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De Grasse, Leduc win 100-metre races at Canadian track and field trials

MONTREAL — Andre De Grasse crossed the finish line with his arms open wide, certain he’d just sprinted to yet another Canadian title in the 100 metres.
Andre De Grasse, celebrates his win in the 100m finals at the Canadian Track and Field Olympic trials in Montreal, Friday, June 28, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL — Andre De Grasse crossed the finish line with his arms open wide, certain he’d just sprinted to yet another Canadian title in the 100 metres.

So the six-time Olympic medallist was surprised to see Ottawa’s Eliezer Adjibi listed first on the board at Claude-Robillard sports complex.

"I was kind of confused. I mean, I thought I won, I didn't see anybody in my peripheral,” De Grasse said. “I was like, OK, maybe I got snuck up on the outside or something, because I didn't see anybody.”

Luckily for him, it was only a scare. A timing system issue gave Adjibi the edge before officials corrected the results following a review.

The 29-year-old De Grasse of Markham, Ont., captured gold in 10.20 seconds Friday night at the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic track and field trials, finishing ahead of Adjibi (10.23) and Toronto’s Aaron Brown (10.25).

De Grasse said he hasn’t experienced that type of scenario in a long time.

"Maybe like my junior years,” he said. “It was a good joke."

But Adjibi wasn’t laughing.

Initially surprised to see his name atop the leaderboard with the pack so close at the finish line, he started thinking a late lean forward had given him the advantage.

Adjibi’s name didn’t budge from the top for a few moments, so he sprinted gleefully in celebration down the track in front of a stunned crowd.

“I waited, I waited, I waited, and I see my name is still first, I was like, 'Oh (crap), I won,'” he said. “They made me do the (victory) lap, I came back and damn, boom. I didn't win.

“I can't do anything about it, so it's OK.”

De Grasse, who won gold in the 200 and bronze in the 100 at the Tokyo Games in 2021, is rounding into form ahead of his third Olympics.

He entered trials after running a season-best 10.00 seconds at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, last week to meet the Olympic entry standard, and feels like he’s gaining momentum with the Paris Games a month away.

"I've come away with so many Olympic medals and sometimes you kind of take that for granted, how much success I've had," said De Grasse, who has a knack for peaking in big moments.

"(But I want to) upgrade those medals. In the 100, I've won back-to-back bronze, so if I can get a silver or contend for a gold, that's the plan. That's the goal."

National record-holder Audrey Leduc of Gatineau, Que., a rising star, won the women’s 100 in 11.20 to confirm her place in Paris in front of friends and family.

"I'm just excited for what's gonna happen in Paris,” the 25-year-old Leduc said. “To be able to do that in front of the Quebec crowd is just amazing."

Sarah Mitton is also going to the Games after winning women’s shot put gold. Mitton threw 19.62 metres to lead the field and secure her fourth-straight Canadian title.

The 28-year-old from Brooklyn, N.S., is ranked first in the world in shot put. She won world championship silver last year and world indoor gold in March. At the Tokyo Games in 2021, Mitton finished 28th.

"This time, it just feels totally different," Mitton said of going to her second Olympics. "We're preparing more for a medal, and that's just a totally different feeling going into the Games.

"I feel very confident. A lot has changed since I went to the Olympics last time during COVID. I'm excited to have a crowd. I'm excited to have my family there. I'm just excited for taking the whole thing in."

Alysha Newman of Delaware, Ont., cleared 4.75 metres to take the women’s pole vault.

Earlier Friday, Christopher Morales Williams of Vaughan, Ont., advanced to the men’s 400-metre final after leading the semifinal with a time of 45.77. Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner of London, Ont., also moved on with a time of 47.46.

World champion Marco Arop of Edmonton began defence of his Canadian title with a 1:43.53 in the 800 semifinal.

Morales Williams, Warner and Arop are scheduled to race in their respective finals Saturday night.

The trials continue through Sunday. The Paris Games begin July 26.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2024.

Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press

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