Exclusive: Andre De Grasse and Jennifer Abel reflect on their incredible Olympics as they gear up for RW&CO's fall fashion campaign

This piece originally appeared in Issue 782 of HELLO! Canada.

To say it was a wild ride for the athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be to sell their experiences short. From empty stands to emotional family video calls (not to mention a romantic airport proposal!), the Summer Games were like no other.

But having waited an extra year for their dreams to come to fruition, Team Canada stars Andre De Grasse and Jennifer Abel weren’t about to let that chance slip away.

“It definitely had a different feel this time around,” Andre, 26, says of the strict protocols surrounding the Games. “We didn’t have anywhere to go, but for athletes that’s almost better because it kept us locked in and focused on what we were there to do. And we did it! Bringing medals back home to Canada is a great feeling.”

Medalling in all three of his sprint events, dad of two Andre made his family – and country – proud. Things went swimmingly for diver Jennifer, 30, who won silver – and, on her return home, a ring from her now-fiancé, David Lemieux.

As newly minted ambassadors for RW&CO‘s Rise Up campaign, the stylish sports superstars took time tout of their busy schedules to chat with HELLO! Canada about their olympic experience, fashion, family and what the future holds.

Jennifer: Diving into love

It was the homecoming seen around the world!

When Quebec-born Jennifer arrived at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, her boyfriend, boxer David Lemieux, 32, was waiting on bended knee with an engagement ring for a truly romantic surprise. In the now-viral video posted by Team Canada, Jennifer can be seen crying joyful tears as she says yes to her beau of five years in front of friends and family.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Canadian Olympic Team (@teamcanada)

“Even though I’m crying in the video, I felt really calm about the situation,” she tells HELLO!. “Just thinking about a new, beautiful chapter opening up for us.”

With four Olympic Games under her belt, Jennifer is now a two-time medal winner, having won her first silver medal with fellow diver Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard and winning bronze in the same event with Émilie Heymans at the London 2012 Games.

HELLO! Canada: Congratulations on your engagement!

Jennifer Abel: Thank you! We weren’t expecting it to go viral! [Laughs] I think it took me two days to realize what had happened. The next morning, I was looking at my finger thinking it had all been a dream.

Tell us a bit about the moment itself.

I feel like it couldn’t have been better timing. I was coming back from Tokyo and I was super emotional. Happy to have won a medal, sad the Olympics were over, also relieved the Olympics were over, everything! I was so excited to go back home and be with my family. Then I land and David gets down on one knee. I was so happy and totally surprised!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jennifer Abel || Olympic diver (@jennabel91)

Have you started thinking about your wedding dress?

Oh, it’s way too early to be thinking about that! I’ve had so much on my mind lately, including decompressing from the Olympics, I think right now I need to focus on what’s going on. Once I’m less in demand maybe I can start looking!

© Provided by Hello! Photo: © Shayne Laverdiere. Styling: Pierre-Olivier Allard. Hair and Make-Up: Sabrina Rinaldi

How would you describe your personal style outside of the pool?

That’s a good question because I’ve been diving my whole life. I started when I was four. So for me, I’ve always dressed like an athlete, leggings and T-shirts that I can be active in. Being able to wear these outfits made me feel great. Before that I never really knew what I was looking for. I still felt comfortable, but way more stylish!

The Rise Up campaign features inspiring, empowering role models like yourself and Andre. What does it mean to you?

It aligns with me so much. When I was putting the clothing on for the photoshoot, I felt like I was rising as a woman. And the phrase itself, throughout my whole career, I had to rise up to really reach my goals and achieve everything I did, attend every Olympics I did. So I feel like I couldn’t have a better connection than that.

What was the overall energy at this year’s Olympics?

Obviously, this was very different from the previous one in terms of restrictions. But it wasn’t always a bad thing; you really got to see the resilience of the athletes and the staff. We were all there for one reason and that was to give it our best and we made it happen. I think we showed the world that it’s possible to have these amazing Games even though we still have COVID-19 around the world.

Was there something from previous Olympics that you felt were missing?

I missed my family, that’s for sure. Everything had been set up for them to be there with me. They had their hotel reservation and their plane tickets. But unfortunately, they had to cancel everything. So I was missing them. But I feel fortunate to have a really close family and to have all the technology to talk to them at my fingertips. I didn’t feel alone.

© Provided by Hello! Mélissa and Jennifer pose with their silver medals in Tokyo. Photo: © Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

What crosses your mind when you’re standing on the podium?

I was really thinking about this situation. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than the fact that Mélissa and I did it. We did everything perfectly. It was easy for us to doubt ourselves. But we didn’t.

What do you do when you’re not training or competing?

