Christian Coleman pulls out of Diamond League event, delays 100m showdown with De Grasse
Young sprint stars were set to battle at Saturday's Diamond League meet in Shanghai
Sprint fans will have to wait a little longer, perhaps until late July, for Andre De Grasse and Christian Coleman to battle on the track.
Coleman, who won a silver medal in the 100 metres at the 2017 world track and field championships, has a hamstring injury, according to Diamond League officials, that has forced him to pull out of the event in Shanghai this Saturday (CBCSports.ca, 7 a.m. ET).
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It would have marked the first showdown between two of the sport's young stars since 2015 when De Grasse clocked 9.98 seconds in the 100 semifinal to finish second in a field of 21 at the NCAA Division I outdoor track and field championships. Coleman, then a freshman at the University of Tennessee, was 15th that day in 10.19 and didn't qualify for the final.
But the 22-year-old Atlanta native has made big strides and impressed Canada's Donovan Bailey, the 100 champion at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
"He's young and fearless," Bailey, now a CBC Sports track analyst, said of Coleman, who ran 6.34 seconds in mid-February at the U.S. indoor national championships to shatter 2000 Olympic champion Maurice Greene's 20-year-old world indoor 60 record.
Coleman was thought to have broken the mark with a 6.37 effort at January's Clemson Invitational in South Carolina but it wasn't ratified due to the lack of electronic starting blocks and on-site drug testing.
"He's definitely a big-race athlete who shows up and wants to win," Bailey added. "Fundamentally, he's what I would want any track athlete to be."
The five-foot-nine Coleman, considered by many as America's next great sprinter, was to make his Diamond League debut in Shanghai and is the only man other than 2018 world champion Justin Gatlin to win collegiate titles in the 60 and 200 indoors and 100 and 200 outdoors the same year.
De Grasse and Coleman have also committed to race the 100 at the Müller Anniversary Games in London, England, on July 21-22.
Not yet in peak form
The 23-year-old De Grasse has raced twice since straining his right hamstring last August during the week leading into worlds.
On Friday, the Markham, Ont., runner stopped the clock in 20.46 seconds in the 200 to place sixth in an eight-man field at the season-opening Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, one week after clocking 10.15 in the 100 at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.
Similar to the Drake Relays, De Grasse wasn't in top shape since he last competed in the 200 last July at Diamond League Rabat in Morocco.
"A lot of things could be in play here," said CBC Sports analyst Anson Henry of De Grasse. "He just competed a few days ago, and since he was off for so long, he may not be recovering from competition as quickly as usual. Plus his time of 20.46 is still an Olympic and world championship A standard.
"His comeback will be a process. He's never been injured like this before, and it's difficult to comeback for anyone, so it will take him a few races to find himself again both physically and mentally. There shouldn't be any panic in his camp at this point."