Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field·Preview

Well-travelled De Grasse looks to continue strong race form

Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse will be part of a strong field in the 200 metres at the Jamaica International Invitational on Saturday that includes two-time world and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt. Race time is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. ET.

Canadian sprinter in tough against American LaShawn Merritt in 200m at Jamaica

Canada’s Andre De Grasse, fresh off a season-best 10.10-second performance in the men’s 100 metres at the Guadeloupe Invitational Meeting, will race the 200 at the Jamaica International Invitational on Saturday night. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Some much-needed rest was probably the top priority this week for sprinter Andre De Grasse ahead of the 14th staging of the Jamaica International Invitational on Saturday night in Kingston.

Following Wednesday's Guadeloupe International Meeting, where the Markham, Ont., athlete ran the 100 metres in a season-best 10.10 seconds to finish second, he boarded a plane for Jamaica with coach Stuart McMillan.

That followed a hectic schedule for De Grasse, who competed at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas and over the next few days spent time in Scottsdale, Ariz., Toronto and then flew to Qatar in the Middle East for the season-opening Diamond League meet at Doha.

Doha was billed as an Olympic rematch between the 22-year-old De Grasse and veteran Justin Gatlin, 35, of the United States. De Grasse won a bronze medal in the 100 in Rio de Janeiro last August while Gatlin was second to Usain Bolt. The Canadian also won silver in the 200.

De Grasse placed fifth at the Diamond League event with a 10.21 performance in the 100, narrowly behind Gatlin's 10.14 clocking.

"He [De Grasse] came out of the blocks well, had a great drive phase and just shut it down at probably 80 metres," said CBC Sports track analyst Donovan Bailey, who watched the race. "He could be tired. He was in Scottsdale [Arizona] and I was with him in Toronto and then he flew to Qatar, which is a long way. His race form looked fine.

"The Diamond League is professional track and field, you're paid to play and you can't win every race. Serena Williams doesn't win every tennis match but she prepares for the big [match], the one that matters. What matters for Andre is August [at the world track and field championships]."

In Kingston, De Grasse will be part of a strong field in the 200, scheduled for 10:15 p.m. ET at the National Stadium, that includes two-time world and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt of the U.S., who ran a world-best 19.74 last season. De Grasse's fastest 200 was 19.80 in Rio.

Also standing in De Grasse's way is Warren Weir, the 2013 world silver medallist, and his Jamaican teammate Nickel Ashmeade, who was fourth (20.31) in the 200 semifinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Two-time world 100 bronze medallist Asafa Powell of Jamaica won last year's 200 on home soil in 20.45. He was slated to race Saturday but withdrew on Thursday after aggravating his Achilles tendinitis at Doha Diamond League, where he ran a season-best 10.08 in finishing second to South Africa's Akani Simbine.

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