RIO DE JANEIRO — Andre De Grasse proved once again that he can run with the best sprinters in the world.
The Canadian flew to a personal best time of 9.91 seconds to take the bronze medal in the men’s 100-metre sprint Sunday at the Rio Olympics.
De Grasse beat his bronze-medal time from the 2015 world championships by one-hundredth of a second, trailing only the legendary Usain Bolt and American sprinter Justin Gatlin in a star-studded field.
“I’m speechless,” De Grasse said. “They’re probably jumping up and down screaming back home in Canada.”
The sprinter form Markham, Ont., kept Canada’s medal streak alive. Canadian athletes have won at least one medal on every day of competition and sit 11th in the total medal standings with 13 (two gold, two silver, nine bronze).
He also is the first Canadian male athlete to win hardware in Rio. Canada’s Olympic women claimed the country’s first 12 medals.
Bolt won gold for the third straight Games in 9.86 seconds, and Gatlin took silver in 9.89.
With this likely the last Olympics for Bolt, and Gatlin at age 34, the future looks bright for the 21-year-old De Grasse.
“I think so definitely,” Athletics Canada head coach Peter Eriksson said when asked if De Grasse should be the favourite at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “He’s now on the stage where he can be the greatest Canadian athlete ever.”
Diver Jennifer Abel came up just short of making it a multi-medal day for the Canadians.
The 24-year-old from Laval, Que., finished fourth in the individual three-metre springboard on Sunday, a week after narrowly missing the podium in the synchronized three metre with partner Pamela Ware.
Abel earned a total of 367.25 for her five dives in the final, 5.5 points back of bronze medallist Tania Cagnotto of Italy. China’s Shi Tingmao won gold with 406.05 total points while He Zi, also of China, took silver with 387.9.
Despite finishing fourth again, Abel said she felt much better after Saturday’s dives than she did after coming up short in the synchro.
“They’re two completely different sentiments,” said Abel. “For sure I wanted to bring two medals home and even though it’s disappointing, I can tell myself that I battled until the end. This competition will make me so much stronger for the next few years that I’m even excited to start diving again.”
Ware of Greenfield Park, Que., placed seventh in her first Olympic Games. The 23-year-old finished with 323.15 points.
Abel dominated the qualifying on Friday with a total of 373 points, 5.95 and 15.45 points more than China’s He and Tingmao, respectively, and finished third in the semifinals on Saturday.
Abel won gold in the individual springboard at the Pan American Games in Toronto last summer.
Boxer Ariane Fortin of St-Nicholas, Que., will also leave Rio disappointed after a tight, split-decision loss to Dariga Shakimova of Kazakhstan.
Fortin had to wait several minutes while the judges tallied the points from the final round. It’s a crushing blow for Fortin, who considered giving up boxing after losing to Mary Spencer at the Canadian trials for the 2012 London Olympics.
“The most important thing is to be proud of my performance, and that’s what I’m going to hold onto, despite the immensity of the disappointment,” Fortin said.
Also, Karine Thomas and Jocelyn Simoneau sit seventh after the free routine portion of the duet synchronized swimming.
Thomas, from Gatineau, Que., and Simoneau, from Saint-Laurent, Que., scored 90.0667 in the recently cleaned waters of Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre. The technical routine is on Monday morning, with the final on Tuesday.
Vancouver’s Shallon Olsen finished eighth in an eight-woman field in the vault final.
Equestrians Amy Millar of Perth, Ont., and Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont., headline the Canadian show jumping team. On the first day of qualifying Sunday, Amy Millar and Lamaze both posted clean rounds while Canada was tied for third in the team event.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., was 5-under 66 to tie for fourth on the day, while Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., was 2-under 69 to tie for 23rd on the round in the men’s golf tournament. DeLaet was 20th on the final leaderboard, while Hearn was tied for 30th.
Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley were eliminated from the Rio Games on Sunday after dropping a 2-0 decision to Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst in women’s beach volleyball.
Pavan, from Kitchener, Ont., and Bansley, from Waterdown, Ont., beat Victoria’s Jamie Broder and Toronto’s Kristina Valjas 2-0 in the round of 16.
“If we had lost that game and played our best, that would be one thing,” Pavan said, her voice cracking at times. “But I think we left a lot out there so it’s a little hard to swallow right now.”
In badminton, Michelle Li of Markham, Ont., fell 19-21, 21-15, 21-17 to India’s Sindhu Pusarla.
Canada’s women’s basketball team lost its final preliminary-round game 73-60 to Spain. Canada will face France in the quarter-finals.
The Canadian Press
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