Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse ended his long gold medal drought on Wednesday by taking the men’s 200m Olympic gold medal in a time of 19.62 seconds.
De Grasse, who won the 100-meter bronze and 200-meter silver at the 2016 Olympic Games and World Championships in 2019, was finally able to exploit his potential under the clear night sky in the Tokyo Stadium.
The 26-year-old Canadian became the first 200-meter Olympic champion since Jamaican Usain Bolt, who won gold three times in a row at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before retiring in 2017.
For most of the race, however, it looked like De Grasse was going to win every medal except gold again. He came into the corner in third but seemed to find a higher gear to overtake his American rivals on the final 40 meters and take the win with a Canadian national record.
The last time the United States won this tournament was in 2004 when they won the medals.
Noah Lyles had established himself as the best 200-meter sprinter in the world in 2018 by winning all of his races over the distance and driving a series of under 19.7 times.
World champion Lyles, who came to Tokyo in 2021 with a world best of 19.74 in the US trials, appeared ready to end his country’s long wait. But Lyles was overtaken by his teammate Kenny Bednarek, who took the silver medal with a time of 19.68 and had to be satisfied with bronze at 19.74.
Bednarek had arrived in Tokyo in glowing form after his personal best of 19.78 at the US Olympic Trials and running on the track next to De Grasse helped him through.
American Erriyon Knighton, 17, who set Bolt’s U20 world record, was fourth to fail to become the youngest medalist in a men’s track and field event.
Korir wins first gold for Kenya
Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir won the men’s 800-meter Olympic title while compatriot Ferguson Rotich took silver to highlight his country’s disappointing track and field medal wins at those games.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir celebrates the Tokyo 2020 Men’s 800m Final at the Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 4, 2021. (EPA Photo)
Korir came in 1 minute 45.06 seconds, Rotich finished the race in 1: 45.23, while the Pole Patryk Dobek took bronze in 1: 45.39.
Korir succeeds his Kenyan compatriot and two-time champion David Rudisha, who was unable to defend his title due to injury.
Wilfried Bungei also won the title for Kenya at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Kenyans were not at their best in Tokyo, even if their stranglehold was broken by Morocco’s Soufiane el Bakkali in the 1984 men’s 3000-meter obstacle race.
Silver medalist Rotich said the disappointing results were understandable given the difficulties Kenyan athletes faced in preparing for the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In Kenya, despite the challenges of the pandemic, we are making progress,” he said.
“Last year most of us didn’t train well. There was the coronavirus and now we’re coming back.