Track and Field

Andre De Grasse suffers apparent hamstring injury at nationals in 200m semifinals

Andre De Grasse, whose 100-metre title reign at the Canadian track and field championships ended on Friday night, won’t be part of the men’s 200 final in Ottawa on Saturday (CBCSports.ca, 6:20 p.m. ET) after suffering an apparent hamstring injury in his semifinal heat.

Sprinter, who will get MRI on Sunday, hopeful he was slowed by cramping

Andre De Grasse's track season is over after the 23-year-old sprinter suffered a second right hamstring injury in less than a year during Saturday's 200-metre semifinals at the Canadian track and field championships in Ottawa. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Andre De Grasse, whose 100-metre title reign at the Canadian track and field championships ended on Friday night, won't be part of the men's 200 final in Ottawa on Saturday.

The 2016 Olympic triple medallist was in the lead on the straightaway in his afternoon semifinal heat when he pulled up at Terry Fox Stadium after reportedly feeling a "little grab" in his right hamstring. De Grasse, who is hopeful it was only cramping, will have a MRI on Sunday.

Last August, the 23-year-old was forced to withdraw from the world championships after straining his right hamstring in a training run. De Grasse put on a brave face Saturday, waving to the crowd and clapping his hands after walking across the finish line.

"I think I ran a good 150 and then all of a sudden it just surprised me," said De Grasse, who reportedly was walking without much of a limp within one hour of his heat race after receiving treatment at the stadium. "But hopefully I can come back from it, find out a little bit more information [Sunday]."

De Grasse believed a victory was in reach in the 200. Instead, Aaron Brown continued his stellar season with a victory in the event, clocking in at 20.17 seconds.

"Yeah, it's a little bit [frustrating]," De Grasse said. "I felt like I was about to run a fast time, I felt pretty good in the warmup, and then all of a sudden that happened. But it's part of the game, you win some you lose some, and you've just got to take your losses and come back strong and try to make the best of it."

De Grasse noted that Friday's two rounds of the 100 might have been a factor in being slowed in Saturday's 200 semi.

"It's probably my first time since last year kind of doubling up and running races back to back like that, so maybe it could have had a little bit of an effect," he said.

Stu McMillan, De Grasse's coach, echoed that sentiment.

"I thought he battled really well in the 100 final, and he put a lot of effort into that, and I think the velocity that he put his body through obviously affected what was going on today," McMillan said. "He almost certainly hadn't ran that fast in a long time. That's a pretty significant load on your system."

De Grasse sat out the Commonwealth Games in April before returning from a nine-month absence later that month at Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, where De Grasse ran 10.15 in the 100. In his 200 season debut, the Markham, Ont., runner clocked 20.46 at the season-opening Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, on May 4.

Brown crowned 100 champion

A week later, De Grasse finished last in the 100 (10.25) at Diamond League Shanghai before taking a six-week break. He returned to the track last week at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Burnaby, B.C., where 2018 Canadian 100 champion Aaron Brown ran 10.21 to De Grasse's 10.36.

On Friday night, Brown became the first sprinter in four years not named De Grasse to win the 100 at nationals, stopping the clock in 10.16 and beating Bismark Boateng by 1-1000th of a second for the title. De Grasse crossed the line third in 10.20.

De Grasse had barely qualified for the final after finishing third in his semifinal in 10.36.

He said his time in the final was a positive result on a disappointing season, which could be threatened by a potential serious injury. But the sprinter isn't the only high profile Canadian track athlete having issues in 2018.

High jumper Derek Drouin won't compete this season because of a bulging disc in his neck, while pole vaulter Alysha Newman missed nationals with a partly torn patellar tendon. Melissa Bishop, a world silver medallist in the 800 metres, took the season off to have a baby. Her daughter Corinne was born Monday.

Brown and Gavin Smellie, who placed fifth in Friday's 100, will be the notable participants in the 200 final along with their relay teammate, Brendon Rodney. Smellie qualified first in 20.62, 4-100ths of a second ahead of Brown whille Rodney earned the eighth and final spot in 20.97.

Stafford sisters, Sifuentes to clash in 1,500 final

Sisters Gabriela and Lucia Stafford will go head-to-head in Sunday's 1,500 final at 12:25 p.m.

Gabriela, the 2016 Olympian, qualified second in 4:17.67 on Saturday, one month after placing second in 4:05.83 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville. The 22-year-old University of Toronto psychology major has a personal best of 4:03.55, set in Berlin last August.

Lucia, 19, is a second-year engineering student at U of T who posted a 4:09.17 PB in Nashville.

In January 2017, she established the Canadian indoor U20 1,000 record, running 2:46.71 at the Can Am Classic at the University of Windsor (Ont.) to shatter Emma Galbraith's previous mark of 2:46.89 from 2013.

Nicole Sifuentes is also someone to watch in the 1,500 final after the Winnipeg native qualified third in 4:16.85. Her season best is 4:07.32 in Nashville. At worlds last year, the 32-year-old finished ninth in her semifinal in 4:07.92 and has a PB of 4:03.97.

Philibert-Thiboutot, Bellemore rule men's qualifier

Corey Bellemore's impressive 2018 season continued Saturday afternoon when he qualified second in three minutes 53.15 seconds for Sunday's 1,500 final at 12:40 p.m. Quebec City's Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, a 2016 Olympian, was the top qualifier in 3:46.81.

Bellemore, 23, set a personal-best time of 3:40.10  three weeks ago at the London 1,500m Night. Last week, the University of Windsor middle-distance runner crossed the line second (3:41.84) at the Harry Jerome Classic.

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

With files from Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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