City is planning 'wonderful homecoming' for De Grasse in September
DOWNTOWN MARKHAM, ON -- More than 200 fans in Markham, Ont. cheered wildly for hometown favourite Andre De Grasse as the sprinter raced across the finish line on Thursday night to take home silver in the men's 200-metre at Rio.
"We were pumped," Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti told CBC News of the final race, in which Jamaica's Usain Bolt won the gold medal.
"What a race to watch. He moved up the ranks, he got that silver medal and pushed Bolt to try even harder."
Bolt placed first with a time of 19.78 seconds, while De Grasse came in a close second with a time of 20.02 seconds. The medal is De Grasse's second, following his bronze for the men's 100-metre.
The crowd at what Markham calls its Olympic Square, near Birchmount Road and Enterprise Boulevard, included lots of families with children. Many people jumped to their feet when he crossed the finish line.
"Our community is very, very proud of Andre as an athlete. But I have to say, we're proud of him also as an ambassador, not only of the city of Markham, but obviously of Canada."
The mayor admitted feeling nervous as he watched De Grasse run in the final.
"I was nervous. We have such high expectations of him. He certainly has proven himself in short a period of time," Scarpitti said. "We know the pressure, the moment, can always lead to a different turnout."
Scarpitti said the city is planning a welcome home event for De Grasse at the Markham Pan Am centre in mid-September.
"This community will give Andre a wonderful homecoming that he deserves," he said.