Twenty-six years after Robert Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert, Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey captured gold for Canada in the men’s 4×100-metre relay on a Saturday night in Georgia at the 1996 Olympics, another Canadian quartet of runners have struck gold — this time on a Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.
With a boisterous American crowd going crazy for the heavily-favoured U.S. track team at the World Athletics Championships, Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse ran the race of their lives to win gold for Canada in a national record time of 37.48 seconds. It’s Canada’s third medal at these worlds.
The U.S. won silver in 37.55, while Great Britain claimed bronze (37.83).
It’s the first time a Canadian men’s relay team has won gold on American soil since those 1996 Atlanta Games. It also marks the sixth time Canadian men have won a relay medal at the world championships — three gold, three bronze.
l Canadian men golden in 4x100m relay at athletics worlds:
The last time a Canadian men’s team won the relay at worlds was back in 1997 in Athens. Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert was part of that mid-90s Canadian dream team that won two world titles and a world bronze, as well as that 1996 Olympic gold.
“In my opinion I think they’re a stronger team than what we were. They’re not just 100 metre guys, they’re 200 metre guys too. They’re capacity is much higher. We were primarily 100 metre sprinters,” Gilbert said.
“I’m very proud to work with them and put forth the knowledge I have from over the years. They’ve made it easy.”
The Canadian effort is even more remarkable considering anchor De Grasse had COVID-19 less than a month ago. He chose to sit out the 200m event – he’s the reigning Olympic champion in that event.
De Grasse, Brown and Rodney were all part of the last Canadian relay team to win a medal at worlds, a bronze medal seven years ago in Beijing.
Blake, the new addition, was part of the team that captured silver in Tokyo last summer at the Olympics.
This Canadian team has talked about the importance of chemistry when it comes to the relay. They felt more prepared and more experienced than the other teams going into the final and it showed on Saturday night.
Gilbert says it’s something they practice every spring during a number of camps and competitions.
“A lot of it is fundamentals and chemistry. All of these guys are talented. If they adhere to fundamentals under pressure they’ll be successful. And the chemistry these guys have is unmistakable,” he said.
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