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Late charge propels De Grasse to 200-metre win in season-best time

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Canada’s Andre De Grasse surged over the final 40 metres Sunday to win the men’s 200 in a season-best 20.19 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/File)

Andre De Grasse delivered an early first birthday gift to daughter Yuri on Father’s Day Sunday, outrunning world champion Ramil Guliyev to win the men’s 200 metres in Diamond League action at Morocco.

A bearded De Grasse displayed a strong finishing kick to overtake his Turkish opponent before crossing the line in a season-best 20.19 metres in Rabat. Guliyev clocked 20.28 and hasn’t run under 20 seconds in four races since prevailing at the Diamond League season opener in 19.99.

“I’m not happy with the time but it’s still a work in progress and I’m grateful for the win,” said De Grasse, who set the meet record of 20.03 on the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium track in 2017. “I love coming to this meet, the fans are great.”

The victory was the first in three 200 races this season for the Markham, Ont., runner who placed second in Grenada in April and at a Diamond League meet last month in Shanghai.

De Grasse, 24, finished second in the 100 at the Nanjing World Challenge in China on May 21 and four days later won at the Taiwan Open Athletics Championships.

WATCH | Andre De Grasse races to 200m win in Rabat:

De Grasse ran a season-best time of 20.19 seconds to win the men’s 200m race at the IAAF Diamond League event in Rabat, Morocco 1:14

To beat Guliyev early in the season bodes well for the Canadian, according to CBC Sports analyst Anson Henry.

“He didn’t get off the turn that great but [maybe] he just wanted to feel himself out and see what he could do in the straightaway,” Henry said of De Grasse. “When he came into the straightaway, he seemed like he was down but stayed composed.

“The speed maintenance he showed at the end of the race is only going to transfer into his 100 and he’s going to be reeling some people in or pulling away at the end.”

My confidence is there. I know I can compete with the best.— Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse

De Grasse’s 2018 season was cut short by a second right hamstring strain in less than a year but he appears to have regained the confidence and swagger that led to his three-medal performance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“I’m working hard to recover. It’s been a long year,” he said. “Every step is not going to be great but it’s all about the process to get to the end of the year, the world championships.

“My confidence is there. I know I can compete with the best.”

WATCH | De Grasse on his long road to recovery:

Andre De Grasse spoke after his 1st place finish in the men’s 200m race at the IAAF Diamond League event in Rabat, Morocco. 1:31

Spending the past year with Yuri, whom De Grasse and his longtime girlfriend Nia Ali welcomed into the world last June 22, no doubt relieved a lot of the sprinter’s pain and served as motivation to return to the track under new coach Rana Reider.

Alex Quinonez of Ecuador placed third in 20.30 on Sunday and has six podium finishes in seven races this season. The 29-year-old beat a fourth-place Guliyev at the Golden Gala in Rome on June 6 after losing to him at the Diamond League season opener in Doha.

DeBues-Stafford sets PB in women’s 1,500m

In the women’s 1,500, Toronto’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford moved from 13th early on to finish seventh in a personal-best 4:00.46, just 19-100ths of a second shy of Lynn Kanuka’s Canadian record of 4:00.27, set Aug. 14, 1985.

Now living in Scotland, DeBues-Stafford had run a 4:01.28 PB in Rome to qualify for this year’s world championships and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old University of Toronto graduate set three Canadian records to begin 2019 — the indoor 5,000 and mile and most recently the outdoor 5,000 at the Stockholm Diamond League on May 30.

Genzebe Dibaba, the 2016 silver medallist from Ethiopia, won Sunday’s race in a world-leading and meet record 3:55.47.

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who won gold at the 2016 indoor world championships, set a national mark in finishing second in 3:55.93 while Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay was third (3:57.40).

Emmanuel proud to medal after stumble

Toronto’s Crystal Emmanuel appeared to blast out of the blocks in the women’s 100 metres but struggled to maintain her speed, finishing third in 11.30 seconds for her fourth podium finish in the event in as many races this season.

“I didn’t get a great start,” said Emmanuel. “To stumble and still get third, I’m proud of myself.”

WATCH | Crystal Emmanuel sprints to 3rd-place finish:

The Canadian got off to a quick start in the women’s 100m, but would settle for a 3rd place finish at the IAAF Diamond League event in Rabat, Morocco 1:31

On June 11, the 27-year-old clocked a season-best and world championship qualifying time of 11.19 at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland.

Emmanuel, who was seventh in the 200 at the 2017 world championships, is hoping to run a sprint double at worlds in September.

WATCH | Emmanuel has high hopes for remainder of season:

Crystal Emmanuel spoke after her 3rd place finish in the women’s 100m race in Rabat, Morocco. 0:44

She was seventh in the 200 at the 2017 world championships and is the three-time defending Canadian champion in both events.

Pole vaulter Newman clears 4.67m

Canadian-record holder Alysha Newman placed seventh with a 4.67-metre clearance in women’s pole vault.

Entering the competition at 4.47, she missed her first two attempts before making good on her third and final try. Newman had no issue at 4.57 before struggling at 4.67 and clearing on her third attempt.

On June 7, the 24-year-old native of London, Ont., broke her national outdoor mark of 4.75 with a 4.76 clearance at the Speed River Inferno track and field meet in Guelph, Ont.

Sandi Morris of the United States won Sunday’s event with a vault of 4.82, setting a meet record and season-best.

Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova, who competed as a neutral athlete, and American Katie Nageotte rounded out the podium with season-best vaults of 4.77 and 4.67, respectively.

McLeod falls to hurdles rival Shubenkov

World and Olympic 110-metre hurdles champion Omar McLeod fell before the finish to allow Sergey Shubenkov to win the latest dramatic installment in their rivalry.

Russian Shubenkov came from behind to catch McLeod before the last hurdle but was tripped just ahead of the finish by the stumbling Jamaican while still somehow managing to fall forward over the line first to claim victory in 13.12 seconds.

McLeod’s tumble meant he ended up fifth as the 28-year-old Shubenkov won an early morale booster ahead of one of the most anticipated clashes at the world championships in Doha, Qatar.

Diamond League on CBC Sports

CBC Sports is providing live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. TV coverage will be featured as part of the network’s Road To The Olympic Games weekend broadcasts throughout the season.

The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets, all times ET:

  • Eugene (June 30, 4–6 p.m.)
  • Lausanne (July 5, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Monaco (July 12, 2–4 p.m.)
  • London, England (July 20 and 21, 9–11 a.m.)
  • Birmingham, England (Aug. 18, 9–11 a.m.)
  • Paris (Aug. 24, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Zurich (Aug. 29, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Brussels (Sept. 7, 2–4 p.m.)

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