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Derek Drouin Captures Gold For Canada In High Jump

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Canada's Derek Drouin won the gold medal in the men's high jump at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday, brimming with confidence as he laid down a near-perfect performance.

Drouin didn't miss a single attempt en route to winning with a season-best jump of 2.38 metres.

The reigning world champion from Corunna, Ont., won medal No. 14 for Canada.

Mutaz Barshim of Qatar won silver at 2.36 and Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko claimed bronze at 2.33.

Bondarenko's risky strategy didn't pay off. He passed at 2.29 and 2.36 metres and tried to put pressure on Drouin at 2.38.

derek drouin
Canada's Derek Drouin celebrates winning the Men's High Jump Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 16, 2016. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE

But Drouin cleared his first attempt at that height and Bondarenko missed his first two. He then took his last attempt at 2.40 and missed, giving Drouin his second Olympic medal. Drouin won bronze at the 2012 London Games.

"It feels pretty sweet," Drouin said. "There have been some sacrifices but I've always prided myself on my mental toughness. My family were in the front row. Mom was in tears and Pop was so proud."

After taking a single run at 2.40 and missing, in an attempt to break the Olympic record of 2.39, an emotional Drouin help up the Canadian flag, tearing up as he faced his parents and his sisters in the stands.

Drouin is Canada's first Olympic high jump champion since Duncan McNaughton at the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

derek drouin
Derek Drouin competes in the men's high jump final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Aug. 16, 2016. (Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

It's Canada's third track and field medal in Rio. Brianne Theisen-Eaton won bronze in the heptathlon, while Andre De Grasse raced to bronze in the 100.

The 26-year-old Drouin, whose bronze was Canada's only track and field medal four years ago in London, was silky smooth all night, clearing

Theisen-Eaton and decathlete Damian Warner have often talked about how Drouin's performance in London inspired them to reach for the podium.

Drouin arrived in Rio in top form. He jumped 2.38 metres in his last meet before the Olympics, in Germany, the second best jump of his career, and just shy of his Canadian record of 2.40.

Meanwhile, De Grasse is on pace for a second sprint medal at the Rio Olympics, cruising into the semifinals of the men's 200 metres earlier Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Markham, Ont., runner, who won a bronze in the 100 metres on Sunday night, was first in his heat in 20.09 seconds, the best time of the day.

Two-time defending champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica, the gold medallist in the 100, won his heat in 20.28, though he admitted he wasn't working very hard.

"It's the morning session and I'm not really a morning person," he said. "I see a lot of the young guys trying to run fast in the heat but for me it is important to win to qualify. I didn't really run that hard out there."

The semifinals are Wednesday with the final set for Thursday night.

The top two in each heat advanced along with the four next fastest times.

Toronto's Aaron Brown and Brendon Rodney of Brampton, Ont., were both third in their heats and had to wait to see if they would advance. Brown's 20:23 made the cut while Rodney's 20.34 wasn't enough.

De Grasse's 100-metre bronze on Sunday was Canada's first medal in the storied event since 1996. Bolt won gold in 9.81 while De Grasse finished in a personal-best time of 9.91 seconds.

De Grasse won double gold in the 100 and 200 at last summer's Pan American Games, and double bronze at the world championships.

After the 200, De Grasse will complete the triple in Rio as part of Canada's 4x100-metre relay.

In other preliminary action Tuesday, Nathan Brannen of Cambridge, Ont., and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Quebec City both advanced to the semifinals in the men's 1,500, while Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont., and Phylicia George of Markham moved on to the semifinals in the women's 100-metre hurdles. Angela Whyte of Edmonton failed to advance.

Toronto's Kelsie Ahbe earned a spot in the women's pole vault final, while Alysha Newman of London, Ont., and Anicka Newell of Toronto were both eliminated.

Calgary's Jessica O'Connell and Andrea Seccafien of Guelph, Ont., both failed to qualify in the women's 5,000.

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Canadian Medallists at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
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