Andre De Grasse wasn’t at his best Wednesday night. Then again, he didn’t have to be.
The 20-year-old star sprinter from Markham, Ont. overcame a bad start to win the men’s 100 metres in 10.05 seconds at the Pan American Games. He narrowly beat Ramon Gittens of the Barbados, who finished in 10.07.
“Somehow, I just managed to pull off the win,” De Grasse said. “I had no pressure, my family and friends told me that no matter what happens, they are still proud of me. It has been a long season, and to do this, it is a wonderful feeling right now.”
His time Wednesday wasn’t near his best. But this race was not De Grasse’s prime focus of the season. That comes next month at the world championships in Beijing where he’ll take on big guns Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt.
“We’re partly training through this meet, so he’s not as light as he probably could be,” said Caryl Smith Gilbert, his coach at University of Southern Califoria. “It’s hard to have an NCAA championship peak, and a Canadian championship peak, and a Pan Am peak and world championships, so we had to pick and choose what we could do.”
The victory is the latest highlight in a season that has seen De Grasse nonchalantly lay down one spectacular performance after another in both the 100 and 200. He became the first Canadian to break the 10-second barrier in 15 years at the Pac 12 championships several weeks ago, and he’s done it a few times since.
De Grasse is also racing the 200 and the 4×100-metre relay at Pan Ams.
Earlier in the night, Canada’s Melissa Bishop won gold in the women’s 800 metres. The 26-year-old from Eganville, Ont., ran to victory in one minute 59.62 seconds.
“I knew the crowd was going to be loud no matter what, so I was just trying to put myself in a good position to be able to run in and let the crowd do its work, and let the training come through,” Bishop said. “I’m really happy it worked out. It’s so nice to win a gold medal at home.”
Toronto’s Sarah Wells added a silver in the women’s 400 hurdles.
Canada has 13 medals in athletics through two full days of competition and leads all countries with seven gold.
Also Wednesday, Canadian decathlete Damian Warner is on pace to break Michael Smith’s Canadian record that has stood for 19 years.
The 25-year-old from London, Ont., takes a personal best score of 4460 into Thursday’s Day 2.
The world championship bronze medallist opened with personal bests of 10.28 seconds in the 100 metres and 7.68 metres in the long jump.
He threw 14.36 in the shot put, the event that derailed his performance in May at the prestigious Hypo Meeting when he faulted on all three of his throws.
He then cleared 1.97 metres in the high jump — his best is 2.07 — and capped the night by winning the 400 metres in 47.66 seconds.
Canada won 13 medals in total Wednesday and now has 176 — 64 gold, 56 silver and 53 bronze.
The United States leads with 76 gold and 201 overall medals. Brazil is third with 32 gold and 114 overall.
Earlier, Whitney McClintock won the women’s water-skiing competition, Rusty Malinoski of Humboldt, Sask., took the men’s wakeboarding title and Hugo Houle finished first in the men’s road cycling individual time trial.
McClintock finished ahead of American Regina Jaquess and Mexico’s Carolina Chapoy in the women’s water ski.
The native of Cambridge, Ont., took the lead after earning 8,370 points in the tricks event following a disappointing slalom run.
“It’s a complete shocker to me, actually,” McClintock said. “Today is not the way I planned it to go. Not even a little bit. It seems like on any other given day that would have not won you a gold medal.
“It’s one of those hard things to celebrate, but a gold medal is a gold medal.”
Jarret Llewellyn of Innisfail, Alta., added a silver in the men’s overall.
Malinoski had a score of 89.11 and finished ahead of American Daniel Powers and Venezuela’s Juan Mendez.
Malinoski was clearly relaxed on the water, pumping his fist and egging on the crowd to cheer louder in his final pass.
“I was favourite to win and I didn’t want to let anyone down,” he said. “I acted like I had it in the bag, but I was definitely nervous and I didn’t want to screw up.”
Houle, of Ste-Perpetue, Que., finished the 37-kilometre time trial in 45 minutes, 13.4 seconds.
“You never know until you start how you’re going to feel but today on the first lap, I had to control myself to not go too hard because my body wanted to go,” said Houle, who recently participated in the prestigious Giro d’Italia.
“Today I had the best ride of my life for sure.”
Vancouver’s Jasmin Glaesser won silver in the 19.5-kilometre women’s individual time trial in 27:01.31.
In boxing, Toronto’s Arthur Biyarslanov advanced to the men’s 64-kilogram final with a unanimous decision over Luis Arcon Diaz of Venezuela. Kenny Lally of Prince George, B.C., finished with bronze in the men’s 56 kg after losing his semifinal to Cuba’s Andy Cruz. Sammy El-Mais lost his men’s heavyweight semifinal against Colombia’s Julio Blanco Devis in a walkover and came away with a bronze medal.
Calgary fencer Alanna Goldie added a bronze medal in women’s foil and Marc-Andre Bergeron won bronze in the men’s over-80-kilogram taekwondo event.
Also Wednesday, Canada’s men’s basketball team rallied for an 88-83 win over Argentina.
Andrew Nicholson and Jamal Murray combined for 44 points, and Brady Heslip had six key points with time winding down as Canada improved to 2-0.
Both teams seemed upset with the officiating. Argentina had six players with four fouls when the dust settled while Canada had four, including Anthony Bennett.
“We had to change our lineup, we had to go small in order to keep players on the floor,” said Canada coach Jay Triano. “That’s understanding the game, that if it’s going to be called like that you need to have to match it or you have to be able to play through the physicality.
“I thought our guys grew as the game went on.”
In women’s baseball, Canada remained undefeated by coming back to beat Puerto Rico 3-2. Edmonton’s Nicole Luchanski led the comeback with a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning. The result assures Canada of at least a bronze medal.
Canadian catcher Stephanie Savoie was helped off the field after colliding with a Puerto Rican player to record the final out of the game.
The Canadian women’s field hockey team lost its semifinal match 3-0 to the United States. Canada will play Chile in the bronze-medal game on Friday.
In other action Wednesday, the women’s soccer team lost a semifinal in heartbreaking fashion, falling 1-0 to Colombia. Canada faces Mexico in the bronze-medal game on Friday.
And in women’s softball, Kaleigh Rafter had three hits and two runs batted in, and Canada scored four runs in the seventh inning to beat the Dominican Republic 9-7.