By Perry Lefko
Even though a hamstring injury has prevented him from competing since May, Andre De Grasse is not feeling hamstrung. If anything, he feels happy and blessed.
Canada’s top-ranked 100-metre sprinter became a father, when he and girlfriend, Nia Ali, celebrated the birth of a daughter, Yuri, in June. In addition, De Grasse is set to have a Markham street named after him in September and will be inducted into the Markham Sports Hall of Fame in October.
“I’ve been doing rehab for the past month now, so I probably have another month to go and, then, I can head back to the track,” he said at Woodbine Racetrack, where he participated in the draw for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
A winner of three medals at the 2016 Olympics, De Grasse expects to begin competing again in April 2019, for the outdoor season. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old is enjoying life as a father.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s a different experience for me. Definitely, having a daughter changes a lot of your perspective on things in the world. For me it’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m blessed to be able to go through that and be a father. Now I’m trying to balance fatherhood and my career.”
He is looking forward to the official unveiling of the street that will be named after him. It has been in the works for a couple of years.
“It’s a huge honour,” he said. “I never would have thought that would happen. When they announced it two years ago I was crying tears of joy. I don’t know how I’m going to feel at the ceremony. It’s pretty huge. They are putting it in downtown Markham, so it’s going to be in a great place.
“Markham means a lot to me. It’s where I grew up. A lot of my friends and family are from there. I went to school there. Anytime I get a chance to go back, it brings back a lot of memories. So, for me it’s a huge honour just to be from there and to have a street named after me. It’s an incredible feeling.”
He will also be inducted into the Markham Sports Hall of Fame and he’s looking forward to it.
“There’s some things you can’t control with injuries and health, but other than that it’s been wonderful,” he said. “All that has happened is just a huge success for me in general.”
In May, he launched the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation, which will be a public charitable foundation committed to empowering and inspiring youth through sport and education.
“For me it’s all about giving back, to inspire youth through education and sports,” he said. “I was able to get that same opportunity through (Olympic medallist) Tony Sharpe and a lot of other moving pieces that helped me throughout my career to go to college and, of course, becoming a professional athlete. It’s all about giving that extra piece of help to that athlete that’s going to make a huge difference in what they accomplish, whether it’s in track, in sport or education.”
Photo: A winner of three medals at the 2016 Olympics, Andre De Grasse expects to begin competing again in April 2019, for the outdoor season. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old is enjoying life as a father.