DOHA – Canadian sprinting hope Andre De Grasse has said he's looking forward to an “off-year” to get back on track after injury that kept him out of last year's world championships in London.
De Grasse is in Doha to compete in the 200m at the opening Diamond League of the season on Friday, having finished fourth in the men's 100m at the Drake Relays last week in his return from a nine-month injury absence.
De Grasse, whose three medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics included 200m silver and 100m bronze, suffered a hamstring injury that saw him deprived of a bid for world glory.
The 23-year-old, long touted by Jamaican legend Usain Bolt as the sprinter most likely to take up his mantle, resumed training in December.
He was targeting a return in time for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in early April, but opted out as a precaution.
“I feel good, I'm pretty healthy. I'm just trying to get back to where I was before,” De Grasse said. “Now it's all about getting race shape, my fitness is good, so it's just trying to get the rust off and take it one race at a time.”
De Grasse added: “I was disappointed not being part of the worlds in London. Obviously, being injured sucks, it's not the best thing in the world especially when you want to go out there and compete with the best in the world.”
“Now I'm just trying to use that as fuel and motivation to come back stronger and be ready for the next championship.”
That will be in Doha in 2019, followed by the Summer Olympics in Tokyo a year later.
“This year is just an off-year,” the Canadian said. “It helps me out a lot too because I don't have to work too hard coming back off my injury.”
“This year is just all about preparing myself to get back in that race shape and get back to where I was.”
De Grasse will not have it all his own way come Friday, however.
Reigning world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey, 2017 Diamond League champion Noah Lyles of the USA and world bronze medallist Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago are all also in the field.
Also running is Jamaican Omar McLeod, the current world and Olympic 110m hurdler.
Facing just his second 200m ever, McLeod described himself as a “student of the sport”.
“I was the first hurdler to go sub-10 in the 100m. I want to go sub-20 (in the 200m) obviously, that's my goal in the back of my head this season,” he said.