De Grasse wins 100 metres at Pan Am Games

He covered that distance in 10.05 seconds and won the Pan Am Games gold medal for it.

Ramon Gittens of Barbados finished in 10.07 for the silver. Antoine Adams of Saint Kitts and Nevis took the bronze with a time of 10.09.

“This is the greatest moment of my life right now,” De Grasse said, afterwards. “I’ve got my first senior medal — and at home — it’s a great feeling. I’m just going to keep it going for the 200 metres and try to bring home another medal, and the relay as well.”

Wednesday’s final wasn’t the record-breaking 100 that spectators hoped after he ran a 9.97 in the semis, the fastest of anyone here. But championship races are often not fast, especially in cool evening weather.

“We’ll just take the W and forget about the time,” Caryl Smith Gilbert, his University of Southern California coach, said.

“I was very pleased in his first big-time international 100m to see him do a great job.”

There’s been so much hype about this 20-year-old from Markham that it’s easy to forget how new he still is to all this.

runnersHe was first spotted at a high school track meet — literally, a stone’s throw away from the stadium where he won his gold medal — just three years ago.

He was wearing basketball shorts and borrowed spikes. He didn’t even use the starting blocks and, still, he ran such a fast time it turned the head of Olympian-turned coachTony Sharpe, who set him on the path that will take him to world championships next month.

“I still remember that race to this day,” De Grasse said, with a grin as he turned to look towards the warm-up track where he first ran.

He may just have walked across the street to win the medal but he’s come a very long way as a sprinter in those three years.

In May, De Grasse became the first Canadian to run a sub-10 second 100 metres since Donovan Bailey in 2000. Earlier this month, he lowered his wind-legal personal best to 9.95 to win the Canadian 100-metre title in Edmonton.

But the international field at Pan Ams wasn’t exactly slow. The Canadian was one of five sprinters with sub-10 second times and, on paper, two of them were faster.

On top of that, De Grasse didn’t reduce his training load to run here, he’s still building for his main event, the world championships next month in Beijing, so he’s running on relatively tired legs.

But being a winning sprinter takes more than just a set of legs. It’s an attitude.

“He’s so laid back and humble but he hates to lose,” his coach said. “It’s almost like he’ll do whatever he has to, to not lose.”

De Grasse’s sub 10-second times — especially his eye-popping, wind-aided 9.75 last month — have drawn public attention back to sprinting in Canada. And it’s all landed squarely on his lanky five-foot-10 frame.

He’s okay with it. He told his coach to stop asking if he was nervous. He wasn’t, he was excited.

He says he’s both enjoying the attention and not letting it get in the way of his big goal: putting Canadian sprinting back on the global map.

That’s somewhere the nation hasn’t been since the 1990s, when Canada’s 4×100 relay team was the one to beat at the Olympics and world championships. Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin were also winning medals in the 100.

“I want to come out and medal at the Pan Am Games, make the final in the world championships and, hopefully, get a medal there. I just want to help Canada get back to where they were in the ’90s,” he said ahead of the Pan Ams.

Wednesday night’s performance took care of the first one and he’s already well on his way to the last one.


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