De Grasse delivers on prophecy as Bolt's heir apparent: A timeline towards gold

By Sports Desk August 04, 2021

A prophecy was fulfilled at Tokyo 2020 on Wednesday.

With the legendary Usain Bolt bowing out of the Olympics for good after another golden Games at Rio 2016, the desperate hunt for his sprint successor began.

One man stood out among the pack in the form of Canadian star Andre De Grasse, who had pushed Bolt all the way in a thrilling 200 metres final.

Injuries in the intervening years quelled the momentum somewhat but at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, five years on from having the tag of Bolt's heir apparent thrust upon him, De Grasse ultimately lived up to the billing.

Here is his journey from Rio to Tokyo.

PUSHING BOLT TO THE LIMIT

Having already shown his mettle with a pair of bronze medals in the 100m and 4x100m relay at the World Championships a year previously, De Grasse arrived in Rio with a reputation as a rising star. In Brazil, De Grasse had competed well with Bolt in the 100m semi-finals then earned a first Olympic medal with bronze in the final behind the Jamaican legend and Justin Gatlin. In the 200m, there was further cause for excitement with De Grasse clocking the quickest time in the heats. When it came to the semi-final, De Grasse emerged on Bolt's shoulder and the two exchanged smiles in a lasting image of the Games. Though Bolt went on to triumph in the final, he said of silver medallist De Grasse: "He's going to be good. He runs just like me, he's really slow out of the blocks but when he gets going, he gets going."

INJURY WOE IN LONDON

De Grasse had picked up Diamond League wins in Oslo, Stockholm, Rome and Rabat over the 100m and 200m prior to the 2017 World Championships. With a retiring Bolt not running the 200m in London, De Grasse was a strong favourite, while many were hopeful of seeing the popular duo face off in the shorter race one last time before Bolt hung up the spikes. Sadly, De Grasse would not even make it to the English capital due to a pulled hamstring. More hamstring injury problems occurred a year later, which forced De Grasse to miss out on the Commonwealth Games.

 

BOUNCING BACK IN 2019

After a couple of injury-hit years, De Grasse worked himself back into form in 2019 and made the podium in five of seven races over 100m and six of six over 200m before the World Championships that year. In Doha, De Grasse was back on the podium in the shorter sprint behind champion Christian Coleman and silver medallist Gatlin. In the 200, he lost out to Noah Lyles and settled for silver but was philosophical about the result saying: "I'm not disappointed, I didn't think I'd be here a year ago."

PROPHECY FULFILLED

With the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the majority of the 2020 season and postponing the Games by a year, the focus for all athletes turned to 2021. De Grasse enjoyed particular success in the 200 in the build-up to Tokyo, finishing in the top three at three Diamond League meetings including a win in Oslo. At the Games, De Grasse placed third in a wide-open 100m final that was won by surprise package Marcell Jacobs of Italy, before reaching the pinnacle with his triumph in the 200m, where he clocked a Canadian record 19.62s.

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