De Grasse's youth coach hopes Olympic win inspires young Canadians to pick up sport
Tony Sharpe speaks to reporters in Pickering, Ont., Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, August 4, 2021 4:05PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 4, 2021 4:06PM EDT
Andre De Grasse's youth coach expressed deep pride over the sprinter's Olympic gold-medal win on Wednesday and hoped it would inspire young Canadians to pick up track and field.
The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., won the men's 200 metre final in a Canadian-record time of 19.62 seconds in Tokyo.
Coach Tony Sharpe recruited De Grasse to his club, Speed Academy, in Pickering, Ont., late in his high school years and said it's been exciting to watch his progress.
"I'm extremely proud," Sharpe said in an interview. "To achieve this in basically seven or eight years of international competition, it bodes well for his future and probably the future of sprinting."
De Grasse started in the sport "a little bit late," Sharpe said, but his success has been "incredible."
The coach said he would like to see De Grasse's victory encourage more athletes try track and field, a sport he said only gets a high profile during the Olympics.
"Hopefully it will inspire a lot of younger Canadians to take up the sport," said Sharpe, who won a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympic Games.
De Grasse's win in the 200 metres gave him his first Olympic gold and came 25 years after Donovan Bailey raced to 100-metre gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
De Grasse also captured a bronze medal in the 100 metres on Monday in Tokyo, and picked up a silver and two bronze in 2016 in Rio. He raced to a silver and three bronze over the 2015 and '19 world championships.
With De Grasse's gold on Wednesday, Canada increased its haul in Tokyo to 15 medals (four gold, four silver, seven bronze).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021.