Andre De Grasse lost more than a final showdown with Usain Bolt
Canadian sprinter was on pace to eclipse 3-medal effort at Rio Olympics
The news was devastating.
When word broke Wednesday that Andre De Grasse would miss the world track and field championships in London due to a hamstring injury, fans around the globe were robbed of one final duel between the Canadian sprint star and Olympic icon Usain Bolt.
De Grasse will now have to skip the rest of the track season, including three more Diamond League events.
"We tried to do everything we could to have him ready, but he's just not going to be ready," said De Grasse's manager Paul Doyle. "Further MRI results showed it's probably going to be another four to six weeks before he's fully recovered."
De Grasse's injury will cost Canada dearly from an overall medal perspective.
The Markham, Ont., native was on pace for a performance that could've eclipsed his three-medal effort at the Rio Olympics, something he desperately wanted to achieve.
No showdown with Bolt
The world won't get a chance to see a dramatic showdown between Bolt and De Grasse. For months, the 22-year-old has been pointing to his confrontation with Bolt in the 100 metres as his main motivation for racing at the world championships. He told CBC Sports reporter Jamie Strashin that beating Bolt was possible and becoming the world's fastest man "would mean everything to me."
"I want to beat him before he retires, so if I could do that it would mean a lot," De Grasse said.
Even if De Grasse had failed in his attempt to beat Bolt, upgrading his bronze-medal performance in Rio to a silver in London was a real possibility.
"To not have this opportunity is unimaginable to me, but it is the reality I am faced with," said De Grasse.
Among gold-medal favourites in 200
Yet with all the talk about beating Bolt, it's the 200 metres where the Canadian had the best medal chances. After Bolt declared he wouldn't compete in the 200, De Grasse was viewed as one of the favourites to win gold, with South African Wayde Van Niekerk being his biggest threat.
De Grasse still believes he could have beaten Bolt in the 200 at Rio. The times for both men — Bolt ran in 19.78 seconds and De Grasse crossed the line at 19.80 — suggest the Canadian had a chance to unseat the legend if not for a couple of errors.
"I've watched that a lot, because that's the one I felt I could have won," De Grasse told CBC Sports. "So I keep watching it to see what I did wrong, what mistakes I made so I can learn for the future."
Relay team in peril
De Grasse's injury also affects the men's 4x100-metre relay. Canada's anchor, along with Akeem Haynes, Aaron Brown and Brendon Rodney captured the Olympic bronze in Rio after the Americans were disqualified for an illegal baton exchange. Now with De Grasse out, the Canadian men may not even qualify for the final in London.
On the Diamond League front, De Grasse was having a terrific season, including a stunning, wind-aided 9.69 effort in the 100 at a race in Stockholm. He's won four faces in total — two in the 100 and two in the 200 — with three more events remaining on the calendar. He current leads the standings in the 100, and is second in the 200.
But with his season lost, De Grasse won't get a chance to earn a bonus of $50,000 US — the prize money awarded to the overall winner of each discipline.
"There's two things you can do when you have a hamstring injury leading up to a major championship and you're a [potential] medallist," Olympic and world 100 champion Donovan Bailey told CBC Sports. "You can be sad and bitter, or this is something that could motivate you incredibly for the next time you have the opportunity, and I know for a fact that Andre takes the latter."