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De Grasse grows into Olympic mix

By MURRAY GREIG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-04 09:52
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Andre De Grasse of the United States competes in the 100 meter during the Weltklasse Zurich Inspiration Games at IMG Academy on July 09, 2020 in Bradenton, Florida. [Photo/Agencies]

Canadian 'among five favorites' for 100-meter gold

Andre De Grasse is primed to shift into overdrive.

With reigning world 100-meter champion Christian Coleman of the US unlikely to race in next year's Tokyo Olympics because of a two-year ban for doping violations, Canada's De Grasse finds himself in the conversation of potential favorites to win the showcase sprint.

Fellow Canadian and 1996 Atlanta Games double gold medalist (100m, 4x100 relay) Donovan Bailey thinks De Grasse has a legitimate shot.

"It's a toss-up," Bailey told CBC Sports on the weekend. "There are easily five men that could be the No 1 guy in Tokyo and Andre's definitely right in the mix. It's now a very level playing field.

"One of the things Andre has shown is he's getting all of his confidence back. He's got a little swagger and he's certainly not afraid of anyone. His speed endurance has always been pretty good and he tends to relax the longer a race is. You have to have a level of confidence if you're going to compete in the 100 meters."

De Grasse, 25, reached the podium in six of eight 100m races on the professional Diamond League circuit last season and the last of his four sub-10-second performances earned him a bronze medal at the world championships in Doha, Qatar.

De Grasse's personal best of 9.90, behind Coleman (9.76) and Justin Gatlin (9.89), was his fastest since clocking 9.91 for a third-place finish in the final at the 2016 Rio Games, where he became the first Canadian athlete to win Olympic medals in the 100 (bronze), 200(silver) and 4x100 relay (bronze).

Five different sprinters prevailed across the eight Diamond League meets in 2019, and 10 reached the podium, indicating the path to Olympic gold in Tokyo is wide open after retired Jamaican legend Usain Bolt won three in row.

De Grasse currently ranks sixth in the world in the 100 and third in the 200.

"He has to stay healthy and be consistent when he is racing," Bailey said of De Grasse. "You can't worry about who is or isn't in the next lane. The goal is to get in (the Olympic final) and run your own race.

"All Andre can do is get prepared for anything and everything. He's not afraid of the big stage and he seems to be getting more technically sound as he gets older."

Meanwhile, World Athletics, the global governing body of track and field, will stage its annual awards ceremony online on Dec 5.

"The year's finest athletics achievements will be celebrated at a virtual event and streamed live on the World Athletics YouTube channel," the organization's media office stated on the weekend.

"The ceremony will recognize exceptional achievement in what has been an extraordinary and unprecedented year, both on and off the fields of play, and celebrate the athletes who met the challenges of 2020 head on to produce some of the finest performances in the history of our sport."

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe added: "In a disruptive year our athletes continued to train hard and our event organizers went above and beyond to deliver four full Diamond League events and four Diamond League exhibition meetings, seven Continental Tour Gold events, a World Half Marathon Championships and a number of innovative virtual events, including the Ultimate Garden Clash."

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