The Next 100m Olympic Champion?

At age 21, 100 metre bronze medallist Andre De Grasse is the heir apparent

This tweet from Twitter executive Kristine Stewart shows the two medallists congratulating one another

“He runs just like me” says Usain Bolt, the greatest sprinter of all time. He’s talking about young Andre De Grasse. At 21 some thought too young to medal in these games. But Andre was having none of that… letting the world know during the qualifying heats that he was in Rio for 1 reason only!

In 2020, when the world gathers in Tokyo for the 32nd Olympiad, it will have been 16 years since someone not named Usain Bolt won the men’s 100metres. Only time will tell if that will be De Grasse’s moment… but things seem to be pointing in that direction.

Before Christmas, sporting apparel giant Puma signed Andre De Grasse to a multi year, 11 million dollar contract. That’s because they knew that after the games in Rio this summer, he’d be worth much more. That would be his coming out party. That’s when De Grasse would become a star.

“I can’t complain” said the 21 year old after setting a personal best time of 9.91 seconds on the biggest stage of them all. This after equalling his personal best of 9.92 in the semi-final. In both cases, he ran right next to Usain Bolt, the now 3-time Olympic champion at this distance. His proximity to this great sporting figure seemed to help young Andre. In both races, De Grasse seemed to move with Bolt as he charged through the field after his trademark slow start.

After the race, the king and the next one shared a warm moment, with Bolt telling his young apprentice that he had warned other sprinters about the Canadian before the race.

Following the final, these were the top 10 words associated with conversation about Andre De Grasse on Twitter.

And these are the top 10 influencers in the conversation about Andre De Grasse on Twitter, with the number of interactions in brackets (as of time of publication):

1. de6rasse (5311)
2. athleticscanada (827)
3. usainbolt (409)
4. cbcolympics (361)
5. teamcanada (285)
6. donovanbailey (255)
7. degrassearm (204)
8. rwesthead (178)
9. nbc (111)
10. cityofmarkham (105)

We see above the runner himself is #1, followed by his team, Bolt and the CBC who is broadcasting the games in Canada.

In the 6th spot is Donovan Bailey who for 20 years has been the face of sprinting in this country. That is since his gold medal and world record performance in the 100m in Atlanta (in a then WR time of 9.84 seconds). Not only was that a performance for the ages, but it helped erase some pretty awful Canadian memories from 1988. And for all those reasons Bailey will always be a legend in Canadian sports.

However the camera is always looking for the next big thing, and De Grasse appears to be it. Based on Bailey’s reaction to Sunday’s performance, I’d say he’s just fine with Andre taking that spotlight.

Below are the top 10 hashtags surrounding the conversation… and we see one of the focal points in that conversation is the budding #bromance between Bolt and De Grasse, the men who represent the present and the future of the Olympics marquee event.

Top 10 hashtags on Twitter related to Andre De Grasse in the hours following his bronze medal win

Taking a look at the stats on social media which blew up leading up to and following the 100m final, the most tweeted link was this one from the Canadian Olympic Team.

Lost in all of this excitement is the fact that this is the first medal won by a Canadian male athlete in Rio. The other 12 have all been won by women, in everything from swimming to heptathlon, and from rowing to trampoline. So maybe the Canadian men will pull their weight a little more in week 2 of the games and we’ll see team Canada move up in the medal count as the games draw to a close on Sunday.

It should also be said that while this is a profile of Andre De Grasse and what the future may hold for this incredibly talented individual, this is in no way a trivialization of what Usain Bolt has achieved. No one has won 3 gold medals in the 100m, until now. Nobody has broken world records by such a large margin, until now. And certainly not while celebrating from the 70m mark, until now. He is arguably the greatest athlete of our time.