Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

Despite Coleman's withdrawal, De Grasse must maintain top form at Diamond League

Andre De Grasse must keep focus even with the absence of Christian Coleman, who pulled out of the 100-metre race Friday ahead of the Müller Grand Prix Diamond League track and field event on Sunday in Birmingham, U.K. (CBCSports.ca, 9 a.m. ET).

Canadian still faces stiff competition at Birmingham event

Canada's Andre De Grasse finished ahead of Christian Coleman of the United States to win the 200 metres at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet on June 20. This Sunday in Birmingham, U.K., their head-to-head 100m showdown was scuffled when Coleman pulled out with injury. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)

Burst out of the starting blocks and stay tall in the middle of the race.

That's the advice of 1996 Canadian Olympic 100-metre champion Donovan Bailey to Andre De Grasse, whose scheduled showdown with Christian Coleman was nixed when the latter pulled out of the 100-metre race Friday ahead of the Müller Grand Prix Diamond League track and field event on Sunday in Birmingham, U.K. (CBCSports.ca, 9 a.m. ET).

Sunday's race would've marked the first head-to-head meeting between the two in the 100 since the 2015 NCAA championships when De Grasse won the 100 and 200 in Eugene, Ore. Coleman — then a University of Tennessee freshman — failed to qualify for the 100 final.

De Grasse has Coleman's number to this point, also passing him in the final 10 metres of the 200 on a wet track to clock a season-best 19.91 two months ago at the 58th Golden Spike in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Coleman was second in 19.97.

However, Coleman withdrew from the upcoming Diamond League event "as a result of complications occurring after practice this week."

"I must limit my competition schedule going forward," said Coleman. "Being totally prepared to compete in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay at world championships has to be my primary goal."

Plenty of competition

Still, De Grasse will have plenty of competition.

Sunday's two semifinal heats at Alexander Stadium, scheduled for 8:46 a.m. ET and 8:55 a.m., ET feature five of the world's top 10 runners in the 100 this season, including No. 4 Akani Simbine of South Africa, American Michael Rodgers (No. 5), eighth-ranked Bingtian Su of China and Jamaica's Yohan Blake at No. 9. The final is slated for 10:32 a.m.

The 25-year-old Simbine, who has gradually lowered his time from 10.13 since early July and boasts a season-best 9.93, is second to Coleman in the Diamond League standings.

WATCH | Andre De Grasse's comeback from two hamstring injuries:

Follow three-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse's road to recovery, after tearing his hamstring days before the 2017 World Championships. 5:34
De Grasse continues to work at getting better positioned coming out of the blocks. American Rana Reider, his new coach, told CBC Sports a month ago that the sprinter's start this season isn't what it was in 2016 when De Grasse ran healthy and was a triple Olympic medallist in Rio.

"When you have an injury, especially to the hamstring, it becomes a mental issue," Bailey says. "You have to trust and believe that when you come out of the blocks that you can put [a lot of] torque on the hamstring, your hips, quads, wherever. Andre just has to get comfortable with loading out of the blocks again."

De Grasse, 24, is returning from a pair of strained right hamstring injuries each of the past two years to reach the podium in nine of his 10 combined 100 and 200 races this season. On July 26, his 9.98 effort in the 100 semifinal at the Canadian championships in Montreal was a season best. De Grasse followed with a 10.03 in the final later in the day, placing second to Toronto's Aaron Brown in a photo finish.

WATCH | Aaron Brown defends Canadian 100m title, beating De Grasse:

Aaron Brown edged Andre De Grasse in a photo finish to capture his second consecutive 100-metre title at the Canadian track and field championships. 0:21

In May, he gained an early edge on Noah Lyles in the 100 at a Diamond League meet in Shanghai, only to be caught late by his American teammate with a larger stride who prevailed in a photo finish after both men crossed the line in 9.86.

"We'll see what kind of top speed Andre has," says Bailey, noting De Grasse's ability to stay relaxed at 50 metres gives him the better chance to have a more complete race.

WATCH | Andre De Grasse breaks down the 100 metres:

The 100m seems to go by in a flash, but 3-time Olympic medallist walks you through all of the different things that can happen within only 10 seconds or less on the track. 2:18

Other Canadians competing in Birmingham:

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, Millicent Fawcett Mile (10:41 a.m. ET): The Toronto native will compete in the annual one-mile race for women named in honour of the political leader who was instrumental in securing the right to vote for British women in 1918.

DeBues-Stafford, 23, won the Canadian 1,500 metres for a fourth straight year on July 28, two weeks after setting a personal-best in the mile (4:17.87) at Monaco. On July 20, DeBues-Stafford set a national record of 4:00.26 in the 1,500 in London, her third Canadian mark in a 52-day span. DeBues-Stafford, who now lives in Scotland, was 11th of 13 finishers in 4:07.51 last year in Birmingham.

WATCH | Gabriela DeBues-Stafford adds to her list of Canadian records:

Canada's Gabriela DeBues-Stafford finishes 3rd at Muller Anniversary Games with a time of 4:00.26. 6:30
Geneviève Lalonde, women's 3,000 steeplechase (9:55 a.m. ET): The Moncton, N.B., native continued a solid season last weekend in Lima, where the 27-year-old clocked a Pan Am-record time of nine minutes 41.45 seconds to win for the third time in four races in 2019. Two weeks earlier, Lalonde won her third consecutive Canadian title in 9:34.85. Earlier this year, the 2018 Canadian cross-country champion placed 20th at the world event in Denmark. Her season- and personal-best is 9.29.82.

WATCH | Canada's Geneviève Lalonde rules steeplechase at Pan Am Games:

Genevieve Lalonde won the gold medal in the women's 3,000-metre steeplechase, setting a Pan American Games record in the process. 0:29
Alysha Newman, women's pole vault (8:07 a.m. ET): She broke her own Canadian record for the second time in the last two months with a 4.77-metre clearance at the Stabhochsprung Jockgrim meet in Germany but dipped to 4.65, 4.56 and 4.55 in three subsequent meets. Newman's latest effort was good enough for a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Lima. Two years ago in Birmingham, she cleared 4.51 to finish eighth.

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, all times ET:

  • Birmingham, U.K. (Sunday, 9–11 a.m.)
  • Paris (Aug. 24, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Zurich (Aug. 29, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Brussels (Sept. 7, 2–4 p.m.)

About the Author

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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