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Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse pondering options ahead of season


TORONTO — Heading into an important season, Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse is weighing his options.

The 24-year-old from Markham, Ont., is coming off back-to-back seasons that ended with hamstring injuries. He hasn't resumed full training yet, and doesn't sound completely sure of where that will be when he does.

"I have some options in mind, still talking to figure out what the best scenario is moving forward," said De Grasse. "Right now it's just trying to wrap my mind around that, get some advice from certain people, use my own knowledge, and put that altogether to have a successful year next year."

De Grasse has trained with coach Stu McMillan and the Phoenix-based Altis club since he turned pro in 2015.

The three-time Olympic medallist missed the 2017 world championships with a hamstring injury. That injury and a bout of mononucleosis made for a late start to the 2018 season, but he was running well in the 200 heats at the Canadian championships in July when he slowed to a walk with 30 metres to go. His second right hamstring injury cost him the rest of the season.

Looking back, De Grasse believes the Canadian championships schedule played a part. He'd raced to bronze in the 100 metres the previous night, and had a quick turnaround before the 200 heats the next afternoon.  

"I think when I look back at last season, I just didn't get a chance to really train as much because I had mono and a bunch of other things going on, and to go back-to-back at the Canadian trials . . . I had actually never done that before," he said. "Usually at competitions you get a day off or you get a good 12 hours, so with all that going in with training, my body just didn't have a chance to recover.

"And that's normal in sprinters, and I couldn't really beat myself up over that. It just wasn't a strategic move to run the 100 and then run the 200 with all that was going on with my training last season."

De Grasse said he's physically 100 per cent, but hasn't returned to full training. He's doing cross-training, jogging and has played some basketball. He's also cherishing the time to spend with his daughter Yuri, who was born on June 23.

"It's good. She's getting better now, she cried for the first couple of months, so there was no sleep," he said. "But luckily I wasn't competing. Other than that, it's fun, she's lovable, and she's always smiling. That's the fun part when you're having a crappy day."

Wednesday, the sprinter was participating in National Red Mitten Day, to support the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Hudson's Bay doubled its $3.90 donation (up to $50,000) for each purchase of the popular Olympic mittens this year.

"I thought that was pretty cool, and I was excited that they asked me to be a part of it," said De Grasse, who was to appear at a popup shop in Toronto on Wednesday.

The mittens have raised over $32 million to date for the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

De Grasse, who captured Canada's imagination when he challenged Usain Bolt at the Rio Olympics, said he hopes to return to training by the end of the month. It's a late season with the world track and field championships scheduled for Sept. 28 to Oct. 6 in Qatar.

"I've just got to continue to trust the process, and be patient these next couple of months," he said. "If I can do that and I'm healthy, I think that I'll be ready for the world championships in Qatar.

"I know how fast I can run," he added. "It's been a struggle this past year, so for me it's just trying to get myself up, and Tokyo (Olympics) — hear it every day — it's just around the corner. But I just want to prepare myself for a good year, so I can be ready for the next Olympics."

 

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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