ROME, Italy, Jun 9 – Canadian sprint sensation Andre De Grasse will continue to look up to Usain Bolt, but, respectfully, can’t wait for the Jamaican legend to retire from athletics.
While eight-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt makes his season debut at the Czech Golden Spike event in Ostrava later this month — before retiring from the sport following the London world championships in August — De Grasse is among the athletes looking to step into the vacuum left by his departure.
And to help win sprint medals across the board, he is considering competing in both sprints at the world championships, as well as the relay.
“It is very exciting for me to be part of the young generation that comes after Usain Bolt,” said De Grasse after a 200 metres victory in the Rome leg of the Diamond League on Thursday that saw him finish in 20.01sec, over two-tenths ahead of France’s Christophe Lemaitre (20.29) and American Ameer Webb (20.33).
It was race he called “great”, but De Grasse is looking for excellence.
De Grasse made history in Rio last year when he became the first Canadian sprinter to win three medals at a single Olympics — silver in the 200m, behind Bolt, and bronze from the 100m and 4x100m relay.
The younger and comparatively much shorter De Grasse impressed the Jamaican so much he said: “He’s going to be good, he runs just like me, I mean he’s really slow at the blocks but when he gets going, he gets going.”
At London, De Grasse will hope to impress Bolt again.
The Canadian added: “For the London world championships I am thinking about both events, the 100m and 200m. My aim is to get three medals, like in Rio, definitely.
“We have a strong relay team, and I also hope to win a final in London.”
Born to parents hailing from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, it is no surprise that Bolt provides inspiration.
But while there is plenty of respect for the Jamaican legend’s achievements, De Grasse wants a piece of the pie Bolt has been hogging for so long.
“As far as Usain Bolt is concerned, I also want to start to be great. Bolt is a big target for me,” he added.
“I want to do my best. I want to stay competitive. It’s always an honour to compete against Bolt.”