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4 Canadian track athletes to watch at Worlds

4 Canadian track athletes to watch at Worlds

Posted by PanamericanWorld on August 19, 2015

Sprinter Andre De Grasse can no longer claim anonymity among Canadian sports fans, and he faces his biggest test yet when he steps on the track for the world track and field championships in Beijing, China, Aug. 22 to 31.

De Grasse, 20, is one of a few bright spots in the track events for Canada after winning the 100m and 200m at the Pan Am Games. With a personal best of 9.95 seconds in the 100m, he will have respect from the Jamaican and American camps.

But it was his sublime Canadian 200m record performance (19.88) to win the Pan Am gold that proved he could be a force on the world scene. He'll run just the 100m and then anchor the 4x100m relay team in Beijing.

"My best event is the 200m to be honest," the University of Southern California sprinter admits. "My coach feels like I have the endurance and strength to compete well in the 200m but my favourite event is the 100m. That's the event that everybody loves. That's the event I started doing when I first started track and field. That's why I chose to do that at the world championships, to see how I match up against those big names."

Two Jamaicans — Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell — and a pair of Americans — Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin — stand between De Grasse and the podium. It would be an extraordinary achievement for him to take a 100m medal in his first world championships.

Relay wildcard

Two years ago in Moscow, Canada won five medals but only one on the track — a bronze in the men's 4x100m relay.

If the team can get the baton safely around the Beijing Bird's Nest stadium, it just might earn another medal. However, botched baton passing and lane infractions at the recent Pan Am Games, the 2014 Commonwealth Games and at the 2012 Olympics are reminders that plenty can go wrong.

Distance strength

In the distance events, Cam Levins of Black Creek, B.C., looks to secure a top-five finish in a highly competitive field. At a Diamond League meet in May, Levins set a Canadian 10,000m record of 27:07.51 to finish fourth in a race that included some of the world's best distance men. The Olympic and world champion Mo Farah, with whom Levins trains in Oregon, and the Kenyan duo of Paul Tanui and Geoffrey Kamworor all dipped under 27 minutes on that occasion.

That result told Levins he is capable of getting under 27 minutes. But he has been nursing bruised ribs suffered during a fall at the Canadian championships. He was a disappointing fifth in the 5,000m at the Pan Am Games and is expected to compete in both the 5,000m and 10,000m in Beijing.

The women's 800m could yield a memorable performance if the Pan Ams prove to be an indication. Melissa Bishop, who won gold in Toronto, is capable of making the Beijing final and a mistake-free race could see her leap into the top five.

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