‘He’s ready to go’: Andre De Grasse in good health, ready to compete in world championships
Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert says the country’s most decorated track and field superstar, Andre De Grasse, is in good health and expects the six-time Olympic medalist to compete in the 100 relays meters, 200 m and 4×100 m at the world championships.
De Grasse tested positive for COVID-19 a second time just two weeks ago and is slowly recovering from symptoms, including shortness of breath. This forced him to miss the national championships in Langley, BC in late June.
But despite less than ideal preparation for the world athletics championships that begin Friday in Eugene, Ore., Gilbert says the current plan is to have De Grasse compete in all three events.
There were reports that the 200m was going to be a game time decision.
WATCH | De Grasse, a key scenario at the World Championships in Athletics:
« I heard that myself, and again, I have to see what they decide to do, but as far as I know right now, he’s both running and relaying, » Gilbert told CBC Sports.
De Grasse spent about 45 minutes Thursday afternoon at a training facility near Hayward Field practicing getting out of the blocks and limbering up his body ahead of Friday night’s 100m heats. Temperatures are expected to hover around 30 degrees throughout the ten days of competition.
It’s been a difficult season so far for the 27-year-old, who has struggled with a foot injury and hasn’t performed at his best. Add to that recent fight with COVID and there are certainly questions about his ability to perform. However, that’s nothing new for De Grasse who has been questioned before important international fixtures just to excel.
Our first glimpse of Canadian track and field star Andre De Grasse during his final training session before the start of the World Championships in Athletics here tomorrow.
De Grasse tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago. Races in the 100m heats tomorrow night. @CBCOlympics pic.twitter.com/onqm7D0j3s
In fact, dating back to the 100m since De Grasse’s debut at the world championships in 2015 where he won bronze in the 100m, De Grasse has competed in seven individual events at the world championships or the Olympics and reached the podium in each of them.
« He’s always been a great player. He always shows up. He’s ready for the big show. He competes well under pressure, in fact the more pressure the better he seems to compete, » Gilbert said.
« We obviously support him and he will be ready to go. »
Ahmed and Warner return from injury
De Grasse wasn’t the only major track and field star to miss national championships for Canada. Moh Ahmed and Damian Warner were out through injury.
However, Gilbert says both athletes are also healthy and ready to go.
Ahmed, who won Canada’s first Olympic distance medal by winning silver in the 5,000m last summer in Tokyo, has been struggling with calf pain since an event in Rome in early June.
And Warner, who is the Olympic decathlon champion, is in full gear and will be looking to win his first-ever world championship gold medal.
« Good mood. Damian and his team are ready to go, » added Gilbert.
Canada is sending a team of 59 athletes to the world championships — 34 women and 25 men — who have won a total of 15 Olympic medals.
Gilbert says the team is feeling confident heading into the first-ever world championships held on American soil.
« Everyone knows what they have to do. We had a great team meeting two days ago. The athletes are focused and ready to go, » he said.
« The message I gave was why not us? Why can’t we expect to achieve personal bests, finish in the top eight and win medals? Why can’t we expect that? Our athletes have bought into that. They are calm and relaxed. »