Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown have their eyes on the 100m title

Although good friends off the track, Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown have only one goal in mind when it comes to the 100m event: defeating the other .
The two sprinters will have the difficult task of determining who is the fastest man in the country, when they face off against the Canadian Track and Field Championships on Friday night, returning to Montreal for the first time. 21 years old.

In front of the Montreal crowd, Brown will look to defend at all costs his title of Canadian champion, acquired last year at the expense of Bismark Boateng and De Grasse. Brown and De Grasse will try to qualify for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

“It’s nice to compete. It has really improved this year. I see these times, he broke his personal record in Lausanne. I know that I have to be at the top of my game and that I have to be ready, “admitted De Grasse.

For Glenroy Gilbert, Athletics Canada head coach, the motivation to triumph goes far beyond comparisons between the two Ontarians.

“They are even more motivated by the need to win. Because victory means that one of them is the fastest man in Canada, he said. So they want to win this title at any cost. They have similar performances this season, however, stress, temperature and the ability to run under pressure will come into play. ”

This kind of rivalry reminds Gilbert of his happy years, as he was the teammate of Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey on the Canadian relay team. Today at the helm of the Canadian Athletics Program, he sees many similarities between former Canadian glories and his foals.

“Their rivalry was similar. It was national, but it was also moving on the international scene. It’s the same principle, he said. They were friends, but they were rivals and fine competitors here, as elsewhere in the world. ”

Although the ultimate goal of Brown and De Grasse is the same, the motivations of the two young men differ.

For De Grasse, this will be an opportunity to refine his results and continue his rise in recent months. After two difficult years of injury, the Scarborough-based athlete clocked his best time of the Diamond League season with a time of 100m in 9.99 seconds last week in London.

“It was definitely a step in the right direction for me,” said De Grasse, who decided to skip the 200m in Montreal. I have not run under 10 seconds for a long time. It’s good for the future, because it’s a long season. I can improve every day. ”

The many changes De Grasse has made in recent months, including his bold decision to leave coach Stuart MacMillan and continue his journey with Rana Reider, could also be behind his recent successes.

“I train hard and smart, I have a new coach and I am in a different environment. I do things differently from what I did in the past. It’s for the best, he admitted. I feel like I’m moving forward and I’m healthy. Being able to compete again with the fastest guys, it helped me a lot.

“I’m really close to my best career results. I feel that I am able to do better. I feel good.”

For his part, Brown intends to use his performance this weekend to make some adjustments for the end of the season. Although the expectations are high for confrontation, the Torontonians do not intend to put more pressure on their shoulders.

“It’s the kind of environment you want to run in because my personal goals go well beyond the Canadian Championships,” he said. I want to be competitive at the World Championships, so it’s going to be a barometer to see where I am. To be face to face with an internationally recognized guy who has earned medals at the highest levels of our sport is good for my confidence. ”

Lalonde triumphs in the 3000m steeplechase

While waiting to witness the confrontation between the two sprinters, the spectators were lucky enough to see Geneviève Lalonde triumph in the women’s 3000m steeple final in the evening. The Acadian, who won the national title for the third time, spun to the finish line in 9: 34.85, well overcoming her rivals Regan Yee (9: 40.73) and Charlotte Prouse (9: 43,17).

“It was my tactic today, I had girls on the heels. I did not want to be in the battle of the pack, I wanted to get ahead, said Lalonde, with a broad smile on his face. It’s still a pretty good time so I’m happy. It prepares me well for the World Championships and the Pan American Games. ”

On the men’s side, Jean-Simon Desgagnés, who seemed to be heading straight for the podium, had his hair done in the last lap and a half, as the pace of the race accelerated. The Quebecker tried everything for the applause of the crowd, but he had to settle for fourth place in a time of 8: 51.25 minutes. Matthew Hughes took gold after running the 3,000 in 8: 45.85. Ryan Smeeton (8: 47.03) and John Gay (8: 48.26) completed the podium.

In the 5,000, Quebecker Thomas Fafard caused a surprise by standing up to the elite, finishing in third place ahead of Olympian Lucas Bruchet, with a time of 13: 58.75 minutes. Justyn Knight (13: 56,68) was second behind Mohammed Ahmed (13: 54,92).

“It’s really a great achievement for me, I really did not expect that,” said Fafard, who left his hometown of Repentigny this winter to join the Rouge et Or Athletics Club. Laval University. I was aiming for a top-5 at best. But I did things that allowed me to go all the way. I think that struggling with Lucas (Bruchet) in the end gave me extra energy to finish strong.

“It was really intimidating for me (to find myself in the lead pack). I did not know what I was doing there, but I just trusted myself and tried everything. Being in Montreal, at home, in front of my family, it really gave me energy. ”

On the women’s side, Calgary’s Jessica O’Connell flew the 5,000-meter distance by stopping the clock at 15: 49.54, nearly two seconds ahead of her closest rival Andrea Seccafien (15: 47.93) . Rachel Cliff (15: 51,25) won the bronze medal.

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