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De Grasse stuns 200m field to become Canada’s 1st Diamond League champion since 2011

Canada’s Andre De Grasse had an impressive season-best performance in the men’s 200 metres to earn his first Diamond League title at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on Sunday.

The Markham, Ont., native showed off his vintage final gear down the stretch to pull ahead and cross the line in 19.76 seconds.

Americans Kenny Bednarek (19.95) and Erriyon Knighton (19.97) placed second and third, respectively. Toronto’s Aaron Brown concluded sixth (20.23).

De Grasse, the reigning Olympic 200 champion, had struggled for much of the season — including a sixth-place finish at the world championships in August — but has come on of late.

“Next year’s a big year obviously with the Olympics, so I wanted to try to just give it all to try to see where I’m at going into next season. For me, it’s really just staying healthy; I know what I’m capable of if I’m healthy,” De Grasse said.

“Obviously I had some challenges this year with my health, and just trying to get back into my fitness and my speed. I see it coming back now.”

He is Canada’s first Diamond League champion since shot putter Dylan Armstrong in 2011.

“It’s my first one, so I’m pretty grateful for that, to be able to get one, put it up in my trophy case with all my medals. Definitely looking forward to getting more in the future, but this one feels great to get my first one,” De Grasse said.

De Grasse and Brown geared up for the Final with their fastest races over 200m in two years — 19.89 and 19.98 seconds, respectively last week in Brussels.

De Grasse, who collected Olympic gold two years ago, was sixth (20.43) in last year’s season-ending race after battling COVID-19 and a toe injury. He was second in the sprint double at the 2021 Final.

Brown, 31, was second to Noah Lyles (19.52) in the 200 at last year’s Final, clocking a 20.02 season best to edge Alex Ogando of the Dominican Republic in a photo finish. Brown had never finished among the top three in the event at the Final, placing fourth for four consecutive years from 2017-2021.

Steve Carr

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