Teen sensations to Olympic medallists: Prefontaine Classic men’s 100 metres packs a punch | CBC Sports

As daunting as taking the line of Olympic medalists for a professional sprinter, there may be a bigger challenge ahead for 18-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton.

“Be yourself, do not think about the press,” was the advice from Canada’s Andre De Grasse when he spoke to reporters last week about the high school student from Florida being hailed as the next Usain Bolt.

De Grasse was often mentioned in the same breath as the eight-time Olympic champion and iconic sprinter before, during and after winning three medals in his debut at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. He stepped out of the shadow of the retired Bolt last summer, and won Olympic bronze in the 100 meters and 200 gold in Tokyo.

“I just wanted to be me,” said De Grasse, whose performance of 19.62 seconds in 200 is a record. “I think now that I’m won a gold medal, it takes away that moment a little bit just to say, ‘he’s a champion too,’ not just the guy who ran against Usain Bolt.”

On April 30, Knighton ran 19.49 at the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, La., To set a new world record in 20 years and become the fourth fastest overall over 200 in history behind Bolt (19.19), Yohan Blake (19.26) and Michael Johnson ( 19.32). This Saturday, Knighton will aim for his first ever sub-10 clock in the 100 against De Grasse and seven other men in the Diamond League’s Prefontaine Classic.

“He is very young and talented,” said De Grasse, the defending Prefontaine champion, who enjoys the chance to compete against Knighton for many years to come.

SE | De Grasse defeats Kerley for 100m victory at 2021 Prefontaine Classic:

Andre De Grasse flies to the Diamond League victory in the 100 meters

Andre De Grasse from Markham, Ont., Won the men’s 100-meter dash on Saturday at the World Athletics Diamond League Prefontaine Classic track meet with a wind-assisted (wind: +2.9) time of 9.74 seconds.

The long-awaited race in Eugene, Oregon, scheduled for 5:52 p.m. ET, will also feature 2020 Olympic silver medalist Fred Kerley, 2019 world champion Christian Coleman and Trayvon Bromell, the world’s fastest 100 runners last year. The event starts at 4 pm on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Knighton ran a personal best of 10.04 on April 16 to beat 2019 Diamond League Trophy winner Noah Lyles (10.05) and take the Olympic Development Race at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic in Gainesville, Florida.

“This kid is incredible,” Toronto sprinter Aaron Brown recently told CBC Sports. “I thought what he did last year was very impressive.”

Last August 4 in Japan, Brown finished 27-100 seconds behind fourth place Knighton (19.93) in the 200 final, the youngest man to compete in an individual Olympic track final at 17 years old.

“He probably has the potential to become a world record holder at some point,” said Brown, a three-time Olympian. Bolt holds that title after running 19.19 in August 2009 and 19.93 when he was 18.

“He [Knighton] is on a track that no one has ever run at that age and it’s just a matter of how he matures and whether he has the right people in his corner, said Brown, who won his first Diamond League 100 race ever last week at Muller Birmingham the event in England. “So far, he seems very grounded and focused on his craft.”

De Grasse, who arrives at the Prefontaine Classic after running 10.24 in Birmingham, used his time wisely on the track a year ago as a training ground for the Olympics, and will probably do the same for the World Championships in July at Hayward Field in Eugene.

But the sprinter from Markham, Ont., Will not get the chance on Saturday to take revenge on Marcell Jacobs, who stopped the clock on a European record of 9.80 in Tokyo to become the first Italian to win Olympic gold in the 100. Italian Athletics Federation (FIDAL) said that Jacobs has a muscle injury, according to information during his opening victory (10.04) last week in Savona, Italy.

SE | Jacob’s first Italian to win Olympic gold in the 100 meters:

Canada’s Andre DeGrasse won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics

Andre DeGrasse from Markham, Ont., Is Canada’s first male athlete to win a medal at the Games, after finishing third in the men’s 100-meter dash.

Trayvon Bromell and Kerley from the USA are in fourth place in the world this year with a best of 9.92. Kerley ran 9.84 PB in the 2020 Olympic final while Bromell, who drove the world leader at 9.77 earlier in the season, did not make it to the final after barely qualifying for the semifinals and then went 10-level. He was added to Saturday’s field on Tuesday and replaced Jacobs.

The Americans Ronnie Baker and Marvin Bracy were part of the initial starting list in Eugene but will not compete.

The rest of Saturday’s 100m field

Christian Coleman: The 26-year-old has worked his way back most behind the scenes this outdoor season after returning to the indoor competition in January after an 18-month suspension for violating the rules on residence permits against doping.

Coleman, who has a bye into the worlds after taking 100 three years ago at 9.76 PB, went 10.09 in his lone race of 2022 at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix on May 8 in Tokyo.

Noah Lyles: The 200 specialist and 2019 world gold medalist will drive his fourth 100 for the season. Lyles has a season-high of 10.05 from April in Gainesville, Florida, and his 9.86 personal best was set in May 2019 in the Diamond League Shanghai in China.

SE | CBC Sports explains the 100-meter dash:

CBC Sports explains: 100 m dash

100 meters is the most electrifying 10 seconds in sports. Usain Bolt and Florence Griffith Joyner have been at the top of the world for several years, as they are the fastest people on earth. But how fast can people really run, and have we reached our peak?

Kenny Bednarek: He has mostly competed in 200 in recent years and won Olympic silver behind De Grasse and the 2021 Diamond League Trophy. He ran 10.15 in his second 100 race of the season on May 7 at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi and has a best of 9.89 from last year’s Olympic attempt in the United States.

Letsile Tebogo: The second teenager in Saturday’s race, 18-year-old Tebogo, got a ticket to the worlds this summer by taking 1-100 place on Bromell’s U20 world rating of 9.97 from 2014 at home in a winning race on April 16 on a Continental Tour meeting in Gaborone. He is the first man from Botswana to break 10 seconds in the distance.

Kyree King: The 27-year-old’s only two windy times in his career in 10 seconds were achieved in each of the last two years, most recently on May 1 in Clermont, Florida, where the victorious king reached the finish line of 9.98. In April 2021, he beat Justin Gatlin (9.97-9.98) in a race that included Brown and Bracy.

Four other Canadians compete in the Prefontaine Classic – 2020 bronze medalist Moh Ahmed (men 5,000), Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (ladies, 1,500) and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot and Will Paulson in the men’s Bowerman mile.

On June 5, the Diamond League season shifts to Rabat, Morocco, starting at 14:00 ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

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