Andre De Grasse just keeps getting faster at the Olympics.
And now he’s eyeing his second medal in Tokyo and the fifth of his Olympic career.
The 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., burned up the Olympic Stadium track on Tuesday night, sprinting to a personal best and Canadian record in the 200-metre semifinal on a scorching evening in Tokyo.
His time of 19.73 seconds was the fastest of the night.
“It’s amazing. It’s always great when you have a personal best. For me, I just want to go back out there and get on the podium. That’s what matters to me the most. That’s my mission for tomorrow,” De Grasse told CBC Sports.
WATCH | De Grasse runs fastest time in semis, sets Canadian record:
And he’ll have Canadian company.
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Aaron Brown ran a season best time of 19.99 to win his semifinal and book a ticket in the title race with De Grasse.
“I feel good. I came to this championship rested. That’s why I sat out the 100-metre so I felt ready to go, to give myself a chance and get into the final,” Brown said.
“Won my heat. It’s going to be a fast one tomorrow. Have to rest up and do it again tomorrow.”
Temperature soars at Olympic stadium
Heat and humidity have been a story at the track throughout the opening days of the competition, with temperatures soaring to nearly 40 C. There was no wind and 70 per cent humidity while the sprinters took to the track on Tuesday night.
De Grasse has been pushed mentally and physically through his first five sprints in Tokyo. Not only has he battled the scorching conditions, but he’s also had to endure five false starts over the course of his races.
An overview shows, from left to right, Canada’s Aaron Brown, Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulle and Noah Lyles of the U.S. crossing the finish line in their men’s 200-metre semifinal heat on Tuesday at the Olympic Stadium. Brown won the heat in 19.99 seconds. (Antonin Thuillier/AFP via Getty Images)
The four-time Olympic medallist was visibly fatigued and seemingly frustrated with his performance Tuesday morning, placing third in his heat in 20.56 seconds.
He explained what happened leading up to his heat after his semifinal success.
“I just needed one more sleep. We woke up at 6 a.m. to catch the bus at 7 a.m. to come out here in the morning. It was blazing hot. I think it was about 40 degrees outside,” he said.
De Grasse the lone sprinter attempting the ‘double’
“I was kind of burnt up a little bit so I went back to my room. Took a nap for about two hours and woke up and I was OK.”
De Grasse is the only sprinter remaining in the men’s 200-metre final who is competing in both the 100-metre and 200-metre events.
On Sunday night in Tokyo, he ran a personal best time in the 100-metre final of 9.89 to win bronze.
“For me, this is an amazing moment,” he told CBC Sports after the race.
“Last year, I never thought we would be here in Tokyo. And to get back on the podium it’s amazing.”
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De Grasse became the first Canadian to win three medals on the track at the 2016 Rio Games, when he took silver in the 200 metres behind Usain Bolt, along with bronze in the 100 metres and 4×100-metre relay.
The 26-year-old is eight-for-eight when it comes to global events he’s competed in — a medal every time.
WATCH | Aaron Brown wins his 200m semi in season’s best time:
Brown, of Toronto, has been running strong and looking confident through his first two 200-metre races in Tokyo.
In Rio five years ago, Brown placed 16th in the 200 metres and 31st in the 100 metres.
These Games, he decided to take the 100-metre race off to focus solely on being prepared for the 200-metre event.
It’s been working so far.
“I ran pretty relaxed,” he said of Tuesday’s semifinal sprint.
“Even though I had guys around me, I didn’t let myself tighten up or stress myself. I think there’s more there.”
Brown also had praise for De Grasse, whom he’s battled alongside for years.
“He was going for it. I’m looking at this replay. He wanted that win. I know he was upset about his prelim. He said he got his nap in. Clearly he was rested,” Brown said.
Final goes Wednesday
Now the waiting. Both Canadian men will take to the track Wednesday night in Japan for the marquee event — it goes at 9:55 p.m. in Tokyo, 8:55 a.m. ET in Canada.
“Just take your mind off of it. Don’t want to get too fixated on it,” Brown said.
“Don’t want to be mentally fatigued. Throw on some Netflix. Watch some cartoons.”
De Grasse has been here before. He thrives in these pressure-packed moments. He won silver in this event in Rio five years ago.
Now he wants to change the colour in Tokyo.
“I just have to get a good treatment tonight. Get some good rest. Try to get more than seven or eight hours because last night I got like five or six,” he said.
“Get more sleep and be ready for tomorrow night.”
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