Canadian keeps Americans at bay to end long wait for gold

First at last: Canada’s Andre De Grasse crosses the finish line ahead of second-placed USA’s Kenneth Bednarek (left) and third-placed Noah Lyles in the 200m final. — AFP

TOKYO: Canada’s Andre De Grasse ended a long run of finishing with minor medals by winning the men’s 200m gold medal with a scorching time of 19.62 to become the eighth fastest man over the distance.

De Grasse, who claimed the 100m bronze and 200m silver at the 2016 Olympics and 2019 World Championships, finally fulfilled his potential under the clear night sky at the Tokyo Stadium yesterday.

The 26-year-old Canadian became the first Olympic 200m champion since Jamaican Usain Bolt, who won gold at three consecutive Olympics from the 2008 Beijing Games before retiring in 2017.

For most of the race, however, it looked like De Grasse would again finish with any medal but gold.

He came into the turn third but seemed to find a higher gear to surge past his American rivals in the last 40 metres and claim victory with a Canadian national record.

The last time the United States won this event was in 2004, when they swept the medals.

Noah Lyles had established himself as the world’s top 200m sprinter in 2018 by winning all his races over the distance and posting a series of sub-19.7 times.

World champion Lyles, who came to Tokyo with a 2021 world-leading time of 19.74 set in the US trials, appeared poised to end his country’s long wait.

But Lyles was passed by his teammate Kenny Bednarek, who took the silver medal with a time 19.68, and had to settle for bronze in 19.74.

Bednarek had arrived in Tokyo in red-hot form after his 19.78 personal best at the U.S. Olympic trials and running in the lane next to De Grasse helped him through.

American Erriyon Knighton, 17, who has taken Bolt’s Under-20 world record, missed out on becoming the youngest medallist in a men’s athletics event by finishing fourth.

In the 800m, Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir took gold with compatriot Ferguson Rotich taking silver.

Korir clocked 1:45.06 with Rotich finishing in 1:45.23 while Poland’s Patryk Dobek took the bronze in 1:45.39.

Korir succeeds fellow Kenyan and two-time champion David Rudisha, who was unable to defend his title due to injury. — AFP

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