Andre De Grasse taking on Usain Bolt
The Tokyo Olympics are finally underway. The 2020 games saw a 12-month delay like many great sporting events, but are now taking place, albeit with the lack of a crowd. The last games took place back in 2016 and it was here, in Rio, that De Grasse created a name for himself. The then 21-year-old, seemingly appeared out of nowhere to go head-to-head with the fastest man on the planet. While De Grasse couldn’t quite outrun Usain Bolt, he still had himself a fantastic first Olympic games.
De Grasse went home from Rio with a silver and two bronze medals to his name. Not bad for a first Olympic games. What may be remembered more than those medals is the showdown with Bolt with what became a great moment in sporting history.
The 2016 showdown
While Olympic events are usually all about the final, it was the semis of the 200m in 2016 that became the talking point. De Grasse had performed well throughout the stages and come the semi-final he was set to go all out. The hope had been a place in the final where he would face Usain Bolt. What he hadn’t banked on was meeting Bolt a race earlier and having to compete against him for his place in the final. Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse told Betway Insider “We didn’t expect to see Usain in the semi-finals. My coach had a strategy: ‘You’re going to have to make him run. We’ve got to make him work, we can’t make it too easy for him.’ He adds: “I ran a good, hard 150m, I looked to my side, and I was like: ‘OK, he’s starting to slow down, and I’m close to him. That was really just me going out there having fun, and just trying to do my best.”
De Grasse had already run a hard race for the first 150m and with 50m to go, unsurprisingly, Bolt was set for the win. Bolt felt that he had done all that he needed and his place in the final was already in the bag. Taking his foot off the gas, Bolt didn’t quite expect to see a 21-year-old De Grasse hot on his heels. The race went down to the wire with the newcomer and the legend crossing the finish line at the same time.
The Bolt effect
It didn’t matter De Grasse didn’t go on to take gold in Rio. What will always be remembered is that performance against Bolt. What sums up that head-to-head has to be the cheeky grin that each athlete gave the other. For De Grasse, this was a wow moment. The grin from Bolt was a sign of respect for what De Grasse had just achieved.
Coming so close to Bolt means that De Grasse is now seen as a gold medal winner of the future. To come so close to the fastest man on the planet means that De Grasse is destined for great things.
The next contest
Usain Bolt has gone down in history as one of the most successful athletes of all time. He is still also the fastest man in the world. For De Grasse, there will be no more opportunities to beat Bolt over the finish line. With Bolt’s retirement, the sport has lost a legend and robbed De Grasse of the chance to beat a legend.
Going forward, of course, De Grasse needs to be taking gold medals at the Olympics, but when it comes to Bolt, there is still another race going on. There can still be a race against the clock. Bolt’s record is there for the taking and De Grasse is certainly up for the challenge.