HomeSportDe Grasse confident he can live up to expectations

De Grasse confident he can live up to expectations

Canadian Andre De Grasse heads into the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo with the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders.

He initially announced his arrival on the world stage five years ago, winning three medals at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

De Grasse picked up bronze in the 100 metres, before going one better in the 200m. He also claimed a bronze medal in the 4 x 100m relay.

He subsequently struggled with injuries over the next couple of years, but bounced back to form with two more medals at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

The 26-year-old is amongst the favourites for gold in the major sprint events this summer and believes he can deliver the goods for a demanding Canadian public.

“I think I have done a good job of coping with that [pressure] because I’ve had that experience from 2016,” he told Betway Insider.

“I feel like I have a lot more experience on my side. I know what to expect, whether that’s warming up, going to the call room or going through the rounds.

“It’s kind of a strategy, where you have to conserve energy so that when you get to the finals, you can have a personal best.

“I’m just hoping to keep that in my back pocket and that’s going to help me towards these Games.”

De Grasse’s efforts in Rio ended Canada’s 20-year wait to win a medal in the men’s sprints, with Donovan Bailey the last man to achieve the feat at Atlanta 1996.

Bailey took gold in the 100m and followed up with another in the 4 x 100m relay. His efforts helped restore national pride for Canada following the Ben Johnson scandal eight years earlier.

De Grasse often seeks guidance from Bailey as he strives to replicate his achievements at Olympic level, while ex-Canadian sprinting star Bruny Surin also shares his expertise.

Their knowledge could prove to be invaluable for De Grasse, particularly with regards to handling public expectations.

The Toronto-born athlete understands that Canadian sports fans will expect him to deliver this summer, but he says the pressure only serves to inspire him.

“People say: ‘What does it feel like to have the weight of the country your shoulders?’,” he added.

“It just feels awesome that people would say that because I never realise how many kids and people I inspire back home.

“You never really realise that until you go to an event or show up at a kid’s school and you’re like: ‘Oh, wow, all these people are inspired by my performances and what I’ve done for the country’.

“I know my country put that pressure on me. They always believed that I could do it, people back home.

“I try to go out there, have pride and do my best, and try to just make myself, my family and my country proud. It’s just really amazing to run for a country like Canada.”

De Grasse will begin his bid for Olympic glory when the heats of the 100m get underway on Saturday. The semi-finals and final take place the following day.

He will then be back in action in the 200m on Tuesday, with the heats and semi-finals scheduled to take place that day. The final is on Wednesday.

 

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