March 4th, 2024

De Grasse set for earlier start to Olympic year with indoor event in Kazakhstan

By Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press on January 26, 2024.

Andre De Grasse is set for an earlier start than usual this season. The six-time Olympic medallist sprinter is competing in the 60 metres at the Astana Indoor Meeting in Kazakhstan on Saturday. De Grasse receives high fives from fans during the men's 200-meter heat at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ashley Landis

Andre De Grasse is set for an earlier start than usual this season.

The six-time Olympic medallist sprinter is competing in the 60 metres at the Astana Indoor Meeting in Kazakhstan on Saturday. It will be just his third time taking part in the indoor season since turning pro in 2015.

“Just to see where I’m at early, get some rust off,” the Markham, Ont., native said. “You know, work on my start, work on my acceleration, work on the first part of my race, because that’s going to be crucial.

“I don’t want to wait until April to run “¦ (I want to) test out how the training is going and how the body’s feeling. There’s a lot of early adjustments that I want to make, I don’t want to leave it too late.”

De Grasse, who also raced indoors as a pro in 2016 and 2021, said injuries affected his season last year.

“I wasn’t able to start my season the way I wanted to, we started pretty late and then I had to answer up and get ready for Canadian nationals and then get ready for world championships,” he said. “So everything kind of came fast and I just thought I wasn’t prepared in you. So right now I’m healthy and I just want to see where I’m at before I get into the rigorous part of training.”

The 60 metres in Astana is one of two indoor races De Grasse is scheduled for at the moment, along with the Millrose Games in New York on Feb. 11.

He holds a personal best of 6.60 seconds in the 60-metre event from February 2015. He ran a 6.61 in his lone indoor race in 2016 and 6.79 in 2021, the latter in which De Grasse finished sixth.

“From me doing that one indoor race, I knew where I was and what I needed to do,” he said. “It was like, ‘All right, I got left in the blocks I need to go back and work on my reaction, work on making sure I’m pushing out of the blocks.’

“In this sport, you can make so many mistakes, so many errors and you have to be almost perfect to win the race.”

The 29-year-old is entering a big year with the Paris Olympic Games coming in July. It’ll be his third Olympics, and with a 200-metre title to defend, he is going with different preparation looking to leave no room for error.

“My last two Olympics I was going in having (had) a good year before that, so it’s a little bit different this time around,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of changes, moved around, I’ve tried new things. I feel like I’m like a veteran now at this point, I’m no longer a rookie, I know what to expect.

“Now it’s just about making sure that I do all the right things and I always have to remember that now that I’m a veteran, a lot of the things that I go through now, I have to go with my gut feeling, and if something’s not right, then I have to make changes. I have to know how to make these adjustments quicker on the fly so that I’m prepared at all times.”

De Grasse is coming off a trying past two years dealing with injuries, but it ended with him blazing to his first career Diamond League title last September with a win in the 200 metres in Eugene, Ore. He then returned to his old coach Rana Reider in Jacksonville, Fla., who helped him reach his highest heights from 2018-2022.

But De Grasse isn’t dwelling on what he’s done. He’s just pushing forward.

“That’s good from a confidence standpoint but I mean, it’s always a new year,” he said of the Diamond League win. “I could think of it like, I had a great season in 2021 with the Olympics and to build off of that going into the next year in 2022, you think, ‘yeah, it’s going to be great.’ And then all of a sudden I get hurt.

“So it’s hard to think back to the previous season, you have to go into the season with an open mind “¦ everything changes, you have to make adjustments, you have to adapt. There’s going to be a little bit of adversity here and there. So you have to forget about last year.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2024.

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