When I’m training, I’m always indoors, so I like to get outside as much as I can. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I just want to be out, enjoying the weather. I also love to cook and set out recipes. My best one yet is a French one called pouding chômeur.

It’s been rumoured you’re thinking of retiring. Do you already have plans for the future?

It’s super important for me to come back, rest and not make any emotional decisions. I think it’s time for me to take a break physically and mentally and really think about what the other options are for me. I will be competing at the World Series this fall, though.

Andre: The race of a lifetime

The screams of his biggest fans may not have echoed throughout the stands of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, but they were the sweetest sounds to Andre’s ears.

Having just won a gold medal in the 200-metre race (and becoming the first Canadian to do so since 1928), Andre dashed to a screen to see his family – partner and Olympic hurdler Nia Ali, 32, and their kids, daughter Yuri, 3, a three-month-old son, and Nia’s son, Titus, 6 – and share his excitement over the historic moment.

“I love you guys,” the Olympian told them. “I can’t believe it. Oh, my God. I did it.”

“Love you, have a good day!” – Andre De Grasse, to his family, after he just became an Olympic champion 😭 pic.twitter.com/Uis9HQFnDU

— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 4, 2021

Andre, who also won two bronze medals in Tokyo – bringing his total medal count over the past two Olympics to six – has finally been able to process his big victory and re-establish a somewhat normal schedule back home in Toronto.

“When I got back, my family had a cake and balloons waiting for me, they were so excited to celebrate,” Andre tells HELLO! before saying with a laugh, “Then, right after, it was back to training and juggling the kids’ schedules! But it’s good to be home.”

HELLO! Canada: Congratulations on your amazing Olympic performance! What were you thinking in the moments after you won the gold medal?

Andre De Grasse: It felt like a dream come true. All my work has paid off. I’m a happy man. I couldn’t believe that I did it. Kind of a surreal feeling.

© Provided by Hello! Andre poses with his gold medal in Tokyo. Photo: © Michael Steele/Getty Images

It’s been 93 years since a Canadian won the 200-metre race. What was going through your head when you were at the top of the podium and “O Canada” was playing?

I don’t know how I kept it together. It reminded me that I was doing it for more than just myself and my family. I was doing it for the country. I had broken a national record, beat my personal best and won a gold medal. It just felt good to be a part of history.

We loved seeing your whole family congratulate you on a video call after your big win, but how did you feel about them being so far away?

It sucked not being able to have them there to support me. But talking to the on video and seeing them jump up and down for me, that was great. They were so proud. It was very, very emotional for me.

Where do you display your medals? Is the gold one a bit more prominent?

[Laughs] I actually haven’t really even unpacked yet. They’re still in my backpack. I haven’t had the energy. The kids are all home, so I’ve just been soaking up the time with them.

© Provided by Hello! Photo: © Andrew Soule. Styling: Pierre-Olivier Allard. Hair and Make-Up: Sabrina Rinaldi

Let’s talk about your style. How do you dress when you’re training?

My style is very unique to me. I like to switch it up a lot. I usually can’t wait to break out of my sportswear gear and dress up in a suit with a crisp blazer and dress shoes. I like to shop, too. My closet is filled with stuff I haven’t even worn yet. But the key to any style is to have the confidence to wear anything. I don’t care what people say about it.

What can you tell us about the Rise Up campaign with RW&CO?

The phrase “rise up” is really all about mental preparation. Rising up to the occasion, having resilience and being determined. All the things that I try to embody every single day in my life as well as my career. This campaign really embodies my values. RW&CO gives me the confidence to go out there and do my thing when I’m off the track.

© Provided by Hello! Photo: © Andrew Soule. Styling: Pierre-Olivier Allard. Hair and Make-Up: Sabrina Rinaldi

You mentioned mental preparation and mental health was at the forefront of important discussions at this year’s Games, more than ever before.

For sure. A lot of athletes go through crazy amounts of pressure and struggle to perform at their best. I always try to be mentally prepared for that pressure. I have my own routines that I do to get myself ready for a race. I’ve had my own battles with injuries in the past, but I just work hard to face adversity and keep pushing through. This campaign definitely came at a great time for me to remind me to continue that.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


David Amess: Murdered MP wrote in book that attacks ‘could happen to any of us'

Sir David Amess had written about how attacks on MPs could “happen to any of us” in a book published less than a year before his death. In Ayes & ... Read more »

Air Ambulance Responds After MP David Amess Stabbed in Essex

Conservative MP Sir David Amess died after being stabbed several times in Essex, England, on Friday, October 15, according to the BBC and fellow politicians, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson. ... Read more »

‘Mushroom vigilantism' fears over crackdown on New Forest pickers

The ‘Look but please don’t pick’ poster – Max Willcock/BNPS Forestry England has launched a crackdown on illegal mushroom pickers in the New Forest over fears that foragers are damaging ... Read more »

