TOKYO — Canada’s Andre De Grasse won the bronze medal in the men’s 100-metre at Tokyo 2020, a repeat of his performance in the same race in Rio 2016.
De Grasse finished in a personal best time of 9.98. Italian Marcelll Jacobs won the gold in 9.80, and Fred Kerley of the United States won silver in 9.84.
De Grasse, 26, of Markham, Ont., was the fastest qualifier in Saturday’s 100-metre heats, with a 9.91 that was one-hundredth of a second off his personal best.
The semi-finals on Sunday night did not go nearly as well for De Grasse. He didn’t have his best start in what was the first of three semis, but gained ground to finish second at 9.98 and automatically qualify for the final. That was still a strong time through the second semi-final, but the third was blazing fast, with four runners going 9.90 or faster, led by China’s Su Bingtian at 9.83, followed by American Ronnie Baker just two thousandths of a second behind. The rush of fast times meant De Grasse was in the outside lane for the final, far from an ideal starting position. His result was not the only surprise of the semi-finals: American Trayvon Bromell, who had run the fastest time of the season so far at 9.77, clocked a 10.00 and was shut out of the final. Yohan Blake, the Jamaican who was the silver medallist at London 2012 and is a former world champion, also did not progress to the final.
De Grasse said in a June interview with Postmedia that getting in the right lane for the final would be a crucial part of the competition. The semi-finals, he said, “are kind of the hardest part of the whole thing, I feel like, because everybody’s going to be treating it as a finals and making sure that they get through.” His semi-final race was restarted after Great Britain’s Reece Prescod was disqualified for a false start. There was then a delay of more than seven minutes to fix what was described in the stadium as a malfunction with the timing system. The runners waited on the track while the problem was addressed.
De Grasse became a world-class sprint star at Rio 2016, where he was the first Canadian to ever win medals in all three sprint events at an Olympics. He won bronze in the 100-metre, silver in the 200-metre, and anchored the 4×100 relay team to a bronze in a Canadian record time.
De Grasse was also a Rio favourite for his evident friendship with Usain Bolt, the sprint legend, with the pair sharing smiles as they cruised toward the finish line.
The Canadian took that form into 2017, winning four Diamond League titles, but a hamstring injury just before the World Championships that year derailed his season. His absence from the sport continued through much of 2018, with another leg injury and a bout with mononucleosis.
De Grasse returned to the track to win a bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships in Qatar, and a silver in the 200-metre at the same event.