Op­por­tu­ni­ties lost

Loss of injured De Grasse is a big blow to Cana­dian track fans, team

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY LORI EWING

World medals. One last shot at Usain Bolt. Per­haps a Cana­dian record.

A world cham­pi­onships that had held so much promise for An­dre De Grasse went up in smoke dur­ing a light 60-me­tre run on Mon­day night.

And on the eve of the open­ing round of the 100 me­tres, De Grasse’s coach Stu­art McMil­lan talked about the op­por­tu­ni­ties lost.

“I think when (the meet) ac­tu­ally gets go­ing and An­dre sees the fi­nal and sees those eight guys lin­ing up and he’s not one of them, I think that’s when it’s re­ally go­ing to hit home,” McMil­lan said Thurs­day.

But as much as the star sprinter’s with­drawal from the meet with a ham­string in­jury means per­sonal heart­break for the 22-year-old from Markham, Ont., it’s a big blow to a Cana­dian team that saw De Grasse win three of its six medals at the Rio Olympics, and for fans back home as well.

“There’s two sto­ries here: it’s Bolt’s last ma­jor cham­pi­onships, and then from a Cana­dian per­spec­tive, this was the op­por­tu­nity for a Cana­dian boy to go out there and race him and po­ten­tially beat him in his last race.

“So I think it’s go­ing to be very dis­ap­point­ing for every­body — no­body more so than An­dre.”

All signs pointed to a solid world cham­pi­onships for De Grasse. He was un­de­feated in the 100 and 200 in his last four Di­a­mond League meets. His siz­zling, al­beit wind-aided, 9.69 sec­onds in the 100 me­tres in Stock­holm hinted the Cana­dian record of 9.84, set by Donovan Bai­ley in 1996 and tied by Bruny Surin in 1999, might not be long for this world.

“We def­i­nitely didn’t see any­thing coming,” McMil­lan said of the in­jury. “We had a re­ally good camp in Monaco, went to Spain for a cou­ple of days, we had a good re­lay ses­sion in Spain, we came here on Sun­day, went to (Mile End Sta­dium) here in Lon­don on Mon­day, did four or five block starts, looked very good, every­thing was re­ally nice, fin­ished off with two very easy 60s, and in the first 60 at 40 me­tres he pulled up.”

They’d orig­i­nally sus­pected the in­jury might just be cramp­ing or tight­ness, but an ul­tra­sound Tues­day showed a tear. De Grasse’s re­cov­ery is ex­pected to take five to six weeks.

There had been plenty of hype about a Bolt ver­sus De Grasse show­down at the world cham­pi­onships,

which McMil­lan said has been wear­ing on the young Cana­dian sprinter.

“(But) in ret­ro­spect in a few weeks, when he looks back on this, this was his last op­por­tu­nity to beat Bolt, I think that’s probably go­ing to be the thing that haunts him the most,” McMil­lan said.

In one of Rio’s most mem­o­rable mo­ments, De Grasse pushed Bolt in their 200-me­tre semi­fi­nal, prompt­ing a fin­ger wag from the Ja­maican su­per­star, who’ll re­tire af­ter the world cham­pi­onships. Bolt hasn’t for­got­ten that race. When asked ear­lier this week to pre­dict the world’s next great sprinter, Bolt said “The last guy I said was go­ing to be great dis­re­spected me.”

Gen­eral con­sen­sus was he was re­fer­ring to De Grasse.

“Probably the past five to eight years, Bolt’s been used to peo­ple rolling over for him, and when An­dre didn’t do that in the semi­fi­nal in Rio last year, An­dre def­i­nitely meant no dis­re­spect by that, but I think Bolt maybe took it a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ently,” McMil­lan said. “And since then, I think the re­la­tion­ship has been slightly dif­fer­ent.

“But there’s ab­so­lutely zero dis­re­spect from An­dre to Usain, he’s got noth­ing but re­spect for him. Usain Bolt’s the best ath­lete who’s probably ever lived, and An­dre will be the first to ad­mit that.”

Look­ing long-term, McMil­lan be­lieves the in­jury will be just a small blip on De Grasse’s ca­reer.

ap pHoto

An­dre De Grasse re­acts af­ter win­ning gold in the men’s 200-me­tre race at the Cana­dian Track and Field Cham­pi­onships in Ot­tawa on July 9.

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