With a 200-metre gold to complement his title in the 100m two nights earlier, Andre De Grasse became the undisputed sprint king of the Pan Am Games on Friday night.
Facing fatigue, and a field of world-class sprinters – including three sub-20 second performers – De Grasse ran 19.88 to win the title, bettering his own Canadian record of 20.03 achieved earlier this year.
De Grasse ran the race from the outside, assigned the eighth lane after a semifinal time of 20.12 on Thursday – the sixth fastest into the final. The Canadian showed visible signs of exhaustion, still recovering from a long evening less than 24 hours earlier when he won 100m gold in 10.05 to take his first major international athletics podium.
“I felt ready,” De Grasse said of his outlook on Friday. “(Thursday) night all I needed was some rest. Once I got the rest, and I woke up this morning, I felt great.”
In the semifinal prior to his own, De Grasse watched Jamaica’s Rasheed Dwyer set the Pan Am Games record running 19.80. The final also included Alonso Edward of Panama, the 2009 IAAF World Championships silver medallist. Unable to repeat his semifinal standard, Dwyer took the silver medal from lane four on Friday, while Alonso was given bronze in a photo finish with both men crossing at 19.90 behind the Canadian.
The last man to complete the Pan Am 100m/200m double was Robson Caetano da Silva of Brazil at Havana 1991.
“It’s amazing. It feels so unreal right now,” De Grasse said of his sprint sweep. “I can’t believe I did it. Somehow I just managed to pull it off. I’m really happy about this.”
There will be a little more rest for the country’s top sprinter after his 200m win, as De Grasse is not one of the four Canadians selected to compete in the 4x100m relay semifinals. The goal for Canada will be to make Saturday’s final before inserting De Grasse into the mix to compete for a medal against the likes of powerhouse Jamaica, United States, and the perpetually strong Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.
After the 200m semifinals on Thursday, when he was overtaxed from a multi-event calendar and breathing hard, De Grasse admitted he was “pretty tired” but made a promise. “I’m going to get them back by tomorrow for the finals, so I’ll be ready.”
Yes, he was ready.