Derek Drouin

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Olympic high jump champion to miss worlds; another blow for Canada

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Canadian Derek Drouin, the reigning Olympic and world high jump champion, will not defend his world title in London this weekend due to an Achilles tendon injury.

Drouin, a 27-year-old from the University of Indiana, has not competed since June 15, according to Tilastopaja.org, due in part to the injury.

“I knew I was dealing with an injury that would make my chances of competing come down to the wire,” Drouin said in an Athletics Canada press release. “My support team did everything they could to give my Achilles time to heal, we didn’t want to rush back. We just ran out of time. I’ve been progressing, but wasn’t able to get into championship level shape that I expect of myself.”

Drouin had a top high jump clearance this year of 2.33 meters, which ties for fourth in the world for 2017. Drouin won in Rio with a 2.38-meter clearance and at the 2015 Worlds with a 2.34-meter clearance.

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim was the overwhelming favorite in London even before Drouin’s withdrawal. Barshim owns Olympic silver and bronze and a 2013 World silver medal but has no global outdoor titles. He has cleared 2.36 meters or better at three different meets this year. Nobody else has cleared higher than 2.35 meters.

Before the Achilles injury, Drouin had been training for the decathlon with an eye on multi-eventing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Drouin’s absence is the latest blow for Canada, which claimed six medals in Rio (its most since 1932) and a national recod eight at the 2015 Worlds.

Andre De Grasse, a triple Rio sprint medalist, withdrew before worlds with a strained hamstring.

Oslo Diamond League preview, broadcast schedule

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Caster Semenya and Andre De Grasse headline a Diamond League meet in Oslo, live on Thursday starting at 12:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and 2 p.m. on NBCSN.

The Olympic champion Semenya puts her 16-meet winning streak on the line in the 800m against the Rio silver and bronze medalists.

De Grasse, a three-time Olympic medalist for Canada, could be the top challenger to Usain Bolt in Bolt’s final individual race at the world championships in August. But De Grasse finished fourth and fifth in his first two Diamond League 100m races this season. He needs a win in Oslo to stay in the gold-medal conversation.

U.S. athletes in Oslo are preparing for the national championships in Sacramento, Calif., next week. At nationals, the top three per event will qualify for worlds.

Oslo start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

12:15 p.m. — Women’s pole vault
1:57 — Men’s discus
1:57 — Women’s discus
2:03 — Men’s 400m
2:12 — Men’s high jump
2:17 — Women’s 100m hurdles
2:20 — Women’s long jump
2:45 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
3:03 — Men’s 100m
3:10 — Women’s 800m
3:25 — Men’s 400m hurdles
3:40 — Women’s 200m
3:50 — Men’s 1500m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s/Women’s Discus — 1:57 p.m. ET

The men’s and women’s discus events are held simultaneously this season for the first time. The last four Olympic champions are represented in Oslo — German brothers Robert and Christoph Harting and Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 women’s gold medalist.

Neither Harting has been particularly impressive in limited action so far this season. Instead, Jamaican Fedrick Dacres owns the two best throws of 2017. Jamaica reigns in the sprints, but it has never had a Diamond League winner in a throwing event.

Perkovic puts her 15-meet winning streak on the line against Rio silver medalist Mélina Robert-Michon of France and Rio bronze medalist Denia Caballero of Cuba.

Men’s High Jump — 2:12 p.m. ET

The best field of the meet. The top five from the Rio Olympics are entered, led by gold medalist Derek Drouin of Canada. But Drouin no-heighted in his 2017 Diamond League debut in Shanghai.

Instead, the favorite Thursday is Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim. The Rio silver medalist has won all four of his competitions this year, clearing heights that nobody in the world has matched in 2017.

Men’s 100m — 3:03 p.m. ET

De Grasse, the Olympic 100m bronze medalist and 200m silver medalist, could really use a win here. Only one man in the field has broken 9.90 in his career or 10.0 this season, and it’s not the Canadian phenom. It’s veteran Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut.

In De Grasse’s favor: His fourth- and fifth-place 100m finishes earlier this season were against stronger fields, and he’s coming off a 200m win last week in Rome. He may be rounding into form as the Canadian Championships approach in early July.

Women’s 800m — 3:10 p.m. ET

The scrutinized Semenya hasn’t lost since 2015, but she’s looking vulnerable. Kenyan Margaret Wambui, who took bronze in Rio 1.6 seconds behind Semenya, closed the gap in their first two meetings this season.

Wambui made Semenya run hard through the line in Doha (losing by a respectable .42) and then scared Semenya in Eugene three weeks later (losing by one tenth of a second). This time last year, Semenya was winning races by one second, so relaxed it looked like she could have gone one or two seconds faster.

Now, Wambui is a worthy challenger in Oslo.

Women’s 200m — 3:40 p.m. ET

Olympic silver medalist Dafne Schippers is the class of the field. Nobody else is ranked in the top 35 in the world this year, so the Dutchwoman is more racing against the top 200m times posted elsewhere in 2017.

