Apparently, despite the fact that he is eight feet tall, this was a great shock to him.
First, the Italian – Gianmarco Tamberi – ran over to his co-gold medalist and jumped into his arms.
Then he dropped to the ground, rolled from side to side as if he was on fire and cried. Then he got hold of an Italian flag and staggered around for a while, crying and hugging anyone who got within three metres of him. Then he fell down on the ground again, followed by more staggering around, followed by more rolling and crying on the ground.
When they were trying to get De Grasse & Co. into the blocks, Tamberi was still just up the way stretched out on the tarmac as if he’d been shot. Someone finally fetched him off the ground so the night’s headliners could take the stage.
I guess they didn’t get him very far, because when Italian sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the 100, Tamberi was still out on the track. Then the hugging and staggering started all over again.
It’s ridiculous, but you can’t get upset. You know what they say about men and the Olympics – they may be a bit too emotional to handle this sort of thing. Poor dears. They do try their best. So you have to be kind.
Celebrating Italians aside, this has not been a great Games for men.
Is someone somewhere doing something stupid? Yes, that is 100 per cent a man. You don’t need to tell me. I already know.
A few days ago, a couple of Georgian competitors wandered out of the Olympic athletes village to go “sightseeing.” They claimed they didn’t know they weren’t allowed out. Because I guess the internet’s been down in their houses since March, 2020.
What were they? Absolutely right – men.
The British rowing team is blowing up, and not like your phone. More like the Lusitania. Most spectacularly, one British boat got so carried away in a finals it veered off course and nearly sank a competitor’s watercraft.
Like so many other things, the Britons used to be good at rowing. But they aren’t any more. It’s just another corner of the empire the sun is now constantly setting on.
Instead of taking the literal “L,” this rowing nonsense has turned into an ugly public row over a fired coach, a TV commentator who was mean, and a bunch of rowers who aren’t dealing particularly well with the ups and downs of real life. You’re getting the hang of this now – all men.
Anti-vax American? Man. Rail-humping Australian coach? Man. Every single person who refuses to even put on a mask in the press box? Man. Guy I saw yelling at a quivering volunteer because he couldn’t have a taxi right now? Man’s man.
In Canada, this problem is manifesting itself as performance anxiety. Canadian men can’t get up on the podium.
This happens a lot at the Olympics these days. Almost every time we do this, the weather’s nice outside.
Let’s be clear – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some nights, Canada just doesn’t have it. Some mornings, too. They keep telling us they just have to relax and stop worrying about it and good things will happen.
But then you see how the Italian men do it and, as a Canadian, you start to feel self-conscious. They’re so free, so at ease with their bodies.
After eight days in at the Tokyo Games, De Grasse finally let the entire gender in Canada off the hook with his bronze. If you’re keeping score, the medals are now 13-1 for Canada’s women.
Things were bad enough at the Rio Games in 2016 that this was a big story. The coverage started out good-natured, veered briefly into gleeful and by the end had pulled back to sociological.
People have stopped joking about it now because it’s no longer an aberration. It’s a pattern, and it’s getting worse.
The ratio in Rio, women’s medals to men’s, was 16-to-6. Today, it’s 13-to-1.
If De Grasse had turned an ankle on Sunday night, there is a very real chance the men would end up getting blanked in Tokyo. Then, because we’re Canadians, we have to do a government inquiry into men being left behind, and somehow this results in me being forced to sit on a Bosu ball when I go to the office. No thank you.
De Grasse is the thin red-and-white line standing between Canadian men and humiliation.
If he’s feeling the pressure of that, he isn’t showing it. Actually, like most men, De Grasse doesn’t notice much.
He didn’t see the guy blowing a tire in the lane next to him during the 100-m final: “I didn’t even notice that.”
He has no clue about the guy who won the race: “Yeah, I don’t know.”
And he is blissfully unaware that he may be the only man in Canada who is good at the Olympics: “I didn’t even realize that. That’s awesome. That’s cool.”
No, it’s not. It’s uncool and non-awesome. It’s depressing and something must be done about it. What if a generation of middle-aged men stop believing that, if they really wanted to, they could still qualify for the Olympics? What would we do then?
Not in sprinting, obviously. We’re men, which means we’re weak and unco-ordinated. It doesn’t mean we’re delusional. Not sprinting. Maybe the javelin. How hard can that be? (Ed. Note: Incredibly hard).
If men can’t win at the Olympics, what else can’t they win at? And if men stop believing they should be the ones who get to hog up all the attention all of the time, then how are they ever going to fill up a corporate board anywhere, ever again? This stuff seems small, but it has terrible consequences. For men.
So thank God (the one with the beard) for Andre De Grasse. Men don’t always have it easy. So when one of us succeeds, it’s important the rest of us stand up and acknowledge that we could probably also do what he just did, if we cared, but we’re busy, so we don’t.
Sign up for The Globe’s Olympic newsletter and w all of the news, features and opinion in the leadup to the Summer Games in Tokyo.