Canada Question
De Grasse looks to get season back on track at Bislett Games after sensational Olympics

De Grasse looks to get season back on track at Bislett Games after sensational Olympics

De Grasse looks to get season back on track at Bislett Games after sensational Olympics

A month from the world athletics championships, some would say it’s time defending bronze medalist Andre De Grasse made a statement on the track.

Canadian fans are anxious for the sprinter to regain his Olympic form from last Aug. 1 in Tokyo that led to a second consecutive 100-metre bronze medal in a personal-best 9.89 seconds. De Grasse hasn’t run under 10 seconds in his past four races dating to the Diamond League Final on Sept. 9 in Zurich, where he clocked 9.89 to place second.

“The heights of Tokyo haven’t been maintained so far,” Diamond League commentator/analyst Chris Dennis said this week before traveling to France to work the Meeting de Paris competition on Saturday. “He’s gotta start putting in a sub-10 performance, and maybe start getting in the top-two of these races.

“Otherwise, it feels he’s leaving it late to run himself into some sort of form at world championships [in Eugene, Ore.] where you know the field is going to be stacked.”

De Grasse will race the 100 for only the fourth time this season on Thursday at 2:39 pm ET at the Bislett Games Diamond League event in Oslo, Norway.

Former African record holder Akani Simbine (9.84 PB) and Reece Prescod of Great Britain, who won in 9.93 at the Otrava Golden Spike last month in the Czech Republic, will probably provide the toughest competition. Coverage begins at 2 pm on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

The 27-year-old De Grasse opened his season in the distance on April 30 with a wind-assisted 10.07 performance near his home in Jacksonville, Fla. His Diamond League season debut followed three weeks later in Birmingham, England, where he placed fourth in 10.24, one week before De Grasse’s last-place finish in 10.21 as part of a loaded nine-man field at the Prefontaine Classic.

WATCH | De Grasse 4th in 10.24 seconds in Birmingham, England:

Aaron Brown wins the Diamond League 100m in 10.13 seconds

The Canadian sprinter topped the podium ahead of countrymen Jerome Blake and Andre De Grasse, who finished third and fourth respectively.

Dennis noted there weren’t any technical issues with the runner’s effort at the Muller Birmingham competition “and I couldn’t even say he looked particularly lethargic. Like a lot of people, I was surprised with the result but after the race he said he feels fine.”

Eyebrows raised at Prefontaine Classic

Dennis agreed De Grasse placing ninth at Pre Classic would raise eyebrows “but if he comes fourth in that loaded field, I would have thought it was a decent performance.”

WATCH | Bromell tops Pre Classic field, De Grasse last:

Trayvon Bromell finishes 1st, Andre De Grasse comes last in men’s 100m

The Markham, Ont. native ended with a time of 10.21 at the World Athletics Diamond League competition in Eugene, Ore.

Trayvon Bromell, who struggled in the Olympic heats and missed the final, won in 9.93 on the Hayward Field track in Oregon ahead of American teammate Fred Kerley (9.98). Even teenagers Letsile Tebogo (10.12) and Erriyon Knighton (10.14) finished ahead of De Grasse.

Christian Coleman was third in 10.04 as he continues working his way back following an 18-month suspension. On Sunday, the reigning world champion from the United States clocked 9.92 on at the New York Grand Prix after his first three outdoor races were above 10 seconds.

De Grasse’s slow start, on the other hand, mirrors 2021 when he was gearing up for his second Olympic appearance and didn’t run under 10 seconds in legal wind from April 30 to July 13. The Markham, Ont., then stepped it up in Tokyo in the heats (9.91), and semifinals (9.98).

Dennis wondered if the time needed to come down from the high of his Olympic achievement is among the reasons for De Grasse’s finishing times this season. He brought home three medals for the second straight Olympics, winning gold for the first time in the 200 and earning bronze in the men’s 100 relay that was recently upgraded to silver.

“He’s been open about taking a long, well-deserved rest after Tokyo and did some commercial and sponsor-related opportunities that came with being an Olympic champion,” said Dennis of De Grasse, a parent of three kids who also manages a charitable foundation and last summer released Race With Me!, a motivational picture book he wrote for kids.

All he needs to do is run 9.9-something and [finish] top-two or three and he’ll show he’s moving in the right direction.— Diamond League commentator Chris Dennis on Andre De Grasse’s upcoming 100-metre run Thursday in Oslo

“Having fun and relaxing has been a common theme in his interviews. It may be he just started his season slightly later than [previous years].”

De Grasse’s partner, American hurdler Nia Ali, has been competing regularly this season and could be a reason he has kept his race schedule to a minimum (De Grasse had raced six times last season through mid-June).

“I’m not saying he has to go sub-10 in Oslo,” Dennis said, “but if it’s 10.20 or 10.30, it’ll be something he needs to be aware of. All he needs to do is run 9.9-something other [finish] top-two or three and he’ll show he’s moving in the right direction.

“He seems in good shape and in a good place mentally. He got rid of the label of the guy who always comes fourth or gets the silver or bronze medal. He now has [an Olympic] gold and I think psychologically that’s gotta make a difference [but] people expect big things from an Olympic champion.”

De Grasse will return to Canada and race the 100 and 200 against three-time defending champion Aaron Brown at the June 23-26 national championships in Langley, BC, Athletics Canada has confirmed to CBC Sports. De Grasse last won the sprint double in 2017 in Ottawa.

WATCH | ‘Mental preparedness, hip speed’ makes De Grasse fast:

What makes Andre De Grasse so almost?

Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert breaks down the physical and mental abilities that make Andre De Grasse Canada’s fastest man.

Mitton excited for Diamond League debut

The other Canadian competing at Bislett Stadium on Thursday is Sarah Mitton, the national record holder in women’s shot put, at 11:31 am ET.

The 25-year-old from Brooklyn, NS, is making her Diamond League debut, fresh off her win at the Sollentuna Grand Prix in Sweden, where Mitton threw 19.57, one centimeter off her Canadian record from May 7 in Hamilton. She has now thrown over 19 meters in eight of her past nine competitions.

“Being invited to Diamond League [meets] Sarah is always exciting and something Sarah has worked hard for,” her coach, Rich Parkinson, told CBC Sports. “They are important in Sarah’s podium pathway as she get exposure to the very best in the world, an opportunity to gain valuable world ranking points as Diamond League [events] rate higher than Continental Tour meetings, and there are financial rewards/ prize money as well.”

The Bislett Games presents a great opportunity for Mitton to earn world ranking performance points. She began this year ranked 14th under the new system and has since climbed to 12th. Parkinson expected Mitton to rise to 11th following the Sollentuna result.

Parkinson said he and Mitton “have grown” since the Olympics and become a stronger team, pointing out a seventh-place finish (19.02) at World Indoors in March provided the athlete with a boost in confidence.

“We are witnessing Sarah make history as the greatest female Canadian shot putter,” he said. “We need to carry this momentum forward through Oslo, past Canadian nationals, Stockholm Diamond League [on June 30] and the [pre-world championships event in Edmonton [July 3] towards the goal of a top-eight finish at world championships.”

The live stream of Saturday’s Meeting de Paris can be accessed at 3 pm ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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