Andre De Grasse is ready for the “playoffs”.
The star sprinter is ready to compete in the 200 meters and help Canada defend their title in the men’s 4×100 relay at the World Championships in Athletics in Budapest, Hungary, which takes place from Saturday to August 27.
The Markham, Ontario native has had a tough year trying to bounce back after an injury-marred 2022 season.
The six-time Olympic medalist and reigning 200 Olympic champion understands what it’s like, though he’s not necessarily impressed by it.
“It’s tough, you know, with the injuries and obviously starting the season not the way you want to, it could put you in that category I guess,” he said. “I’m a team sports guy, I come from a basketball [and] football background so it’s all regular season for me.
“When the playoffs come around, that’s the championship, that’s when you really have to bring your A-game and that’s my main focus, right? … We have these Diamond Leagues or [other] competitions, it’s like the regular season and the world champions or the Olympics is the playoffs and that’s when you have to bring your star power.”
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While he ignores much of the talk about the favorites heading to Budapest, he is kept informed by those close to him.
“I feel like I hear that a lot, I guess I’m the underdog,” he said. “When I first got on the track and I was racing Usain Bolt, I was the underdog, and then people would say to Americans, I’m the underdog.”
“I don’t let that bother me because I know what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve done and what I’m capable of. that every time the championships come, I’m there and I’m ready to perform.”
De Grasse failed to run a world qualifying time for the 100, even missing the final at the nationals before running a season-best, qualifying time of 20.01 seconds to win the 200 national title two days later in July.
Leaving behind the result in the 100 was not easy.
“It was tough,” said De Grasse, the reigning Olympic 100m bronze medalist. “That night, I didn’t get much sleep because I was like, ‘What happened?’ ‘Why did I perform so poorly?’
“I just have to ignore it and I think having that extra day off, not racing again until Sunday, you just have to say, ‘Well, don’t worry about it, just focus on the next race and then when it’s all over. , you could report back and find out what went wrong and how you can improve for next time.’
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However, winning the 200 came with mixed feelings.
“In my mind, I was like, great, I took a step in the right direction, but I’m still a bit far from where I want to be, so I was 50/50 with it,” De Grasse said. “Now I just have to try to figure out how I can clean some things up and figure out how I can improve.”
“It was still a great feeling because I did it at home, the fans were excited and happy, everyone was cheering, so I felt 50 per cent better,” added De Grasse, who also met and greeted the fans. that week at a local London Drugs on behalf of TUT Fitness, whose logo he has sported all season.
‘Raise my game’
De Grasse failed to qualify for the 100m final and withdrew from the 200m before turning in a memorable anchor performance to help Canada win the 2022 world relay relay gold.
Now healthy and with a reputation for giving his best on the biggest stages (his personal bests in the 100 and 200 meters came at the Tokyo Olympic finals), De Grasse is ready.
“I’m just trying to improve my game,” he said, crediting his team for their preparation. “Kind of an all or nothing guy. This is it, this is the big stage and you have to do whatever it takes to win, right?
“I just come from that competitive mindset of playing other sports and being in that position before. I tell people all the time, you learn more from your losses than you do from your wins.”
“It helps me keep going to be ready for that moment.”