Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Beverley De Grasse, the mother of Olympic 200-metre gold medallist Andre De Grasse, and De Grasse’s youth coach, Tony Sharpe, speak to reporters at Beverley's home in Pickering, Ont., on Aug. 4, 2021.

Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

A few hours after her partner, Andre De Grasse, blazed past his fellow sprinters to take gold in the men’s 200-metre final at the Tokyo Olympics, Nia Ali declared that his win would finally put an end to the good-natured ribbing he’d been getting ever since she won a gold medal in the 100-metre hurdles at the 2019 world championships.

“It was an ongoing joke that I was the only gold medalist in the household, so he had to catch up,” the American hurdler said in an interview. “So, a lot of his friends and family would always joke about that and ask, ‘When’s he going to catch up?’ [and tell Andre] ‘You know you’ve got to go get a gold!’

“So I think it’s just funny now that he actually went out there and did it, and it’s, like – ah, the feat is complete! It’s double gold! ‘You guys are on an even playing field!’ ”

Story continues below advertisement

Opinion: Andre De Grasse stamps his name on sprinting history with 200-metre gold at Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Damian Warner breaks Olympic decathlon record in hurdles, maintains first place standing

Still, Ms. Ali said, the fact that her victory wasn’t in an Olympic competition inspires her now to “get back on the horse” after taking some time away from sport to have another child with Mr. De Grasse, a son born in May.

“That just pushes me even more to say, hey, I’m not done yet,” Ms. Ali said. “We really inspire each other to just be our best selves.”

On Wednesday, Mr. De Grasse finally became his own best self, notching a personal best – and a Canadian record time – of 19.62 seconds. It was the manifestation of what had been foretold ever since the famous day he was discovered in 2012. He had tagged along with a friend to a high-school track meet and, running the 100-m sprint in borrowed shoes, snagged the attention of Tony Sharpe, a former bronze-medal Olympic sprinter who founded Speed Academy, a training facility in Pickering, Ont.

Mr. Sharpe had given Mr. De Grasse his business card. Two days later, the aspiring sprinter showed up at Speed Academy with his mother, Beverley.

Four years later, Mr. De Grasse won a pair of bronzes at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as a silver medal in the 200-m with a time of 20.02 seconds, second only to Usain Bolt, who finished in 19.78 seconds.

Asked by reporters what he had first seen in Mr. De Grasse, Mr. Sharpe said on Wednesday: “It’s just a God-given gift that he was born with. I’ve been in the game a long time, and what Andre was able to accomplish in the first year of formal coaching, it just doesn’t happen.”

Andre De Grasse has won his first Olympic gold medal by a fraction of a second in the 200m. See moments from his sprint captured by photographers around the running track at the Tokyo Olympics The Globe and Mail

Still, he said, it was Mr. De Grasse’s work ethic and character that made the difference over the subsequent nine years of toil.

Story continues below advertisement

“I call track and field ‘the boot camp’ of all sports. I mean, why are you running around, running around, dropping to the ground, vomiting and puking and coming back and doing it again tomorrow? That’s not a lot of fun, you know? So you have to have that certain character in you to see the big, longer objective.”

Mr. Sharpe spoke at a news conference held outside the Pickering home of Beverley De Grasse, who told reporters she was still having trouble believing her son’s feat.

“I feel like I’m on a high and I don’t know how to come down,” she said. “You know, even though I was expecting it, it was just still so surreal to really witness it. Wow.” After the race, she said, she and her son had a brief video call in which he told her, beaming: “I finally did it, Mom!”

Five years ago, Beverley was the first person in the stands whom Andre hugged after his race with Mr. Bolt, and on Wednesday she acknowledged it had been difficult to watch the Games on TV, from thousands of miles away, especially knowing COVID was nibbling at the edges of the Olympic Village.

“He’s used to having us there,” she said.

Still, nothing could wipe the smile off of her face. When Mr. De Grasse returns after the Games, she promised, “We’re gonna throw a big party with all the family and friends.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies