Andre De Grasse announces foundation where it all began
23-year-old Canadian sprinter announces the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation at the Central Region track and field championships on Thursday.
Six years ago, on May 17, 2012, Andre De Grasse introduced himself to the track and field world at the York Region Athletic Association track and field championships, crossing the finish line with a time of 10.91 seconds. On Thursday, De Grasse was again at the finish line, this time to announce the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation, created to help support high school athletes with resources to guide them to succeed both on the track and in the classroom.
“These kids are great, they’re talent, they put in the hard work and for me it’s trying to give them that step to just be like me or be even better than me,” De Grasse said. “If we can do that we can raise a great community.“
With the support of his mom, Beverley De Grasse, and former coach Tony Sharpe, De Grasse felt that now is the right time to start this foundation, being able to give young athletes the support and belief that Sharpe gave him when he first started competing in athletics.
Beverley De Grasse ranks this foundation as one of her son’s top accomplishments, proud that he’s giving back to the next generation. She says she never thought that her son would have such aninfluence on young athletes. “This is something amazing, so many young people that he can have an impact on their life and future,” she says. “It’s amazing to see how the kids react to him and it’s because he’s such a caring person.”
Coming off hamstring injury that left him off the track for nine months, which included this year’s indoor season, the 23-year-old hasn’t performed at the level people expected him to. Expected to compete for the 100-metre crown at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London before injuring his hamstring last summer, the Markham, Ont., has seen his time slip further away from his 9.91 personal best, set at the Rio Olympics. But De Grasse remains confident that he can bounce back.
“There’s always going to be ups and downs, that’s what this sport is all about,” the three-time Olympic medalist said. “You just got to believe in yourself, have that confidence in you and things will always turn around.”
Taking a few weeks away from competition after finishing eighth in Shanghai, China, running a time of 10.25 seconds, De Grasse is seeing the successes of his fellow Canadian teammates. With Gavin Smellie running winning the 100m event with a time of 10.01 seconds in Windsor and Aaron Brown running a personal-best time of 20.07 in the 200m at the Prefontaine Classic, De Grasse believes the competition within the team pushes each athlete to be better.
“A lot of people are motivated and believe in themselves. Once they saw myself run sub-10, they believed they could do it as well,” De Grasse says. “It’s really good for our relay team moving forward, we got a bronze medal and we know that, watching the film, we could do a lot better. It’s really awesome now that everyone is running well. Bolade [Ajomale], Aaron, Gavin, putting in a lot of hard work so makes me step up my A game, make sure I’m on point and that I’m ready for trials.”