A late surge from Andre De Grasse catapulted his team into the bronze-medal position in the men’s 4×100-metre relay, capping off a Friday to remember for Canada.
About an hour before, Canada’s Moh Ahmed raced to silver in the 5,000 metre, the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in that distance.
When De Grasse stepped across the finish line, he secured his sixth Olympic medal and stepped into the Canadian record books as this country’s most decorated track and field athlete.
De Grasse, Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney and Jerome Blake finished with a time of 37.70, behind Great Britain (37.51). Italy took the gold with a winning time of 37.50.
“It’s crazy, I’m just really happy. I was telling these guys how proud I am to be part of this team,” De Grasse said. “For these guys to help me win my sixth medal, I’m just so grateful for this and just so proud if them.”
For the 26-year-old De Grasse, it’s been another magical Olympics. This is his third medal of these Games, adding to his bronze medal in the 100 metre and his gold in the 200 metre.
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In Rio, Canada’s fastest man won the bronze medal in the 100, a silver in the 200 and anchored the 4×100 relay team to a bronze medal.
“He just always seems to rise to the right occasion — it’s unique, just such an impressive performance,” said Olympian Dave Moorecroft, CBC’s longtime track analyst.
“It’s become difficult to imagine him running in the Olympics final without coming away with a medal.”
De Grasse ran final leg
Just like in the semifinal, when De Grasse received the baton for the final leg, Canada was buried in fifth place. Not for long. Once again, De Grasse burst down the stretch, passing two other runners, making another desperate dash for a medal.
“He’s a brilliant, brilliant finisher. His final 20 or 30 metres, he decelerates less than anyone else, it actually looks like he is accelerating. It’s a magical gift to have,” said Moorecroft.
There was no clear favourite in this race after the U.S. team missed the final. The Americans had issues with their baton exchanges in the heats, which cost them a spot in Friday’s final.
Canada had a number of exchange issues themselves in the final, almost dropping the baton on two occasions.
“This race is not necessarily about having the four fastest runners, it’s about the baton moving smoothly around the track. It’s a race that is littered with things that can go wrong,” Moorecroft said.
After the race, the Canadian foursome was pleased to be on the podium but wondering what might have been.
“I want more, I want more for all of us,” Blake said. “I don’t want to say we let ourselves down, but we came here to win gold.”
“We know we can do better,” added De Grasse.”There’s more to come in the future.”