Andre De Grasse, the perpetual bridesmaid, finally achieved Olympic gold in the 200m final today in Tokyo, in a second national record of 19.62 seconds, breaking the personal best he set five years ago in Rio. It’s the first time Canada has won gold in this event since Percy Williams did it 93 years ago, in Amsterdam in 1928, and De Grasse’s time was faster than Usain Bolt’s gold-medal performance in Rio (he ran 19.79). But it was never a foregone conclusion – the world champion, Noah Lyles, was strong throughout, but ended up having to settle for bronze, as both De Grasse and Kenny Bednarek pulled ahead of him, Bednarek equalling his season’s best in a new PB 19.68 for silver. The top five all ran under 20 seconds. Canada’s Aaron Brown finished sixth, with a time of 20.20 in his first Olympic final.
"Did you see me?"
— Athletics Canada (@AthleticsCanada) August 4, 2021
Seventeen-year-old Erriyon Knighton of Team USA was fourth in his Olympic debut, meaning the top four were all North Americans. Joseph Fahnbulleh, who lives and trains in the U.S. but races for Liberia, set a national record for fifth place, in 19.98.
In a heartwarming moment after the race, De Grasse’s family back home appeared on the Tokyo Moment camera, and he spoke directly to them, saying, “Finally, oh my God, I have been waiting so long for this moment,” and “Did you see Daddy?” De Grasse lives in Florida with his partner, 2016 Olympic 100m hurdles silver medallist Nia Ali, and their children.
This was Canada’s first Olympic gold medal on the track since Donovan Bailey’s 100m win in Atlanta in 1996. Victory has been many long years in the making for De Grasse, who battled injury after injury in the wake of the Rio Olympics (where he won silver, finishing second to Usain Bolt). A few weeks before the 2017 world championships in London, he tore his hamstring, and seemed never to get free of the lingering effects of the injury over the next several seasons. Two years later in Doha, he was able to repeat his medal performances from Rio, with bronze in the 100m and silver in the 200m. Three days ago in Tokyo, he secured another bronze in the 100m, then lowered his national record in the semi-finals of the 200m, and fans everywhere who dared to hope that he could actually win the whole thing were finally rewarded as he crossed the line today.
"Catch you in the final, @De6rasse?" 😏
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) August 3, 2021
Here are the final results:
- Andre De Grasse (Canada) 19.62 (national record)
- Kenny Bednarek (USA) 19.68 (PB)
- Noah Lyles (USA) 19.74 (SB)
- Erriyon Knighton (USA) 19.93
- Joseph Fahnbulleh (Liberia) 19.98 (national record)
- Aaron Brown (Canada) 20.20
- Rasheed Dwyer (Jamaica) 20.21
- Jereem Richards (Trinidad & Tobago) 20.39
🥇1908 – Robert Kerr
🥇1932 – Percy Williams
🥇2021 – Andre De Grasse
GOLDEN – 19.62 Canadian record
First winner not named Bolt since 2004 pic.twitter.com/T1rar7uv6F
— Alex Cyr (@Cyresy_10) August 4, 2021
We can look forward to seeing even more of De Grasse, and of Brown, in the 4x100m relay on Thursday morning in Tokyo (this evening, for Canadian viewers).
Kenyans win gold and silver in 800m
It didn’t come close to David Rudisha’s world or Olympic record time of 1:40.91 from London 2012, but the men’s 800m final did not lack for passionate effort, and the ending was sweet for his native Kenya, with Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich taking gold and silver, in 1:45.06 and 1:45.23. The former hurdler, Poland’s Patryk Dobek, snagged bronze, in 1:45.39.
These were the first medals for Kenya at the Tokyo Games, though they have dominated this event historically, with Rudisha winning gold again in Rio. (Rudisha has suffered an endless string of injuries and misfortunes since then, including a back injury, a car crash and surgery on his ankle.) It was sweet vindication for Korir, who false started in the heats of the 400m and was disqualified.
Congratulations! Emmanuel Korir wins Kenya's first gold in men's 800m final as Ferguson Rotich clinches silver. Hyvin Kiyeng won bronze in the women's 3000m steeplechase. HONGERA to all of them for making us proud. pic.twitter.com/BvpvVyPiuW
— Athletics Kenya (@athletics_kenya) August 4, 2021
It was 31-year-old Rotich’s best achievement in the event, surpassing his bronze medal at the 2019 world championships, and a wonderful reward for Korir, who did not make the final at either the 2017 or 2019 world championships. Bronze medalist Dobek only transitioned to the 800m from the 400m hurdles this year, according to sources, and was not one of the favourites going into the race. Most surprisingly, there was little sign of either Nijel Amos, who was reinstated after falling in the semi-final (and who had the fastest time in the world this year, going into the Games, with sub-1:42, and won silver in 2012), or defending bronze medallist Clayton Murphy of Team USA in this race. Australia’s Peter Bol was in contention, leading early, but ran out of steam in the final 100m, finishing fourth.
For full results, click here.