made quite the return to the track after his withdrawal from the worlds 200-metre event a very golden one at that.
Anchoring a team with Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney, the Canadians set a national record and world-leading time of 37.48 seconds en route to gold in the men’s 4x100m relay at the world track and field championships on Saturday.
“ (This is) all we talked about (us) actually having a great shot at being on top of the podium,” De Grasse said.
“This year, I think with a lot of us being more fresh myself, running like six races and then Brendon coming in for the relay, I think that also helped us. Just being able to practise the relay more and being able to go out there and have that team chemistry.”
The Americans grabbed silver (37.55), while Great Britain claimed bronze (37.83).
The gold was Canada’s third medal of the world championships.
De Grasse, lined up side-by-side with American Marvin Bracy, the silver medallist from the 100m, when receiving their batons, put his stamp on the final with his signature closing speed.
The Markham, Ont., native contracted COVID-19 just a month back and did not qualify for the 100m final before pulling his name out of the 200m competition.
De Grasse wasn’t the only one to have been dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
Athletics Canada coach Glenroy Gilbert had to coach the team through Zoom having contracted the virus himself recently.
Despite all that’s happened, continuity and team chemistry has become the name of the game for the Canadian squad.
“We’ve run together at the Olympics last year we have the same team. This year, with our head coach going down? It was one of those things where we trust ourselves and open the marks up a little bit and give us some wiggle room to work with,” Blake said.
“That was the most important thing to just get the stick moving. Once we have the stick moving, (it) doesn’t slow down.”
The victory also comes after some near misses by Canada’s team.
Canada earned silver at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics and bronze in Rio in 2016, plus bronze at the 2015 worlds in Beijing. Canada didn’t make the final at the last worlds in 2019 in Doha.
Led by Donovan Bailey, Canada won 4×100 gold at the 1995 and 1997 world championships. That team included Gilbert himself.
In more Canadian action, Marco Arop continues his immense rise in the men’s 800-metre ranks.
The Edmonton native earned his first world championship medal with a bronze on Saturday. For the 23-year-old, ranked fourth in the world, it was a full circle moment.
Arop is just the second Canadian male to medal in the race at worlds. Gary Reed won silver in 2007 in Osaka, Japan.