Another major blow: Andre De Grasse done for season with hamstring injury
Canadian sprinter pulled up in Saturday's 200m semifinals at national championships
Andre De Grasse, whose sprint title reign in the 100 and 200 metres at the Canadian track and field championships ended over the weekend, has had the balance of his season wiped out because of a second right hamstring injury in less than a year.
The 2016 Olympic triple medallist was in the lead on the straightaway in Saturday afternoon's semifinal heat when he pulled up at Terry Fox Stadium after cramping up 50 metres from the finish line. An MRI on Sunday revealed a Grade 1 strain in the biceps femoris — one of the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh — according to De Grasse's brand manager, Brian Levine, with Toronto-based Envision Sports & Entertainment.
Last August, De Grasse was forced to withdraw from the world championships with a more serious Grade 2 hamstring strain suffered during a training run.
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De Grasse put on a brave face Saturday, waving to the crowd and clapping his hands after walking across the finish line, and remains positive despite his recent setbacks.
"I never want to hit the track and put out a performance that is less than my best, but if it has to happen, this is the year for it to happen [without a world championship or Olympics]," De Grasse said in a statement released by Envision Sports & Entertainment.
"I was looking forward to representing Canada at 'Track & Field in the 6ix' in front of the hometown crowd at the NACAC championships [Aug. 10-12 in Toronto) but instead I will have to be there cheering for my Canadian teammates and contributing to the excitement off the track."
Away from the track, De Grasse and his longtime girlfriend, Nia Ali, gave birth to daughter Yuri on June 22.
"2018 will always be the year I look back at fondly as the year my daughter came into the world," he said. "I believe the issues I've faced these past 12 months have made me hungrier. I will heal quickly from this injury. I will go be with my daughter and focus on being a dad for the next few weeks as I heal, and I will plan to come back stronger than ever."
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De Grasse's relay teammate Aaron Brown won the 200 on Saturday night, continuing his stellar season with clocking of 20.17 seconds, one night after prevailing in the 100 final. De Grasse was third in the 100 in 10.21 after running 10.36 in his semifinal.
"Yeah, it's a little bit [frustrating]," De Grasse said. "I felt like I was about to run a fast time [in the 200 semifinal]. 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."
"Wow," is how Brown reacted when first learning of De Grasse's MRI results from CBC Sports. "Andre's injury is unfortunate news but I think he did the right thing in cutting the season short with the major championships in the coming years.
"I thought he looked pretty good in the 100 final and was getting his [pre-injury] rhythm back , but I'm confident his team will do the right things to get him back on track strong and healthy. I'm looking forward to racing him again at his best and joining up with him to do great things in future relay races. I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery."
De Grasse's absence, added Brown, means others need to step up and demonstrate Canada boasts several sprinters capable of big things on the global stage.
I thought he battled really well in the 100 final ... He almost certainly hadn't ran that fast in a long time.— Stu McMillan, Andre De Grasse's coach
De Grasse said 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. A week later, De Grasse finished last in the 100 (10.25) at Diamond League Shanghai.
On Monday, his agency pointed to a bout with mononucleosis for the sprinter's slow start this season, stating De Grasse might have been hampered by the illness since last December.
Following a six-week break after the Shanghai meet, he returned to the track in late June at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Burnaby, B.C., where Brown ran 10.21 to De Grasse's 10.36.
With files from Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press