'He's ready to go': Andre De Grasse healthy, primed to compete at world championships

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Canada's Andre De Grasse competes in the men's 100m race during the Oslo stop of the Diamond League in June. (Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB Scanpix via AP - image credit)
Canada's Andre De Grasse competes in the men's 100m race during the Oslo stop of the Diamond League in June. (Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB Scanpix via AP - image credit)

Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert says the country's most decorated track and field superstar Andre De Grasse is healthy and expects the six-time Olympic medallist to compete in the 100-metre, 200m and 4x100m relay at the world championships.

De Grasse tested positive for COVID-19 a second time just two weeks ago and has been slowly recovering from symptoms, including shortness of breath. It forced him to miss Nationals in Langley, B.C., at the end of June.

But despite a less-than-ideal lead up to the world athletics championships which begin on Friday in Eugene, Ore., Gilbert says the plan right now 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 top storyline at World Athletics Championships:

"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 running both and the relay," Gilbert told CBC Sports.

"I spoke to Andre yesterday. He's healthy and he's in a really light, light mood. Not taking anything on. He's overcoming COVID but he's doing much better and he's ready to go."

De Grasse spent about 45 minutes on Thursday afternoon at a training facility near Hayward Field practicing getting out of the blocks and loosening up his body ahead of the 100m heats scheduled for Friday night. Temperatures are expected to hover around 30 degrees throughout the ten days of competition.

It's been a challenging season to date for the 27-year-old, who has battled a foot injury and hasn't been running his best. Add in this recent bout with COVID and there are certainly questions about his ability to perform. However, this is nothing new for De Grasse who has been questioned before ahead of important international meets, only to excel.

In fact, dating back to the 100m since De Grasse's world championship debut in 2015 where he won bronze in the 100m, De Grasse has entered seven individual events at the worlds or Olympics and reached the podium in every single one of them.

"He's always been a big-gamer. 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're obviously rooting for him and he'll be ready to go."

Ahmed, Warner return from injuries

De Grasse wasn't the only big-name track star to miss nationals for Canada. Both Moh Ahmed and Damian Warner were out due to injury.

However, Gilbert says the two athletes are also healthy and ready to go.

Ahmed, who won Canada's first distance medal at the Olympics by capturing silver in the 5,000m last summer in Tokyo, has been battling calf soreness since an event in Rome at the beginning of June.

"He did have some calf issues coming out of Rome. That's behind him. He's arriving here tomorrow and is ready to go," Gilbert said.

And Warner, who is the Olympic champion in the decathlon, is at full strength and will look to win his first-ever world championship gold.

"Good spirits. Damian and his team are ready to go," Gilbert added.

Canada is sending a team of 59 athletes to worlds — 34 women and 25 men — who have won a total of 15 Olympic medals.

Gilbert says the team is feeling confident heading into this 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 get personal bests, finish in the top-eight and win medals? Why can't we expect that? Our athletes have bought into that. They're calm and relaxed."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here

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