No rest for De Grasse, who will be back on the track in the Prefontaine Classic

·4 min read

Neighbours lined the streets leading to Andre De Grasse's house in Jacksonville, Fla., their lawns adorned with signs of congratulations.

They clapped and waved as Canada's sprint star returned home from Tokyo after adding another three Olympic medals to his collection.

De Grasse said he was touched by homecoming surprise, organized by his partner Nia Ali.

"I don’t know how she got all that together," De Grasse said. "The kids had balloons and drawings and gifts. It was pretty cool to come home to."

The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., became Canada's most decorated male Olympian in history in Tokyo, adding gold in the 200 metres, and bronze in the 100 and 4x100 relay to the three medals he captured in 2016 in Rio.

But there was no time to put his feet up and reflect on another great Games. De Grasse's season isn't done. He'll race Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meet in Eugene, Ore., in a stacked 100-metre field that includes Tokyo silver medallist Fred Kerley.

"And then I'll re-evaluate," De Grasse said.

There are four more Diamond League meets in Europe, including the Final in Zurich on Sept. 8-9, which contribute points for world rankings, and prize money.

De Grasse said getting motivated to race post-Tokyo will be easy.

"Right now there's less pressure, I can go out and get some races in, and make some appearances, keep my rankings up high for next year," he said.

Immediately after his 200 victory in Tokyo, De Grasse said he'd love a Olympic 100 title. Known for his strong finishes, the Canadian was last out of the blocks en route to finishing third in a personal best 9.89 seconds in Tokyo.

His coach, Rana Reider, told him with a better start gold is definitely within reach.

"We're going to try to work on it some more. It's gotten better, every year it's improving. It might not look like that on on camera, but it’s slowing getting better from previous years," De Grasse said. "And I feel like I also have time to grow, I'm still young and I feel like I have more time to adjust it."

De Grasse had kind words for Reider, who he jokes is part-coach-part-guru. De Grasse and Ali, the reigning world 100 hurdles champion, have worked with Reider in Florida the past two seasons.

"He's really a track nerd," De Grasse said. "He lives and breathes track. That's his whole life. I feel like I'm always telling him, 'Find something else to do!' But he just loves it.

"We're still new in our relationship, we’ve only been together for two years, so I feel like every year like we're improving, we're getting better. The last two championships, obviously the worlds (in 2019 where De Grasse won silver and bronze) and the Olympics, we've had some great success."

Ali plans to experience some of that success again. When the 32-year-old won gold for the U.S. at the 2019 worlds in Doha, she did her victory lap with daughter Yuri on one hip and son Titus running alongside. She and De Grasse have since had a son, born in May (they haven't revealed his name).

While numerous moms including Canadian marathoner Malindi Elmore, who has two sons, made headlines in Tokyo, women returning to sport after three kids is still rare.

"She's a fighter," De Grasse said. "She feels like she still has some things to accomplish, and she wants to try to do that. So, I'm very supportive of her, and we'll go with the flow.

"She has actually started back a little bit, small steps like swimming and biking, she’s planning to defend her world title in Oregon next year," he added. "She’ll start back training with the group in October, we're trying to figure out logistics of getting a nanny and everything."

De Grasse joked with reporters in Tokyo that Ali was desperate to have him home after caring for the kids alone during his couple of months away.

"I’ve been just really trying to spend time with my family (since arriving home)," he said. "I was trying be there for them, just being a dad, and of course, still trying to manage my other occupations, whether it’s on the track or my sponsors."

Indeed, life hasn't slowed down for the sprinter. In between getting back on the track, and being with his kids, De Grasse spent a couple of days this week helping promote his partnership with web hosting company GoDaddy and their new "Don't Stop Being Unstoppable" campaign. De Grasse said he's happy to support small business, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic have ravaged so many.

De Grasse plans to branch further into the small business world himself soon; he's launching his own clothing line.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect time for De Grasse's 100-metre run in Tokyo.

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