Canada have delivered a scintillating performance to win men’s 4x100m gold at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon.
While the USA were clear pre-race favourites, having swept the podium in both the individual 100m and 200m competitions, the Canadians were relying on Andre De Grasse to lead them home after he had pulled out of the individual 200m competition earlier in the championships following a disappointing 100m campaign.
But in a stunning turnaround, the Canadian team of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and De Grasse blazed to victory in a world lead time of 37.48 with the USA coming home second in 37.55 and Great Britain winning bronze in 37.83.
While world 100m champion Fred Kerley was missing from the team, many would have been forgiven for thinking the USA were a shoo-in for the title, after their victories in both sprint events in Eugene. However, De Grasse had pointed out his intentions to concentrate on the relay when he made the decision to forgo the 200m.
And he was fully focused on delivering gold.
“I’m feeling good. I like our chances tomorrow,” De Grasse told CBC Sports the day before the race.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can get on the podium and get that gold medal. We’ve won silver together as a squad. It would be great to come away with a gold medal.”
Few would have predicted how this race would shake out, with De Grasse putting in a sensational last leg of 8.79 to beat off the challenge of Marvin Bracy, who won silver in the men’s 100m on Day 2 of these Worlds.
De Grasse has had to deal with injury and illness over the past months, including a bout of COVID-19 that left him struggling to breathe. He went out in the semi-final of the 100m competition, and when he announced he would also miss the 200m it looked as if his World Championships would be coming to a disappointing end.
But the 27-year-old, who has won a medal in every major final he has competed in, is a big game player if ever there was one, and once again showed nerves of steel to help his team win a thrilling World Championships final.
Canada win men’s world 4x100m hurdles title
Picture by 2022 Getty Images
“It’s not on home soil, but it felt like it”
Brown, who ran the first leg of the relay for Canada, spoke after the race about the unity of the Canadian team that won gold in Oregon:
“I knew I had to set the tone coming out of the blocks,” he said. “Needed to put us in a good position; I knew if I did that the rest would handle itself. I had full faith in my guys,
‘I put my guy (Jerome Blake) in a good position and he held it down. I knew and trusted him, and once he gave it to Brendon we’re still up there in the front, and I’m like, ‘man, we got this.’ And then once Dre (De Grasse) was in the front, I’m like, ‘okay, it’s over.’ I was just screaming. Man, a special moment.”
Blake had this to say after securing gold with his teammate, in front of his family in the crowd.
“The victory lap was pretty cool, pretty special. I am from up the road in Vancouver, Canada. I have a lot of friends and family here watching. It is really special. My mom was in the stands to see me run.”
And De Grasse, who anchored his team to gold, praised his team who put him in a position to fight for – and eventually win – the gold medal in Oregon.
“It feels great to end my Championship like this,” he said. “These guys put in the work, they put me in position to contend. I was just like, don’t mess this up.
“Once I saw that Brendon (Rodney) had the baton and we were in position to get on the podium, I was like ok, got to get out.
“I accelerated and put my hand back and once I got the baton I was neck-and-neck with the U.S. and I just got to do what I do. It felt great to spoil the party for them; I think there was a lot of Canadian fans out here today. I didn’t realise there were so many.”