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Andre De Grasse ready to overtake Usain Bolt this summer

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ROME (AP) — Andre De Grasse isn’t interested in taking over from Usain Bolt as the world’s best sprinter when the eight-time Olympic champion retires later this year.

He’s ready now.

“I’m trying to win this year. I feel like I have a great chance, and that’s what I want to do,” De Grasse told The Associated Press ahead of Thursday’s Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meet, where the Canadian will run the 200m (NBC Sports Gold, 12:15 p.m. ET and NBCSN, 2 p.m. ET).

MORE: Rome Preview

Bolt won’t be running in Rome, but De Grasse is looking forward to racing the Jamaican great at the world championships in London in August.

“I feel like I have a great chance in both events — 100m or 200m,” De Grasse said, though Bolt has said he won’t race the 200m at worlds. “If I can execute my race and I’m in top shape I feel like I can do that.”

The 22-year-old De Grasse took silver behind Bolt in the 200m at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and bronze behind Bolt and Justin Gatlin in the 100m. Having also anchored Canada to a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay in Rio, De Grasse became the first Canadian sprinter to win three medals in a single Olympics.

De Grasse pushed Bolt so hard in the semifinals of the 200m in Rio that Bolt acknowledged it was draining and prevented him from improving his world record a night later.

So what would it take to beat Bolt in the 100m in August?

“No idea. It’s anybody’s game. You can’t name a time,” De Grasse said. “It’s always about weather and conditions and those types of things. But it’s going to obviously take a well-executed race. I have to be at the top of my game and if I can do that I can do something special.”

De Grasse is working on improving his starts, which also happens to be the only area that Bolt struggles in.

“If I can have a great start and try to hold the lead that would be great,” De Grasse said. “My top-end speed is good. It’s all about finding the right factors to go out there and win.”

As a teen, De Grasse ran one of his first races wearing basketball shorts and borrowed shoes. He stood up in the blocks while others crouched. It launched his career and led him to signing a big contract with Puma — the same company that sponsors Bolt.

“I was a basketball guy growing up so most of my guys that I looked up to were in the NBA like Allen Iverson and Vince Carter,” said De Grasse, who was born in Ontario to Caribbean parents. “I never really had any track fanatics growing up that I idolized.”

At the Stadio Olimpico, De Grasse’s top competition should come from Olympic bronze medalist Christophe Lemaitre of France.

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MORE: Bolt ducks fastest rivals in final Jamaican meet

Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships

Alysia Montano
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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced four months pregnant in 110-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

In a Wonder Woman top, she gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative for people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. … I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

In the men’s 800m, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

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USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
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Lilly King to be less vocal on Yuliya Efimova topic this summer

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Expect to see Lilly King and Yuliya Efimova resume their breaststroke rivalry at the world championships next month.

It will look very different than in Rio, when King became a vocal opponent of doping and directed some of her words at the formerly suspended Russian Efimova.

“This summer, I’m not going to talk about everything that happened last summer,” King said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I spoke my piece. I’ve said everything I need to say.”

Her focus needs to stay in the pool, where she must finish first or second at the USA Swimming National Championships next week to make it to worlds (broadcast schedule here).

King said in May her goal is to break world records at worlds in Budapest in July.

She may need to in order to defeat Efimova like in Rio.

Efimova has the fastest 100m breast time in the world this year, a 1:04.82 set on Sunday. The national record put her No. 3 on the all-time list (and .09 faster than King’s winning time in Rio).

King is in third place this year at 1:06.20, though she spent all winter focusing on NCAA competition in 25-yard pools.

In Rio, King said Efimova shouldn’t have been allowed to compete given her doping history.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1, 2016, and was absolved along with other athletes.

King memorably finger-wagged at an image of Efimova on a TV in the ready room before her 100m breast semifinal and relegated the Russian to silver the following the night.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last November, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

King struggled with her newfound fame after she returned home last summer, sobbing in a winter meeting with her University of Indiana coach, Ray Looze, according to the Indianapolis Star:

It was so hard to do normal activities in her hometown – go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant – that she considered wearing a wig to disguise herself. Her likeness was on a bingo card at a fall festival, so people purposely looked for her. When in Evansville now, she said, she looks at the ground so no one will recognize her. After an initial wave of attention on IU’s campus, she can walk around without interruption.

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