De Grasse, Warner headline Canadian team heading to world athletics championships

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TORONTO — Sprinter Andre De Grasse, decathlete Damian Warner and shot putter Sarah Mitton headline Canada's 54-member team heading to the world track and field championships in Eugene, Ore.

Mitton is coming off a spectacular week that saw her launch a Canadian-record throw of 20.33 metres on Saturday at the national championships in Langley, B.C. and then claim silver in a Diamond League event in Stockholm on Thursday with a throw of 19.90 metres.

“I’m trying not to think about the competition differently,” said Mitton. “But it’s changed my perception of what I can do. My goal at the start of the year was making the top 12, but 20 metres, on any given day, is a podium spot.

"The confidence is high but I still have to make it through the qualifying rounds, so the first goal is to put in one good throw in the first three, and reassessing from there.”

De Grasse, a six-time Olympic medallist, and Warner, the reigning Olympic decathlon champion, were both late scratches from last week's Canadian championship.

Warner pulled out with a sore knee, while De Grasse tested positive for COVID-19.

Both are expected to be healthy for the world championships, which will be held July 15-24 at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.

“With the world championships as our benchmark event, we’re expecting the athletes to perform at their very best and this is our strongest team,” said Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert. “We have had some great performances at National Championships last week in a variety of events. We were also missing some athletes who will be at Worlds, so we are anticipating some great results overall in Eugene.”

Before getting sick, De Grasse had been rounding into form after an early-season foot injury, winning the 100 metres at the Oslo Diamond League meet June 16 in a season's best 10.05 seconds.

De Grasse will race in the 100 metre, 200 metre and 4x100 relay in Eugene. He medalled in all three events, including gold in the 200, at the Tokyo Olympics and became Canada's most decorated male Summer Olympian with six career podium finishes.

Fellow sprinter Aaron Brown, the newly minted 2022 Canadian champion in the 100 and 200, is looking forward to racing in his fifth world Championship

“This world championship is special because it’s in North America for the first time,” said Brown, a two-time Olympic medallist with Canada's 4x100 relay team. “Hayward is always a special place to run and I’m hoping this opportunity to grow the sport in this side of the world is seized.”

Mohammed Ahmed, a silver medallist in the 5,000 metres in Tokyo, will race in both the 5,000 and 10,000 in Eugene, while Evan Dunfee, who claimed bronze at the 2020 Olympics, will compete in the 50 kilometre race walk. Both men won bronze medals at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2022

The Canadian Press

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