NEWS
07/14/2017 13:44 EDT

De Grasse set for 200m in Rabat after recharge following nationals

Andre De Grasse looked as though he had just run a marathon.

The Canadian sprinter appeared to have little to offer on the track four days after crossing the finish line third in the 100 metres in a personal-best 9.91 seconds in his Olympic debut last August in Rio de Janeiro.

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"By the time it came to the 200 final, he was pretty gassed," De Grasse's coach, Stuart McMillan, recalled this week before they boarded a flight for Rabat, Morocco, site of this season's 10th Diamond League track and field meet on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).

But the Markham, Ont., runner didn't wilt, capturing silver in the 200 before running the anchor leg in the men's 4x100 relay to set a Canadian record for bronze.

This season, McMillan looked ahead in the schedule to the world championships in August when De Grasse would be sprinting six times in eight days competing in the 100, 200 and relay at London, England.

In preparation for the heavy workload, the coach lined up De Grasse to race three times in a 10-day period on a Diamond League tour through Rome, Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, where the Canadian won in a wind-aided 9.69 seconds.

"For him to come to Stockholm and still run really fast is a pretty good feeling and hopefully a good predictor of what we can see in London," McMillan said, adding the Swedish event was the first time De Grasse moved into his top gear this season.

  • How good was De Grasse's 9.69?

After sweeping the 100 and 200 at the national championships in Ottawa last weekend, De Grasse was told by McMillan "to do nothing but sleep and rest" during a three-day break in Toronto.

"We'll get Rabat out of the way and then we'll start worrying about London," the coach said. "Rest becomes more important than what we're doing on the track at this point."

However, De Grasse probably won't be as rested as hoped come race time in Rabat. His Thursday flight out of Toronto was delayed and he missed a connecting flight from Montreal to Casablanca, Morocco, according to Wilfried Meert, athletes' liaison for Rabat, where De Grasse was expected to arrive on Saturday.

It's been a busy 2017 for De Grasse and McMillan, whose objective at the outset of the season was to improve the mechanics of the sprinter's start.

"I think we've done that," McMillan said. "For the most part, Andre accelerates a lot better than he did last year. He's a little faster through his first 40 metres than last year."

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In the 200, which he'll run Sunday at 2:50 p.m. ET, De Grasse is now accelerating faster out of the starting blocks while his speed endurance has improved, according to CBC Sports track analyst Donovan Bailey.

For Sunday's race, Bailey said De Grasse's focus should be on race execution, his breathing, staying relaxed and deciding where in the race to make a move on the competition.

'He's ready for the big show'

"He only has a season best of 10.01 [in the 100] but if you look at the races he's been in, he hasn't had a real fast track against a high level of competition," McMillan said.

Added Bailey: "One of the things I liked about the fact he ran 9.69 [in Sweden] with the wind — 9.88 with no wind, according to estimated wind-altitude adjustment calculators — is that his body was capable of going that fast without injuring anything.

"One of the things Stuart will do is prepare Andre to peak in London. That's where we're going to see his best [time] this season. He's a gamer, like me, ready for the big show. That's where he shines the most."

Here's a breakdown of the other Canadians in Rabat:

Shawn Barber, men's pole vault (1:55 p.m. ET): The reigning world champion cleared 5.40 metres to win a rain-soaked pole vault competition at the Canadian championships, two days after placing eighth (5.63) in Diamond League action at Lausanne, Switzerland. The 23-year-old, who has struggled with consistency in 2017, has a season best of 5.71, set at the Prefontaine Classic at the end of May in Eugene, Ore., where he met the 5.70 world qualifying standard.

Liz Gleadle, women's javelin throw (2 p.m. ET): A week ago, the 28-year-old Vancouver native threw 60.62 metres to win the javelin at nationals in Ottawa. Two days later, Gleadle was fourth in a season-best 64.47 at London Stadium in England, narrowly missing her Canadian record of 64.83.

Brandon McBride, men's 800 (2:22 p.m. ET): The 23-year-old from Windsor, Ont., qualified for worlds in August by virtue of last Saturday's Canadian title in a season-best one minute, 45.23 seconds. At his last Diamond League meet on June 8 in Rome, McBride was sixth in a 12-man field in 1:46.69.

Diamond League on CBC Sports

CBC Sports is providing live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at CBCSports.ca and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. TV coverage will be featured as part of the network's Road To The Olympic Games weekend broadcasts throughout the season.

The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app:

  • Rabat (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Monaco (July 21, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Birmingham (Aug. 20, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Zurich (Aug. 24, 3 p.m. ET)
  • Brussels (Sept. 1, 3 p.m. ET)