefully go for the gold,” Brown said. “Even though we’re disappointed with coming third it bodes really well for the future next year and then Paris in 2024, as long as we continue to work on our cohesion.”
The Canadian men didn’t celebrate much initially at the finish line. They huddled and looked up at the scoreboard for a while. Eventually, they wrapped themselves in Canadian flags and started to smile a little.
That closes the Olympics for De Grasse, who says he plans to attend the closing ceremonies.
“This is amazing, my sixth medal. I’m just super happy,” De Grasse said. “Three for three in Rio, three for three here. … I’ll just keep getting better every day and look forward Paris in a couple years and try to do it again.”
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