Andre De Grasse continues to build for the world track and field championships in August, posting his second 200-metre victory of 2017 on Thursday in a season-best 20.01 seconds at the Golden Gala in Rome.
The 22-year-old Markham, Ont., runner would have run sub-20 seconds on a calm night at the Olympic Stadium had he not let up in the final metres and looked back to his right.
- De Grasse narrowly misses podium at Prefontaine Classic
- Gabriela Stafford scores win, world standard in Eugene
"This was a relaxed race for me. I wanted to come home and stay relaxed," De Grasse said. "My coach [Stuart McMillan] told me to just hit it and to bring it home well."
"Every race [for De Grasse] is a systematic build to London [and the tracks worlds in August]," CBC Sports analyst and 1996 Olympic 100 champion Donovan Bailey said earlier this week.
This was De Grasse's final 200 before the Canadian trials and worlds.
"My aim is to get three medals, like in Rio, definitely," De Grasse said. "We have a strong relay team and I also hope to win a final in London.
"Bolt is a big target for me," De Grasse added. "It's very exciting to be part of the young generation coming after Usain."
De Grasse clocked 20.14 at the Jamaica International Invitational in late May for his first 200 win of the season. His personal best is 19.80, set at the Rio Olympics last August in Brazil, where he finished second behind Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.
His Canadian relay teammates, Aaron Brown and Brendon Rodney, failed to improve upon their disappointing results at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai last month.
Brown finished fifth in the field of eight on Thursday in 20.43 after stopping the clock in a season-best 20.41 in China. Rodney, who ran 20.63 in Shanghai, was marginally better at 20.61 in Rome. But it's a far cry from last summer's Rio Olympic trials when Rodney and Brown finished 1-2 in 19.96 and 20.32.
Bailey said Thursday's race was an opportunity for the Canadian duo to establish themselves on the global circuit as individuals.
"In order for you to even be respected [by your peers] in the 200, you have to run sub-20 [seconds], not 20.60 or 20.40," he said.
Brown also competed in the men's 100 in Rome, crossing the line in 10.35 to place eighth in the nine-man field. His season best is 10.30, recorded at the Grenada Invitational in St. Georges on April 8.
Chijindu Ujah of Great Britain won in 10.02, followed by Jimmy Vicaut of France (10.05) and American Ronnie Baker (10.05), who led six men under 10 seconds in a wind-aided 9.86 at the recent Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.
Finishing second in Thursday's 200 was Christophe Lemaitre in a season-best 20.29, the Frenchman who clocked 20.12 to finish behind De Grasse in Rio for a bronze medal. Ameer Webb of the United States was third in Rome in a season-best 20.33.
Webb ran 20.04 to defeat Brown (20.24) in the 200 at last year's Golden Gala.
Stafford posts SB in 1,500
Elsewhere, middle-distance runner Gabriela Stafford of Toronto made a strong push in the final 400 metres to move from 14th to 10th in the women's 1,500, posting a season-best time of four minutes 4.87 seconds.
The 21-year-old met a world standard at the recent Prefontaine Classic, where she topped the field in 4:07.43, after running a season-best 4:08.41 the previous week at the USATF Distance Championships in Los Angeles.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands ran a world-leading and meet record 3:56.22 on Thursday. Kenya's Winny Chebet was second in 3:59.16, followed by Merat Bahta of Sweden in 4:00.59.
Treasure jumps stall at 1.88m
In women's high jump, Alyx Treasure of Prince George, B.C., cleared her first attempts at 1.80m, 1.85 and 1.88 before missing all three attempts at 1.91 to place sixth in the field of 11.
On May 6, the 2016 Olympian cleared 1.91, a season best, to win at the Ward Haylett Invitational in Kansas. Treasure, 25, finished 17th at the Rio Summer Games with a personal best 1.94.
Mariya Lasitskene cleared two metres to win Thursday's competition. Poland's Kamila Licwinko was second (1.96) and Ukraine's Yuliya Levchenko (1.94) third.
Other Canadian results:
- Brittany Crew, women's shot put: 8th of 10 - 17.51m
- Jonathan Cabral, men's 110 hurdles: 7th of 9 - 13.60 seconds
- Brandon McBride, men's 800: 6th of 12 - one minute 46.69 seconds
- Andrea Seccafien, women's 5,000: 15th of 19 – 15:20.77 (season best)
Hurdler Merritt wins after kidney transplant
For Aries Merritt, victory in the 110 hurdles marked his first Diamond League victory since a kidney transplant two years ago.
Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion from the United States, clocked 13.13 to edge Orlando Ortega of Spain by five hundredths in the hurdles sprint.
"It was a bit sloppy," Merritt said. "I made many mistakes, hit a lot of hurdles but my speed is getting better. After 2015 it was tough but I am here and I am healthy, so I just need to stay focused and the results will come."
Diamond League on CBC Sports
CBC Sports is providing live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at CBCSports.ca and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. TV coverage will be featured as part of the network's Road To The Olympic Games weekend broadcasts throughout the season.
The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app:
- Oslo (June 15, 2 p.m. ET)
- Stockholm (June 18, 2 p.m. ET)
- Paris (July 1, 2 p.m. ET)
- Lausanne (July 6, 2 p.m. ET)
- London (July 9, 9 a.m. ET)
- Rabat (July 16, 2 p.m. ET)
- Monaco (July 21, 2 p.m. ET)
- Birmingham (Aug. 20, 2 p.m. ET)
- Zurich (Aug. 24, 3 p.m. ET)
- Brussels (Sept. 1, 3 p.m. ET)