Andre De Grasse injures hamstring, will miss world championships
Injury scuttles anticipated showdown with Usain Bolt in 100 metres
Andre De Grasse won't get the chance to steal Usain Bolt's crown.
The Canadian sprint star suffered a grade 2 hamstring injury on Monday that will keep him out of the world track and field championships and deny him the opportunity to beat Bolt in the Jamaican star's final 100-metre race. The championships begin Friday in London.
"The entire year this 100-metre race in London was my focus," De Grasse said in a statement Thursday. "I am really in the best shape of my life and was looking forward to competing against the best in the world.
"To not have this opportunity is unimaginable to me but it is the reality I am faced with. I am sad to miss this chance but I am young and will be back and better than ever in the near future."
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De Grasse, 22, was working on his start Monday at London's Mile End Stadium when he felt a pop in his right hamstring, according to his agent, Paul Doyle. After ultrasound treatment in London on Tuesday, De Grasse flew to Munich Wednesday for further treatment, but the recommendation was made that he should skip the worlds.
The injury is a big blow to a Canadian team that was relying on De Grasse for medals at the worlds. He was a threat in both the 100 and 200 metres and also served as the anchor on Canada's 4x100 relay team.
The 100 heats are scheduled for Friday (CBCSports.ca, 3:20 p.m. ET), with the final on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4:45 p.m. ET). Bolt, the nearly 31-year-old Olympic champion in the 100, 200 and 4x100, has said he will retire following these world championships.
"This was his last opportunity to beat Bolt," De Grasse's coach, Stuart McMillan, told reporters on Thursday in London. "That's probably going to be the thing that haunts him the most."
But the easygoing De Grasse is taking the disappointment in stride, McMillan said.
"He's been very laid-back and very chill about it. I think when he sees the final and sees those eight guys lining up and he's not one of them, I think that's when it's really going to hit home."
Diamond League season over
McMillan said De Grasse faces "at least a five-to-six-week rehab process" and will miss the prestigious Diamond League final at the beginning of September. De Grasse leads the Diamond League standings in the 100 metres and ranks second on in the 200 metres.
"Injuries are a part of the sport, and the timing of this one is especially unfortunate," De Grasse said in a statement on his Facebook page. "While I'm in the best shape of my life and extremely disappointed that I will not have the chance to compete for my country in London, I can't forget or be ungrateful for the successes that I've been blessed with up to this point in my career."
CBC Sports analyst Anson Henry spoke with De Grasse Wednesday night after news of the injury was revealed and said the Markham, Ont., sprinter did everything he could to compete.
"He was going to try," Henry said. "He did everything he could. He made the trip over to Germany to try to find some other alternative to accelerate the process.
"He understands what he means to Canada. He understands what's expected of him and feels a sense of obligation to perform and people depend on him. He didn't want to let anyone down, but the final advice that he got was, 'Look, if you do this, you literally could ruin your career.'"
Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert said that injuries are part of the sport, but that the timing was unfortunate. "I really feel for Andre, I know he really wanted to make a mark here at the world championships," he said in a statement.
De Grasse has been tabbed a possible heir apparent to Bolt since his emergence on the track scene at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, where he won gold in both the 100 and 200. He followed that up with bronze medals in the 100 and 4x100 relay at the 2015 world championships.
De Grasse cemented his stardom with a three-medal performance at the Rio Olympics last year, winning silver in the 200 and bronze in the 100 and 4x100.
Donovan Bailey, an Olympic and world champion in the 100 and 4x100, said he understands De Grasse's frustration at not being able to compete.
"I feel for Andre, because I'm sure he'll look at this as a lost opportunity, but I'm very certain that he will use this to gather his thoughts and motivate him to come back and do some incredible things," Bailey said. "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. 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.
"I know for a fact that he's salivating, knowing he could beat most of the people if not everyone that he's competing against and just waiting for the opportunity for him to do that next year."
With files from The Canadian Press