How Miss SA became less about the superficial but rather a celebration of the holistic beauty, talents and brains of women

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) Tonight, one lucky woman will go to bed as Miss South Africa 2021, taking over from the current titleholder, Shudufhadzo Musida. Miss SA 2021 ... Read more »

Ranveer Posts Steamy Selfie Of His Unreal-Looking Abs & Fans Ask ‘Baba Photoshop Kiya Hai'

© Provided by MensXP There are only a handful of things in life that have the power of making us both drool over and cry about something at the same ... Read more »

Nasa adviser quits and thousands protest at naming of telescope

Nasa’s James Webb telescope (Nasa/Chris Gunn) A Nasa advisor has quit in protest at a $10 billion telescope being named after a former administrator who oversaw a purge of gay ... Read more »

Matt Hancock has UN post withdrawn after announcing new gig advising African countries how to bounce back after Covid

MATT Hancock has seen a job offer from the UN withdrawn – after announcing on social media that he'd accepted the role. The former Health Secretary announced this week that ... Read more »

Marjorie Taylor Greene has Zoom call silenced after 'irrelevant' impeachment testimony during hearing of Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller

© Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference about the National Defense Authorization Bill at the U.S. Capitol on September 22, 2021 in Washington, ... Read more »

Xavior Harrelson: Human remains identified as missing 11-year-old boy

Human remains found in late September near Montezuma, Iowa, have been positively identified as 11-year-old Xavior Harrelson, according to the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office. © Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office Remains ... Read more »

Dale Steyn calls out Cricket SA for IPL faux pas on Instagram

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) Cape Town – Cricket South Africa shot themselves in the foot on Saturday morning when they congratulated Lungi Ngidi for winning the Indian Premier ... Read more »

Hadle Rasmus Bjuland elected as new Young Christian Democrats leader

21-year-old Hadle Rasmus Bjuland from Jæren was elected as the new leader of KRF’s Young Christian Democrats (KRFU) on Saturday. The 21-year-old was unanimously elected at the youth party’s national ... Read more »

Cruz To Undefeated Retirees: ‘Did You Not Challenge Yourself?'

Dominick Cruz isn’t sure why some fighters are stepping away from MMA with a zero in the loss column, especially if they didn’t completely test themselves throughout their careers. © ... Read more »

Bellator 268 predictions

The light heavyweight grand prix semi-finals look a little different than Bellator was expecting. © Lucas Noonan, Bellator MMA One of Anthony Johnson and Yoel Romero were supposed to be ... Read more »

NYC overdose deaths spike 36 percent, CDC data shows

The vast majority of the deaths are from opioids and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. David McGlynn New York City drug-overdose deaths have surged by 36 percent, according to new ... Read more »

College football odds, lines, bets, predictions for Week 7, 2021: Proven model backing Iowa, Ole Miss

College Football Playoff contenders will look to stave off double-digit underdogs during the Week 7 college football schedule. The Week 7 college football odds from Caesars Sportsbook list top-ranked Georgia ... Read more »

What happened to Spencer Rattler? Oklahoma QB benched for Caleb Williams can look to NFL Draft, transfer portal

One of the nation’s premier quarterbacks could start his team’s game on Saturday sitting on the bench. Spencer Rattler, once considered the Heisman front runner and a potential top-five pick ... Read more »

Tua Tagovailoa activated, questionable for Sunday

© Provided by NBC Sports Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has officially been called up from injured reserve to the active roster and appears set to start on Sunday against the ... Read more »

Ja'Marr Chase Player Prop Bets for NFL Week 6 - Cincinnati vs. Detroit

Discover player props odds, plays, and insights for Ja’Marr Chase in his Week 6 contest with the Cincinnati Bengals against the Detroit Lions. © Provided by Sports Illustrated Cincinnati Bengals ... Read more »

Russia says it pushed US destroyer from area near its waters

Russia US Warship (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service) Russia’s Defense Ministry said a Russian warship on Friday prevented a U.S. Navy destroyer from what it described as an attempt to ... Read more »

Conoce los tres actores que le han dado vida a Willy Wonka

© Proporcionado por Publimetro Instagram @maikstrange Sin duda uno de los personajes favoritos infantiles es Willy Wonka y es que tiene algo adictivo que no poseen los superhéroes y no ... Read more »

Sarah Ferguson: Geburtstagsspaß mit ihrer Tochter

Prinzessin Eugenie (31) hat ihrer Mutter Sarah Ferguson auf Instagram zu deren 62. Geburtstag gratuliert. Die Enkelin von Queen Elizabeth II. (95), die im Februar dieses Jahres ihr erstes Kind ... Read more »

