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For Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, it’s the 200-metre final that still really stings.
It’s been more than eight months since the Olympic Games in Rio, where De Grasse burst into the world’s consciousness
His three medals — a silver and two bronze — is the most won by any Canadian sprinter at a single Olympics.
Still, De Grasse thinks about what might have been and watches the races from Rio often.
“I think about 10 times, especially the 200-metre final. I’ve watched that a lot because that’s the one I felt I could have won,” De Grasse told CBC Sports.
“So I keep watching it to see what I did wrong, what mistakes I made so I can learn for the future.”
The man who beat De Grasse in both the 100 and 200 finals was, of course, Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt.
The two men captivated the world media with their “bromance” — Bolt embracing the up and coming De Grasse in what was one of the biggest stories of the Games.
Bolt only had kind words for the young sprinter.
“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,” Bolt said after beating De Grasse in the 200 final in Rio. “I think he can improve his start, make it better than mine because he is shorter so he will get better on his starts.”
Bolt knows a thing or two. He has been virtually untouchable on the world stage in last decade, winning eight gold medals (a ninth was stripped from him after relay teammate Nesta Carter was found guilty of a doping violation from the 2008 Olympics) and 11 world championships.
De Grasse has never beaten Bolt, who has announced he will retire from competitive sprinting after the world track and field championships this August in London.
“I want to beat him before he retires, so if I could do that it would mean a lot,” the 22-year-old Markham, Ont., runner acknowledged.
Sure De Grasse could seamlessly replace Bolt atop the sprinting world, but actually beating the legend head-to-head is what’s motivating him right now.
He knows the window to beat the best is rapidly closing.
“Usain is one hell of an athlete and in order for me to be considered one of the best I got to beat him. So I have to continue to work hard, stay motivated, stay focused,” De Grasse said. “It’s his last world championships and it’s going to be tough, but I have to try and spoil his parade.”
Donovan Bailey said De Grasse can’t become too focused on Bolt.
“I don’t think people should get caught up in the Andre versus Bolt legend,” said Bailey, who won the 100 gold medal in world-record time at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“It’s not boxing. I always compare track and field to golf. Andre has to stay in his lane, he is the one writing his own journey now. I don’t see it as an Andre versus Usain thing. You can’t really have a rivalry if you haven’t beaten someone.”
Bailey said De Grasse has too many good things ahead and shouldn’t define his success based on whether he can beat one of the greatest ever.
“Andre can’t hide right now, he’s not going surprise anyone. I am looking forward to a great year from Andre,” Bailey said. “He’s going to continue to establish himself as one of the best in the world. And Usain will do what he always does. He wants to leave a great impression when he walks off the stage in London.
Still, for De Grasse the title of world’s fastest man is tantalizing. He knows it belongs to Bolt until he can take it away.
“It would mean everything to me. I have been working so hard for it,” De Grasse said. “For me to be able to call myself the fastest man in the world, it would be a blessing. I don’t even know how I would be able to handle it if it did happen. But I am definitely looking forward to that day.”
And although Bolt and De Grasse haven`t met on the track since Rio, both are sponsored by Puma, and are in touch periodically.
“I spoke to him a couple of months ago,” De Grasse said. “We were in Germany shooting something together for Puma. He just said congratulation to me again. Congratulations on the Olympics, all of my new successes. He was just basically telling me to stay focused and told me that lot of things are going to change in my life.”
De Grasse, however, said Bolt offered no advice on how to beat him.