TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY TEAM CANADA CLAIMED OLYMPIC GOLD IN THE MEN’S 4X100M.
This year Athletics Canada has many stars to watch at Rio, although one Canadian in particular needs no introduction: Andre De Grasse. After winning the 100M & 200M at the Pan Am Games and securing the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships, the man is one of four Canadian 100M runners to break the 10-second barrier. Andre’s “on-track” success has also caught the attention of sponsors, landing the richest contract for a new professional in track and field history with Puma valued at $11.25 Million.
Along with competing in the 100m, 200m at Rio, Andre will race in the 4x100M. With which three of his teammates Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, Bolade Ajomale, Akeem Haynes, and Oluwasegun Makinde is yet to be confirmed. The hype surrounding Canada’s sprinters this summer is undeniable. However, it was on this day, 20 years ago, that Canada’s excitement and pride for their Olympic sprinters reached a level that has yet to be surpassed.
Just take a look for yourself.
With the words “blast off” shaved on his head, Canada’s leadoff man, Robert Esmie launched Canada out of the starting blocks, 36.79 seconds later Donovan Bailey crossed the finish line and claimed gold for Canada in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games 4x100M Relay.
Bruny Surin and Glenroy Gilbert ran the second and third legs for Canada with emphatic determination leaving rival Americans and the rest of the field in their wake. Various journalists would later comment about how quiet the stunned, 83,000 strong Atlanta crowd was when Bailey crossed the finish line. To say Canada was excited about the victory would be a massive understatement. Even Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien interrupted a wedding to call Atlanta and congratulate the team. The men of 1996 captivated the country’s hearts and minds, inspiring generations to come.
With this summer’s Olympic Games just a few days away, it is time to remind Canadians of the passion and excitement our 1996 relay team instilled in us. On Friday August 19th 2016, Andre De Grasse, Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, and Oluwasegun Makinde will look to inspire Canadians once again and surpass the excitement and pride Canadians felt 20 years ago.
In Andre’s own words “Canadian track is back”. And our country can’t wait to watch Team Canada compete on the world stage.