Before this year, there’s a good chance many Canadians hadn’t heard of a young sprinter from Markham, Ont. named Andre De Grasse.
Having only started sprinting three years ago, De Grasse was still relatively new to the track and field scene. But when he won the 100m and 200m at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore. his name — which by the way is pronounced de-grass, not like the beloved Canadian melodrama — started to garner some buzz.
In 2012, Canadian Olympic medalist and sprinting coach Tony Sharpe discovered De Grasse during a high school track and field meet in Toronto. From there, Sharpe took him under his wing and DeGrasse eventually found himself with a scholarship to the University of Southern California.
With the ability to run a sub-10 time in the 100m, De Grasse was pegged as the future of Canadian sprinting, following in the footsteps of Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey. He was also the best bet to break the 19-year-old Canadian 100m record of 9.84 seconds.
“Right day, right time. Goodbye Donovan Bailey. Goodbye Bruny Surin,” Sharpe said earlier this year, when asked whether the record was in danger of falling.
In July, in front of his friends and family, De Grasse won double gold (100m and 200m) at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. But the real test came in August, at the world championships, against the best in the world.
Lining up alongside top sprinters, including world-record holder Usain Bolt, the 20-year-old Canadian burst out of the starting blocks and crossed the finish line in a time of 9.92, good enough to tie for the bronze medal with American Trayvon Bromell. Bolt and USA’s Justin Gatlin finished 1-2.
De Grasse’s bronze marked the first time a Canadian medalled in the signature event at the world championships since Surin nabbed silver in 1999.
“The future looks bright,” De Grasse told the Canadian Press following his race. “Next year I can’t wait to see what kind of training I’m going to do, and I can only get stronger from here. It’s only my third year in track and to be on the podium with these guys, it’s incredible right now.”
Get used to name Andre De Grasse — there’s a good chance Canadians will be hearing it for years to come.