Canadian Andre De Grasse may be the best candidate to beat Usain Bolt in the Jamaican’s final major race before retirement at the world championships in August.
De Grasse is already looking ahead to a possible 100m showdown in London.
“Usain is one hell of an athlete, and for me to be one of the best I’ve got to beat him, so I’ve got to continue to keep working hard, stay motivated, stay focused,” De Grasse said Wednesday, according to the Canadian Press. “It’s his last world championships. It’s going to be tough for me. I’ve just got to try to spoil his parade.”
De Grasse, 22, bagged three medals in Rio — silver in the 200m and bronze in the 100m and 4x100m relay. Maybe his most memorable moment came in the 200m semifinals, when he exchanged smiles with Bolt before crossing the finish line.
Neither Bolt nor De Grasse has raced individually outdoors in 2017. De Grasse is slated to debut at a Diamond League meet in Doha on May 5.
Bolt has said he will race the 100m at his final worlds but not the 200m. This means he won’t have a showdown with Olympic 400m champion and world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa.
But De Grasse could be a difficult challenge for the 30-year-old Bolt, who has slowed at recent major championships.
Bolt clocked world records at the 2008 Olympics (9.69 seconds) and 2009 World Championships (9.58) but slowed to 9.63 at London 2012 and then 9.77 in 2013 and 9.79 in 2015 and 9.81 at the Rio Games.
De Grasse made his worlds debut in 2015, sharing bronze in 9.92 seconds and then clocking 9.91 in Rio, behind Bolt and American Justin Gatlin.
Gatlin is now 35 years old and coming off an injury-slowed 2016 after he starred in 2014 and 2015. He also has not raced individually outdoors this season but is slated for a Diamond League meet in Shanghai on May 13.
Bolt has not lost a global championship final since 2007 (excluding his 2011 Worlds 100m false start). He was asked two years ago if he would stick to his 2017 retirement plan if he was beaten in his last race.
“I don’t think I could,” Bolt said. “On my last race, my last championship, I don’t think I could.”
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