Road To The Olympic Games

De Grasse not ready to dominate Diamond League, says BBC commentator

British track great Steve Cram told CBC Sports he hasn’t seen "anything" to suggest Andre De Grasse would live up to the hype from his three-medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics and become the heir apparent to retired sprinter Usain Bolt.

British track great-turned analyst Steve Cram says Canadian sprinter has 'ways to go'

Canada’s Andre De Grasse clocked 20.46 seconds to finish sixth in the men's 200 at Friday's season-opening Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar. "He wasn’t great out of the [starting] blocks and he was three, four metres [behind] off the curve. He was never in the race," says BBC athletics commentator Steve Cram. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Steve Cram says he would "love to be proven wrong" about Andre De Grasse.

The British track great told CBC Sports he hasn't seen "anything" to suggest De Grasse would live up to the hype from his three-medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics and become the heir apparent to retired sprinter Usain Bolt, an eight-time Olympic champion.

A former 1,500-metre world record-holder, Cram was working as an analyst for the BBC during Friday's Diamond League season opener in Doha, Qatar. During a slow-motion replay of the end to the men's 200 metres, in which De Grasse placed sixth in the eight-man field in 20.46 seconds, Cram said: "De Grasse … almost last. I'm not sure he's the future of this [event]."

American Noah Lyles ran a meet record 19.83 seconds in the 200m race at the Diamond League meet in Doha. Brown finished fourth, while De Grasse was sixth. 6:24

Cram backed up his comments on Monday, saying the 23-year-old Canadian sprinter is going to need to run 19.50 or 19.60 if he wants to dominate the sport.

"I'm not trying to write off his career but he has a ways to go," Cram said. "He's a good runner, a great runner, but one of a bunch."

Noah Lyles, last year's Diamond League champion, won Friday's race in a personal-best 19.83 to break fellow American Ameer Webb's meet record of 19.85, set on May 6, 2016. Reigning Commonwealth Games 200 champion Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago was second in 19.99, making his Diamond League debut nine months after capturing a bronze medal at the world track and field championships.

9-month injury recovery

"This is an incredible year [so far] for 200-metre running when you look at what the likes of Clarence Munyai have already done [running 19.69 in March to break Wayde van Niekirk's South African record] and now Lyles. All these new names, young athletes producing times under 20 seconds, have huge potential."

He wasn't great out of the [starting] blocks and he was three, four metres [behind] off the curve. He was never in the race.— BBC athletics commentator Steve Cram on Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse's 200-metre effort at Diamond League Doha

De Grasse said he got "pretty tight" at 150 metres of Friday's race, his season debut in the 200 after spending nine months recovering from a strained right hamstring.

"These guys came out blazing hot. They came out prepared and ready," said De Grasse, who clocked 10.15 a week earlier in the 100 at the Drake Relays. "I'm just trying to get race sharp and it's going to take me a couple of races to do that."

Cram said athletes need to be prepared to run when they arrive at a Diamond League event and wondered if De Grasse "misjudged things" in his training leading up to Doha.

Time to improve, build confidence

"If you look at his race [in Doha] he wasn't great out of the [starting] blocks and he was three, four metres [behind] off the curve," said Cram, a silver medallist at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. "If you're having to catch up [to the leaders] you do tighten up. He was never in the race and it's hard to come back from that."

Cram also noted it's early in the season, leaving the 23-year-old from Markham, Ont., plenty of time to build confidence and improve his performance.

"He doesn't need to be winning [right now]," Cram said of De Grasse. "He's probably delighted just to be healthy and racing."

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:

  • Shanghai (May 12, 7 a.m. ET)
  • Eugene – Prefontaine Classic (May 26, 4 p.m. ET)
  • Rome (May 31, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Oslo (June 7, 2 p.m. ET) 
  • Stockholm (June 10, 10 a.m. ET)
  • Paris (June 30, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Lausanne (July 5, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Rabat (July 13, 1 p.m. ET)
  • Monaco (July 20, 2 p.m. ET)
  • London (July 21-22, 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m.)
  • Birmingham (Aug. 18, 3 p.m. ET)
  • Zurich (Aug. 30, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Brussels (Aug. 31, 2 p.m. ET) 

About the Author

Doug Harrison

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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