By JIM MORRIS
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
VANCOUVER -- He's enjoyed the thrill of winning an Olympic medal and dealt with the frustration of battling through injury, but Andre De Grasse says becoming a father is a totally new experience.
De Grasse's girlfriend, Nia Ali, gave birth to a girl on Saturday in Philadelphia. The couple have named the child Yuri.
"It's a different type of feeling," De Grasse said on Monday. "It's a new step into becoming a man.
It's a new chapter in my life. It's going to be a great ride. I'm looking forward to enjoying it."
De Grasse is in Vancouver to compete at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic. He will run the 100 metres on Tuesday night and on the 4x100m relay Wednesday. Both events are part of the Jerome meet's China-Canada Sprint Challenge.
Escaping to the West Coast has allowed the three-time Olympic medal winner to catch up on some rest.
"It's been a little bit no sleep," De Grasse chuckled. "I get a chance to get away a little bit. I'm in the hotel and get a little sleep."
De Grasse is looking to get his season back on track after a couple of disappointing Diamond League performances.
The 23-year-old from Markham, Ont., said he finally feels healthy after recovering from a Grade 2 hamstring strain which forced him out of last year's world track and field championships. De Grasse also decided to skip this year's Commonwealth Games.
"I went back to the drawing board after a couple of races," he said. "I'm feeling better now, a little more fit.
"I think I'm really good. The last couple of races, my fitness really wasn't there. Now we have been clocking some good times at practice. Now I just have go out there and compete and make it happen."
De Grasse plans to use the Jerome meet as a springboard for next week's Canadian championships in Ottawa, then return to Europe for a series of Diamond League events.
One of the people De Grasse will race in the 100m is Aaron Brown, his teammate on the 4x100m relay squad that won bronze at the Rio Olympics.
"It's good motivation for me," Brown said about racing De Grasse. "I want to be the best in Canada. To race the reigning champion, it's always good to have that competition.
"I want to make sure I can execute. He keeps me honest, I keep him honest. We make sure we bring our A game. That's what it's all about. We want to have good performances here and push each other to do great things."
Brown has enjoyed a strong season, going under 20 seconds for the first time in the 200m. He finished in 19.98 seconds for a second-place finish at the Bislett Games in Oslo last month, becoming the third Canadian in history to dip under the 20-second mark (De Grasse and Brendon Rodney are the other two).
The China-Canada Sprint Challenge features men's and women's teams of 10 athletes each competing in the 100 and 400 metres, plus the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Points are awarded and the top team takes home $30,000.
De Grasse said he enjoys competing at the Harry Jerome.
"I have been here the past couple of years," he said. "It has always been really good to me, the fans and the chance to see all the kids.
"It's been a great opportunity for me."