Canada’s Andre De Grasse had an impressive season-best performance in the men’s 200 metres to win his first Diamond League title at the Prefontaine Classic on Sunday.
The Markham, Ont., native showed off his vintage final gear down the stretch to pull ahead and cross the line in 19.76 seconds.
Americans Kenny Bednarek (19.95) and Erriyon Knighton (19.97) placed second and third, respectively. Toronto’s Aaron Brown finished sixth (20.23).
De Grasse, the reigning Olympic 200 champion, had struggled for much of the season — including a sixth-place finish at the world championships in August — but has come on of late.
“Next year’s a big year obviously with the Olympics, so I wanted to try to just give it all to try to see where I’m at going into next season,” De Grasse said. “For me, it’s really just staying healthy. I know what I’m capable of if I’m healthy. Obviously I had some challenges this year with my health, and just trying to get back into my fitness and my speed. I see it coming back now.”
He is Canada’s first Diamond League champion since shot putter Dylan Armstrong in 2011.
“It’s my first one, so I’m pretty grateful for that, to be able to get one, put it up in my trophy case with all my medals. Definitely looking forward to getting more in the future, but this one feels great to get my first one,” De Grasse said.
De Grasse, who won Olympic gold two years ago, was sixth (20.43) in last year’s season-ending race after battling COVID-19 and a toe injury. He was second in the sprint double at the 2021 Final.
Brown, 31, was second to Noah Lyles (19.52) in the 200 at last year’s Final, clocking a 20.02 season best to edge Alex Ogando of the Dominican Republic in a photo finish. Brown had never finished among the top three in the event at the Final, placing fourth for four consecutive years from 2017-2021.
Arop sets Canadian record
Edmonton’s Marco Arop lowered his personal best over 800 metres to one minute 42.85 seconds, breaking Brandon McBride’s 1:43:20 national mark from 2018 in a second-place finish.
Arop took charge early, moving to the front of the pack behind pacer and training partner Navasky Anderson. He held the lead until halfway down the straightaway at Hayward Field when Emmanuel Wanyonyi of Kenya passed him to reach the finish in a meet record and world-leading time of 1:42.80.
Nijel Amos of Botswana held the previous mark of 1:43.63 since May 31, 2014.
Arop, 24, ran a 1:43.24 PB to a second-place finish on Sept 2 at a Diamond League meet in Xiamen, China, trailing only world No. 1 Wanyonyi, who clocked 1:43.20 for a then-PB and world lead.
But Arop, who is ranked second in the world, did get the best of his rival last month at the World Athletics Championships, clocking 1:44.24 to edge Wanyonyi (1:44.53).
Last September, the Canadian was fresh off earning world bronze in Eugene when he made a move with one lap to go at the Diamond League Final in Zurich. He led into the final straight but was caught by Emmanuel Korir of Kenya fewer than 10 metres from the finish line, placing second to the reigning Olympic champion in a season-best 1:43.38. He was fourth in 2021, clocking 1:45.23.
In so many races, I’ll be feeling great the last 200, 150, 100 [metres] and the last 50 I start to break down or [break] form.— Canadian 800-metre record holder Marco Arop
Since his freshman year at Mississippi State University, Arop has had to work on his final 100 metres, trying to figure out his last kick or push.
“In so many races, I’ll be feeling great the last 200, 150, 100 [metres] and the last 50 I start to break down or [break] form. Part of it can be mental,” he told CBC Sports this week. “Maybe it’s trying too hard to get to the finish line. I had the lead and great momentum [last year in Zurich] going into the final curve.
“I remember thinking, ‘Just hold form’ and hearing the noise level of the crowd rise. I knew somebody was [gaining ground on me]. In that moment, I got a little worked up, tried to strain or work harder. There’s a fine balance where you want to push but not overdo it. It’s getting better but there’s still so much I could improve.”
Arop pointed out the loss at last year’s Final left him “hungrier than ever” and said being crowned a Diamond League champion would “solidify this year as my greatest.”
It was still a remarkable campaign that featured his second consecutive national title and third overall at the senior level, a 1:44.64 performance in Langley, B.C.
Chris Woods, Arop’s coach since 2019, noted the last four or five years of race experience and the confidence the middle-distance runner has gained has led to him finding ways to win races, whether it’s outkicking people in the last 100m or taking a race out fast and holding people off.
“Marco has an incredibly high ceiling,” Woods said earlier this week from MSU. “We haven’t done a lot of speed work the past couple of years. He has the potential, historically, to be one of the greatest two-lap athletes.”
Jackson retains 200m title
Shericka Jackson came off the turn with a massive lead to retain her women’s 200 meters Diamond League championship title in 21.57, but came short of her goal to break Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record.
The Jamaican Jackson won the 100m Diamond League championship a day earlier and finished more than half a second ahead of Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou on Sunday, as Anthonique Strachan of the Bahamas took third in 22.15.
Tsegay shatters world mark in women’s 5K
Ethiopia’s Gudef Tsegay broke the world record in the 5,000 metres, running it in in 14:00.21.
Tsegay bested the record of 14:05.20 set by Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon earlier this year in Paris. Tsegay’s finish was nearly 12 seconds better than her personal best. Kenyan Beatrice Chebet was runner-up in 14:05.92.
The Prefontaine Classic, normally run in late May, was this year’s final stop on the track and field circuit. The 32 champions crowned during the two-day meet at Eugene’s Hayward Field were set to earn $30,000 US apiece.
Duplantis raises pole vault world record to 6.23m
Sweden’s ArmandDuplantis broke his own pole vault world record, clearing 6.23 metres.
The performance shaved one centimetre off his previous best of 6.22 set in France in February.
It was the seventh world record for the back-to-back world champion, who soared over the rest of the field at the season-ending meeting as EJ Obiena of the Philippines finished second with 5.82 and American Sam Kendricks took third with 5.72.
The Olympic champion Duplantis nudged the bar as he cleared the record height before jumping up and down in joy before sprinting to his team, who hoisted him into the air.
In other action:
Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen won his second Diamond League Trophy of the weekend with a victory in the 3,000. In a photo finish with Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha, Ingebrigtsen crossed the line first in 7:23.63.
American Athing Mu won the 800 in 1:54.97, a new national and meet record. Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic won the 400 in 49.58.
Ukranian Yaroslava Mahuchikh claimed gold in the high jump. Afterward, she said it was important to show the resilience of the Ukranians as the war with Russia continues. “I’m happy that I have the opportunity to compete and show all the world that we are strongest, we are from Ukraine,” she said.
Femke Bol of the Netherlands won the title in the 400 hurdles in 51.98, while Tobi Amusan of Nigeria won the 100 hurdles in 12.33.
American Joe Kovacs had a monster throw of 22.93 metres (75 feet, 2 3/4 inches) to win the men’s shot put, ahead of native Oregonian and world record holder Ryan Crouser.
Jamaican Hansle Parchment defeated three-time world champion Grant Holloway in the 110 metres, finishing in 12.93.
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