RIO DE JANEIRO—Andre De Grasse proved once again that he can run with the best sprinters in the world.
The Canadian flew to a personal best time of 9.91 seconds to take the bronze medal in the men’s 100-metre sprint last night at the Rio Olympics.
De Grasse beat his bronze-medal time from the 2015 world championships by one-hundredth of a second—trailing only the legendary Usain Bolt and American sprinter Justin Gatlin in a star-studded field.
He out-leaned Yohan Blake at the finish to reach the podium—edging the Jamaican by two-100ths of a second.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now, I can’t complain,” De Grasse said after the race.
“To be able to race against Usain and Gatlin, being a part of the same race as them and being a part of history today in Rio, it was a great feeling for me,” he noted.
“And I just have so much to learn from that race.”
The sprinter from Markham, Ont. kept Canada’s medal streak alive.
Canadian athletes have won at least one medal on every day of competition, and currently sit 11th in the total medal standings with 13 (two gold, two silver, and nine bronze).
He also is the first Canadian male athlete to win hardware in Rio.
Canada’s Olympic women claimed the country’s first 12 medals.
“I’m shaking,” Canadian 1996 Olympic champ Donovan Bailey told CBC Sports’ Scott Russell after the race.
“This is great for track and field in Canada.”
De Grasse’s Olympic debut comes on the heels of a changing of the guard in sprinting.
With Bolt and Gatlin’s futures uncertain, the Canadian’s bronze medal could be a golden opportunity going forward.
“We were just having some fun,” De Grasse said about his post-race encounter with Bolt.
“Me and Usain met back in January, we did a lot of things together,” he noted.
“He feels like I’m the next one, and now I’m just trying to live up to it.
“I feel like I’m capable of doing it,” De Grasse added.
“My next Olympics I’m looking forward to it but as of now, I’m just trying to get ready for my 200 [metre race] and just sink it all in.”
Diver Jennifer Abel came up just short of making it a multi-medal day for the Canadians.
The 24-year-old from Laval, Que. finished fourth in the individual three-metre springboard yesterday—a week after narrowly missing the podium in the synchronized three-metre with partner Pamela Ware.
Abel earned a total of 367.25 for her five dives in the final, 5.5 points back of bronze-medallist Tania Cagnotto of Italy.
China’s Shi Tingmao won gold with 406.05 total points while He Zi, also of China, took silver (387.9).
Despite finishing fourth again, Abel said she felt much better after Saturday’s dives than she did after coming up short in the synchro.
“They’re two completely different sentiments,” she remarked.
“For sure I wanted to bring two medals home and even though it’s disappointing, I can tell myself that I battled until the end,” Abel added.
“This competition will make me so much stronger for the next few years that I’m even excited to start diving again.”
Ware of Greenfield Park, Que., placed seventh in her first Olympic Games.
The 23-year-old finished with 323.15 points.
Boxer Ariane Fortin of St-Nicholas, Que. also will leave Rio disappointed after a tight, split-decision loss to Dariga Shakimova of Kazakhstan.
Fortin had to wait several minutes while the judges tallied the points from the final round.
It’s a crushing blow for Fortin, who considered giving up boxing after losing to Mary Spencer at the Canadian trials for the 2012 London Olympics.
“The most important thing is to be proud of my performance, and that’s what I’m going to hold onto despite the immensity of the disappointment,” Fortin said.
In other news, Karine Thomas and Jocelyn Simoneau sat seventh after the free routine portion of the duet synchronized swimming.
Thomas, from Gatineau, Que., and Simoneau, from Saint-Laurent, Que., scored 90.0667 in the recently cleaned waters of Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre.
The technical routine was scheduled for this morning, with the final tomorrow.
Vancouver’s Shallon Olsen finished eighth in an eight-woman field in the vault final.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont. was five-under 66 to tie for fourth on the day while Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask. was two-under 69 to tie for 23rd on the round in the men’s golf tournament.
DeLaet finished 20th on the final leaderboard while Hearn was tied for 30th.
Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley were eliminated from the Rio Games yesterday after dropping a 2-0 decision to Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst in women’s beach volleyball.
Pavan, from Kitchener, Ont., and Bansley, from Waterdown, Ont., beat Victoria’s Jamie Broder and Toronto’s Kristina Valjas 2-0 in the round of 16.
“If we had lost that game and played our best, that would be one thing,” Pavan said of the loss to Germany, her voice cracking at times.
“But I think we left a lot out there so it’s a little hard to swallow right now.”
In badminton, Michelle Li of Markham, Ont. fell 19-21, 21-15, and 21-17 to India’s Sindhu Pusarla.
Canada’s women’s basketball team lost its final preliminary-round game 73-60 to Spain.
Canada next will face France in the quarter-finals.