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ZURICH — Canada's Olympic champion Andre De Grasse capped his "greatest season ever" with a pair of second-place finishes at the Diamond League Final on Thursday.
Running a rare double on the same night, and only 74 minutes apart, the 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., tied his personal best of 9.89 seconds, a mark he set in winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, to finish second in the 100. American Fred Kerley, the silver medallist in Tokyo, won in 9.87, while American Ronnie Baker took third in 9.91.
De Grasse was back on the Letzigrund Stadium track barely an hour later — uncommon in international track — to take second in the 200. Well back of the leaders coming off the corner, he closed hard down the home stretch to run 19.72 seconds, his second fastest time of the season.
Kenny Bednarek edged De Grasse in 19.70.
"Of course, it is the end of the season, so I am a little bit tired but I am happy for my performances today," De Grasse said. "I equalled my PB in the 100 so I cannot complain, and at the 200, I just had no gas. I did not watch the time, I just tried to get out there, and I am happy I got the podium performance."
Three Canadians had fourth-place finishes: Aaron Brown in the 200, Marco Arop in the 800, and Django Lovett in high jump.
De Grasse was a triple medallist in Tokyo, winning gold in the 200 and bronze in the 100 and 4x100 relay to become Canada's most decorated male Olympian in history.
"This was my greatest season ever," De Grasse said. "To be an Olympic champion, that is amazing. I want to continue and build on this — I am not going to say next Olympics, but the next world championships."
De Grasse — who won the 100 at the Prefontaine Classic last month in a speedy 9.74, which would have been a Canadian record had it not been wind-aided — will be a favourite for the top of the podium at the next summer's world championships in Eugene, Ore.
After racing in an empty Olympic Stadium in Tokyo — the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan meant no fans were permitted — De Grasse enjoyed the appreciative packed crowd on Thursday.
"Finally we could run in front of the full crowd, it was a good atmosphere out there," he said.
De Grasse was one of 17 Olympic champions competing in Zurich. There was US$60,000 in prize money on each event. Winners earned US$30,000, a huge crystal trophy carved like a diamond, and an automatic berth in next summer's world championships in Eugene, Ore.
Arop, meanwhile, just missed the podium to cap his breakout season. The 22-year-old from Edmonton, who recently won back-to-back Diamond League events in the 800, ran 1:45.23. Emmanuel Korir of Kenya won in 1:44.56.
Lovett, of Surrey, B.C., cleared 2.27 metres to finish in a tie for fourth in high jump.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2021.
The Canadian Press