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Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse wins 60 metre race at Millrose Games


THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alex Gallardo

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alex Gallardo

NEW YORK _ Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse kicked off his pro career in style Saturday by taking first place in the 60 metres at the Millrose Games.

He finished in 6.61 seconds in his first competition since winning a pair of bronze medals at the world championships last August.

De Grasse opted to forgo his last season of eligibility at USC and signed an historic US$11.25-million deal with Puma. De Grasse recently moved to Phoenix to train with Stu McMillan and ALTIS (formerly the World Athletic Center).

“Usually when you switch coaches it doesn’t go well right way, it takes some time,” he said. “I’m really happy that I got my first win out of the way.”

Puma gave De Grasse a big contract, and the timing was no coincidence with the most famous sprinter to wear its spikes, Usain Bolt, nearing retirement.

“There’s always going to be pressure,” De Grasse said. “And I think that’s why Puma gave me that contract. They told me, ‘hey, this is why we’re giving this much money is because they expect me to be there.’

“I think I’m up for the task. I’m ready for the challenge.”

Su Bingtian of China was second in 6.62 and Kimmari Roach of Jamaica was third in 6.63.

De Grasse is planning a scaled-down indoor track season after a gruelling outdoor campaign last year. The 21-year-old sprinter from Markham, Ont., is working on his starts and stretching out his racing legs as he builds toward the Rio Olympics in August.

De Grasse won double gold in the 100 and 200 at both the NCAA championships and Pan Am Games in 2015, then capped his year with third-place finishes in the 100 and 4×100 at the world championships in Beijing.

Canada also claimed a silver medal in men’s high jump, with Mike Mason jumping a height of 2.20 metres. Erik Kynard of the United States won with a 2.30-metre jump.

There were five other Canadians that competed on Saturday in track events as well.

Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Humboldt, Sask., came fifth in women’s 60-metre hurdles in 8.19. American Janay DeLoach was first in 7.85.

Khamica Bingham of Brampton, Ont., placed sixth in women’s 60m with a time of 7.25. Allyson Felix of the U.S. won the event in 7.15.

Hamilton’s Mo Ahmed was the top Canadian in the men’s 3000m in a time of 7:40.11, good for fifth. Cam Levins, from Black Creek, B.C., was 10th in 7:45.44 and Matt Hughes of Oshawa, Ont., was 13th with a time of 8:05.23. American Ryan Hill topped the podium in 7:38.82.

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With files from The Associated Press

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