A trio of Canadians are through to the men’s 200-metre semifinals at the World Athletics Championships.
Andre De Grasse, Aaron Brown and Brendon Rodney all placed in the top two of their respective heats.
De Grasse of Markham, Ont., the reigning Olympic champion in the 200, ran 20.28 seconds to finish second behind young American star Erriyon Knighton — last year’s worlds bronze medallist — in the sixth heat.
The 28-year-old De Grasse, who qualified for the event on the final day of the qualifying window on July 30 when he won the national title in a season-best 20.01 seconds, was content with how things have turned out so far despite a tough season.
“This season has been a lot more of a struggle than previous seasons. Usually when I come into champs, I know where I’m at, I know what it’s going to take,” he said post-race. “But this champs, at first, I was a little bit on edge, I didn’t know what I’d be able to take, not trying to go too hard but still trying to put together a solid run to get a top-three performance.
“It turned out pretty well so now I’ve just got to put together a little bit more pieces and a sub-20 (second) performance could happen.”
“For the semis, I think it’s probably going to be tougher than the finals because everyone’s running so good,” he added. “Everyone’s probably going to exert themselves a lot more, so it’s going to take a sub-20 (second) to get in.”
Toronto’s Brown was second (20.08) in a competitive first heat behind Britain’s Zharnel Hughes (19.99), the 100 bronze medallist, that saw five sprinters qualify.
Brown’s time was the fourth fastest among all competitors, also behind Olympic silver medallist Kenneth Bednarek (20.01), and two-time defending world champion — and newly-minted 100 world champion — Noah Lyles (20.05), both of the U.S.
“It’s nerve-racking waiting for your turn,” he said post-race of getting to compete. “I chose to drop the 100 just to focus on the (200), because I knew there are some big dogs in the (200) this year, so I could give my best shot, put all my eggs in one basket.
“So far it’s paying off and I felt pretty good running from lane two, running 20.0, and happy to finally get my feet wet.”
Toronto’s Brendon Rodney won the fourth heat with a season-best time of 20.14 seconds.
The semifinals are Thursday with the final taking place on Friday.
In other results, Toronto’s Jazz Shukla advanced into the women’s 800 semifinals with a personal-best time of two minutes 30 seconds. Madeleine Kelly of Pembroke, Ont., failed to qualify at 2:04.72.
Richmond, B.C., native Camryn Rogers opens her quest for gold in the women’s hammer throw in the afternoon session.
Rogers, 24, won silver in her worlds debut in 2022 and is the second-ranked thrower in the world.