Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Andre De Grasse Wins 100 Title, with First Sub-10 Time of the Season

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Andre De Grasse Wins 100 Title, with First Sub-10 Time of the Season

Article excerpt

De Grasse races to Canadian 100 title

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EDMONTON - Andre De Grasse crouched in the starting blocks with Aaron Brown one lane to his right, and knew he'd need his season's best race to beat his new rival.

The 21-year-old from Markham, Ont., dipped below the 10-second mark for the first time this season en route to winning the 100 metres at the Canadian Olympic trials on Saturday.

De Grasse, an orange blur in his Puma singlet, pulled away from Brown over his first blistering few strides, then crossed in 9.99, thrusting one triumphant finger in the air.

"It's always pressure coming back the defending champion," De Grasse said afterward. "Aaron gave me a little bit of pressure, to see him run sub-10 seconds right before Canadian trials, so I thought 'I'm going to have to run sub 10 to beat this guy.'

"I'm just happy I came out here and performed well."

Brown crossed in 10.07, while Akeem Haynes of Calgary was third in 10.21.

The men's 100 was the highlight of an action-packed Saturday night that saw reigning world champions Shawn Barber, in the pole vault, and Derek Drouin, in the high jump, win gold, and Gabriela Stafford win a fierce women's 1,500-metre final.

Brown recently ran 9.96 to become just the second Canadian man in 17 years to dip below the elusive 10-second mark. De Grasse was the first, in a spectacular 2015 season that saw him win world bronze, then turn pro, signing a lucrative US$11.25 million deal with Puma.

The two have drawn comparisons to Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin, who co-hold the Canadian record of 9.84.

"This is a perfect opportunity for me and Aaron, Canada hasn't had two sub-10 sprinters for a long time, so I think me and him are going to do big things," De Grasse said.

Brown was similarly honoured.

"Those are two pillars of Canadian track and field so to be compared to them is a blessing," Brown said. "I'm really honoured to be in the same breath as those types of sub-10 runners."

De Grasse and Brown will go head to head again Sunday in the 200 metres, an event that saw De Grasse break Brown's Canadian record last season.

De Grasse has his sights on the national 100-metre record now. Conditions were a bit too chilly for a record run Saturday.

"I talked to Donovan today, he was asking me about (the record)," said De Grasse. "I said 'I don't know about it today, but I'm going to go for it (later in the season).'"

De Grasse has ridden a meteoric rise up the global sprint rankings, and not only officially clinched a spot on his first ever Olympic team Saturday, but should challenge for a medal against sprinting's big guns in Rio.

"It's been a whirlwind," he said. "I didn't expect to be in this position right now, making my first Olympic team, it's a dream come true for me, I just want to keep that momentum going towards Rio, and make myself proud, and this country. …

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