VW-Chef empfängt Tesla-Chef und kündigt Gegenbesuch an

VW-Chef Herbert Diess hat den Chef des Erzrivalen Tesla, Elon Musk, überraschend als Redner zu einem Führungskräftetreffen eingeladen. Musk habe am Donnerstag per Videoschaltung auf einer VW-Tagung im österreichischen Alpbach ... Read more »

The Shows: Sunday listings for Oct. 17, 2021

MSNBC “The Sunday Show”: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) … Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) … Terry McAuliffe … Annissa Essaibi George … Joe Walsh … Benjamin Crump. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images ... Read more »

Increased traffic volume at main highways

© Provided by New Straits Times KUALA LUMPUR: Traffic at main highways recorded 4.27 million vehicles yesterday compared to 3.8 million on Thursday and Wednesday. There had been an increase ... Read more »

Air fryer Black Friday 2021 deals: From Ninja to Philips, these are the best bargains we're hoping for

Whether making chicken wings or chocolate chip cookies, this is the new kitchen necessity (iStock/The Independent) Over the past couple of years, air fryers seemed to have popped up everywhere. ... Read more »

Royals weigh in on green issues ahead of Cop26 climate conference

As the UN Cop26 climate conference approaches, members of the royal family have increasingly been weighing in on green issues. The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William have all made ... Read more »

Soccer-Never too late: Former Man City players to receive medals for 1967-68 title

FILE PHOTO: Premier League – Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur (Reuters) – Former Manchester City players Stan Horne, Paul Hince, Bobby Kennedy and the late Harry Dowd will finally be ... Read more »

Covid tests: 43,000 people given incorrect negative PCR result after ‘technical issues' at private lab

Covid tests: 43,000 people given incorrect negative PCR result after ‘technical issues’ at private lab An estimated 43,000 people in England may have received an incorrect Covid test result due ... Read more »

Victor Cruz talks Super Bowl memories, ‘perfect' Eli Manning pass, Giants legacy

Post columnist Steve Serby caught up with 2011 Big Blue Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz for some Q&A before the team celebrates the 10-year anniversary of that title. Q: Is ... Read more »

Jenifer "trop entière" dans The Voice All-Stars ? La chanteuse répond à ses détracteurs

© Capture TF1 Jenifer “trop entière” dans The Voice All-Stars ? La chanteuse répond à ses détracteurs Ce samedi 16 octobre, quelques heures avant la demi-finale de The Voice All-Stars, Jenifer ... Read more »

"Un miracle" : Kelly Rangama (Top Chef saison 8) annonce la naissance de son bébé avec un texte poignant

© Capture France ô “Un miracle” : Kelly Rangama (Top Chef saison 8) annonce la naissance de son bébé avec un texte poignant Après avoir révélé en juillet dernier qu’elle ... Read more »

Johnson & Johnson puts talc liabilities into bankruptcy, offloads debts into newly-created arm

© Provided by Zee Business Johnson & Johnson on Thursday put into bankruptcy tens of thousands of legal claims alleging its Baby Powder and other talc-based products caused cancer, offloading ... Read more »

Los Angeles hosts Minnesota after Kopitar's 3-goal game

Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings Los Angeles; Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EDT FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Kings +104, Wild -126; over/under is 5.5 BOTTOM LINE: Los Angeles hosts the Minnesota Wild ... Read more »

Penguins to host Blackhawks on Saturday

Chicago Blackhawks (0-1-1, fourth in the Central) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (1-0-1, first in the Metropolitan) Pittsburgh; Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Penguins -173, Blackhawks +144; over/under is 6 ... Read more »

Biden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper

Surprising no one, the presidential commission studying potential U.S. Supreme Court reform measures has issued a draft report that stopped short of any recommendation to turn the nation’s highest court ... Read more »

Deadly stabbing leaves U.K. reeling from another attack on vulnerable lawmakers

Britain was reeling Saturday from the killing of a veteran lawmaker in a public stabbing that sparked a terrorism investigation and renewed calls to address politicians’ safety. The attack on ... Read more »

Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction in January 6 Capitol riot

Washington — A Capitol Police officer has been arrested and charged with obstructing the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the building he had sworn an oath ... Read more »

Dubai Diaries: Can your stomping ground stand the test of time?

© Provided by Khaleej Times Dubai Diaries: Can your stomping ground stand the test of time? If the year was 2019 and the day was Wednesday, you would’ve found me ... Read more »

UAE says British man arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis oil has right of appeal

© Provided by The National View of the Dubai Public Prosecution building. The UAE has denied unfair treatment allegations concerning the arrest of a British man found in possession of ... Read more »

The Absolute Worst Foods You Can Eat, Says New Report

© Provided by Eat This, Not That! Woman reading ingredients and nutrition information on juice bottle’s label. Be honest with yourself—how many times have you looked at a packaged food ... Read more »