Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Derek Drouin Wins Gold in High Jump to Cap Canada's Best Ever World Showing

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Derek Drouin Wins Gold in High Jump to Cap Canada's Best Ever World Showing

Article excerpt

Canada's Drouin wins gold in high jump

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BEIJING, China - In the days leading up to the world track and field championships, Derek Drouin played the words over and over in his head, like a song on repeat: You can win this.

And when the competition got tense Sunday night, and seemingly the entire Bird's Nest stadium was pulling for Chinese hero Zhang Guowei, Drouin said them again.

The 25-year-old from Corunna, Ont., was true to his word, winning gold in high jump at the world championships with a quiet confidence that ran through virtually every member of this young and talented Canadian team.

"I definitely was telling myself that if there was ever an opportunity this was it. I really felt like I was the one to beat, I felt like this was my championship to lose based on how people had been jumping coming in versus the last couple of meets that I had," Drouin said.

"And when it finally happened, it was just a relief."

The medal was No. 8 for the Canadian team to cap a thrilling best-ever showing.

"We came here to kick ass," said Athletics Canada head coach Peter Eriksson. "We kicked ass."

Canada's previous best performance was five medals two years ago in Moscow, Russia. The Canadians had never won two gold -- Canada's other one this week came from pole vaulter Shawn Barber. And the last time Canada won more medals in either a world championships or Olympics was at the 1932 Games, where the Canadians captured nine.

Drouin arrived in Beijing with the fifth-best jump in the world this year, and on the heels of a victory at the Pan American Games.

The edge-of-your-seat event was decided in a rare jumpoff. Drouin, Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko and China's Zhang Guowei all jumped clean up to 2.36 metres, at which all three of them missed.

The bar was lowered back to 2.34. Drouin was the only one to clear it, guaranteeing gold. Bondarenko and Zhang shared silver; there was no bronze medal awarded.

"In the jump-off, it was a terrible situation to be in, terribly stressful," Drouin said. "And obviously no-one's going for you. I maybe would have started a clap if I thought that people were going to jump on board. It's the advantage of home soil.

"I've always felt that the mental game has always been a strong aspect for me, and luckily in a jump-off that's basically all it comes down to, and I was able to use that to my advantage tonight."

Drouin, the bronze medallist at both the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 world championships, is known for his calm demeanour. All around him Sunday night was mayhem and a bit of madness.

Zhang played up to the raucous crowd, posing like a crane in "Karate Kid" after every successful jump. Colourful Italian Gianmarco Tamberi competed with a half-shorn face -- he had a moustache and beard on just one half of his face.

When the 4x400-metre relays started, the jumpers had to hastily take their jumps between the runners on track. …

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