Harry Jerome Track Classic: Derek Drouin highlights Rio-heavy field
De Grasse, Thiesen-Eaton, Bishop, Gleadle also competing in B.C.
A happy and rested Derek Drouin is getting excited about the upcoming Rio Olympics and hopes to deliver a memorable performance for track and field fans in Burnaby, B.C. on Friday evening at the 33rd annual Harry Jerome Classic.
The Canadian high jumper and world champion was "totally shielded" from the hype of the approaching London Olympics while living in Indiana in 2012. But four years later, a more seasoned Drouin told Postmedia earlier this month he's "excited for the buildup this year."
The 26-year-old has had a quiet competition schedule since competing at the season-opening Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar in early May and is looking forward to the Harry Jerome event at Swangard Stadium (9 p.m. ET) and Victoria International Track Classic on Sunday.
Plan on watching the Olympics this summer? See Canada's Olympians compete at the <a href="https://twitter.com/Harry_Jerome">@Harry_Jerome</a> Track Classic. Info: <a href="https://t.co/NoRZX9zYqj">https://t.co/NoRZX9zYqj</a>—@cwinter3
"I'm excited to compete in Victoria for my first time," Drouin was quoted as saying in a story this week on the Victoria Sports News website. "It's a privilege for us, as Canadian athletes, to compete on Canadian soil, rather than having to fly to Europe to find great competition, especially in an Olympic year."
Drouin, who owns the Canadian high jump record of 2.40 metres, will compete at the Jerome alongside Mike Mason of Nanoose Bay, B.C. They captured gold and silver medals, respectively, at last summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Drouin went on to capture Canada's first world high jump title as the only man to clear 2.34 in Beijing, China.
In Doha, the native of Corunna, Ont., cleared 2.29 to finish fifth in a field of nine. A week earlier, Drouin won a third straight title at the Drake Relays in Iowa and is one of Canada's top medal hopes for the Rio Olympics in August.
Mason was fifth at Shanghai Diamond League in mid-May with a season-best jump of 2.20.
Here's a breakdown of the other notable Canadians competing Friday night:
Andre De Grasse
The Markham, Ont., sprinter is scheduled to race in the 100 and 200. De Grasse, 21, ran a season-best 10.07 seconds last week, the fastest time for a Canadian at a Diamond League meet this year, to win the men's 100 at the Bislett Games/Oslo Diamond League event in Norway.
Earlier this month, he won the 200 in Birmingham, England in a season-best 20.16, and is the Canadian record holder in the event after running 19.88 at the 2015 Pan Ams. Four others in Friday's 100 field have run sub-10 seconds, including Ryan Bailey of Portland, who has run 9.88 twice in his career. Kemar Hyman, a 2012 Olympian from the Cayman Islands, has a best of 9.95.
She won the women's competition at the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis, Austria for a third time in late May. The Humboldt, Sask., native set this season's best mark in the women's heptathlon in Goetzis by running a personal best of 23.33 seconds in the 200 and won one of the seven events, the long jump with a 6.56-metre effort. Her husband, Ashton Eaton, the world-record holder in the decathlon and reigning Olympic and world champion, is expected to run the 100 and compete in the high jump in Burnaby.
An 800 specialist, the Eganville, Ont., native posted a third-place finish in Birmingham, improving upon her season best time in one minute 58.48 seconds. A few days earlier in Rome, Bishop was seventh among 11 runners, clocking 1:59.97.
The Vancouver native was fifth at the recent Birmingham Diamond League with a throw of 61.00 metres, topping her 56.16 showing a few days earlier at the Golden Gala Rome competition. Gleadle will compete in Rio after placing 12th at the 2012 London Summer Games.
Evan Dunfee/Inaki Gomez/Ben Thorne
The Vancouver-based race walk trio combined with Mathieu Bilodeau to claim Canada's first-ever medal at the IAAF world championships in Rome in early May, prevailing in the men's 20-kilometre event. Thorne of Kitimat, B.C., led the Canadians with a fifth-place finish in a time of one hour 19 minutes 55 seconds, followed by Vancouver's Gomez in ninth and Dunfee of Richmond, B.C., in 16th. All four are scheduled to race Friday and will be looking to break the Canadian mark in the 5,000 of 18:45.64.
Meet honours sprinter
The Jerome meet is named after the B.C. athlete who held five world sprint records in the 1960s. He overcame a torn quadriceps muscle in 1962 to set two world marks, win Olympic bronze in 1964 and gold at the 1966 Commonwealth and 1967 Pan Am Games.