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De Grasse bound for Diamond League Final after 1st 200m race under 20 seconds in 2 years

Propelled by a season’s best, Andre De Grasse booked his spot in the Diamond League Final on Friday.

The Markham, Ont., sprinter posted a time of 19.89 seconds for third place in the men’s 200 metres at a meet in Brussels — the first time he’s run under 20 seconds since the 2021 Final — to qualify for the Sept. 16-17 season-ending event in Eugene, Ore.

American Kenny Bednarek collected Friday’s race in 19.79, edging Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain (19.82).

Toronto native Aaron Brown was fourth with a 19.98 season best and will also compete next weekend at Hayward Field.

De Grasse entered Friday’s race in the eighth and final qualifying spot for the Final, followed by Hughes and Bednarek.

In need of a strong performance, De Grasse delivered with his fastest time since he went 19.72 on Sept. 9, 2021, 2-100ths of a second behind Bednarek, who won the Diamond League Trophy.

The 28-year-old De Grasse left the World Athletics Championships last month in Budapest without a medal, placing fifth in the 200 and watching from the sidelines as Canada’s 4×100 relay team failed to advance through heats.

At the time, De Grasse told Andi Petrillo of CBC Sports his 100-metre speed lagged this season, costing him valuable time in the 200. At the Canadian championships in July, he failed to qualify for the men’s 100 final, running 10.21 in the semifinals and short of the 10.00 automatic entry standard for worlds.

But De Grasse appeared to find something in Belgium, and hopes to carry that form and momentum into the Final.

Brown, 31, concluded as the top qualifier for the Final, partly a result of his racing quantity through the season. He exited the starting blocks in Brussels with purpose after being disqualified in the world semifinals for a lane infringement.

Before Friday, he hadn’t finished under 20 seconds since going 19.99 in the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 3, 2021. Brown’s personal best is 19.95 from July 2019.

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