The target will be to get near Tori Bowie‘s world-leading 21.77 seconds set at the Pre Classic, where Schippers was fourth in 22.30, her lowest 200m finish in five years.

A more realistic goal for Schippers would be to break 22 seconds, which she did in winning Oslo last year.

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Olympic 100m rematch highlights Shanghai Diamond League

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Elaine Thompson and Tori Bowie match up Saturday for the first time since they shared the podium three times in Rio, live on Universal HD and NBC Sports Gold.

Thompson and Bowie headline the women’s 100m at the second Diamond League meet of the season in Shanghai. Meet coverage runs from 7-9 a.m. ET.

Thompson, who swept the 100m and 200m in Rio, ought to be the favorite. The Jamaican clocked 10.75 seconds in her first 100m since Rio on April 15. It was slightly wind-aided (2.2 meters/second), but only two women have broken 11 seconds with legal wind this year, and neither of them are in the Shanghai field.

Bowie, who took 100m silver and 200m bronze in Rio, ran an even windier 10.80 (3.3 meters/second tailwind), also on April 15. Bowie followed that up with a 22.09-second 200m on April 28, with a slight headwind, the fastest time in that event in the world this year.

However, Thompson clocked 22.19 with greater headwind (2.3 meters/second) in a Diamond League 200m last week.

With two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce out due to pregnancy, the 24-year-old Thompson and 26-year-old Bowie could be the head-to-head force of the 100m for some time. Shanghai will mark the second time they’ve been in the same 100m race.

Shanghai start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

5:45 a.m. — Women’s shot put
6:35 — Men’s high jump
6:45 — Men’s pole vault
6:50 — Men’s discus
6:50 — Women’s discus
7:03 — Men’s 400m hurdles
7:10 — Women’s 1500m
7:24 — Men’s 100m
7:27 — Men’s long jump
7:34 — Women’s 400m
7:42 — Men’s 800m
7:51 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
8:11 — Women’s 100m
8:20 — Men’s 200m
8:27 — Women’s 5000m
8:53 — Men’s 110m hurdles

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s High Jump — 6:35 a.m. ET

Olympic champion Derek Drouin of Canada faces his toughest field since Rio. It includes Olympic silver medalist Mutaz Barshim of Qatar, world silver medalist Zhang Guowei of China and the top American, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard.

Drouin may be somewhat vulnerable to his first outdoor loss since last July given he has been training for the decathlon with an eye on multi-eventing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Men’s Pole Vault — 6;45 a.m. ET

All three Olympic medalists, plus the 2015 World gold and silver medalists, make up the best field-event group of the Shanghai meet.

Brazilian Thiago Braz and France’s Renaud Lavillenie both compete outdoors for the first time this year after Braz surprisingly prevailed in their Rio duel. They’re joined by Rio bronze medalist Sam Kendricks of the U.S., plus the top two from the 2015 Worlds — Canadian Shawn Barber and German Raphael Holzdeppe.

All of these men will be chasing the best outdoor clearance in the world this year, 5.90 meters by 17-year-old Swede Armand Duplantis, a Louisiana high schooler who is not in Shanghai.

Men’s 800m — 7:42 a.m. ET

Two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha races for the first time since September. He’ll be looking for a better outing in Shanghai than a year ago, when he faded to fifth after being caught off-guard by the starter’s gun.

Rudisha faces no other Olympic medalists in the Shanghai field, but it does include 2015 World silver medalist Adam Kszczot of Poland. Plus, both Kenyans who made the 2015 World and 2016 Olympic finals with Rudisha.

U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who is not in the Shanghai field, has the fastest time in the world this year of 1:43.60.

Women’s 100m — 8:11 a.m. ET

This field includes five of the eight Olympic finalists, headlined by the gold and silver medalists Thompson and Bowie. The winner between them becomes the early favorite for the world championships in August.

Potential Shanghai spoilers include Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta and two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Men’s 110m hurdles — 8:53 a.m. ET

A total of 20 men in history have broken 13 seconds in the 110m hurdles. Six of them are in Shanghai. It is slated to be the first time six men with sub-13 times already to their name race a 110m hurdles. Shanghai had a field of six sub-13 men last year, but two of them false started out.

It features the last two Olympic champions — Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt — the last two world champions — Russian Sergey Shubenkov and American David Oliver — and Olympic medalists Hansle Parchment (Jamaica) and Orlando Ortega (Spain).

Shanghai has different meanings for different men. McLeod is already two tenths faster than any other man in the world this year. He’s looking to cement his world championships favorite status.

Ortega, after taking silver to McLeod in Rio, beat the Jamaican at their last Diamond League meeting last summer. He could be the most worthy challenger.

Shubenkov hasn’t competed internationally since 2015 due to Russia’s track and field ban. Merritt, Oliver and Parchment are all looking for bounce-back seasons after missing the Rio Olympics.

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