Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse moves to Orlando to work with new coach

Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse has a new home and a new coach.

Six-time Olympic medalist and partner Nia Ali, an American hurdler, moved to Orlando to work with Irishman John Coghlan, but De Grasse said the move was more about a fresh start ahead of the Olympics in Paris 2024 than a controversy around his former coach. Rana Reider.

“I’ve been with Rana for three years and I just felt like I wanted a mental change,” De Grasse said. “I just wanted to try something different.

“It really had nothing to do with what was going on, I still don’t know what’s going on, because nobody said anything. Some people left and some stayed, but everyone has their own right. But I just wanted to try for a fresh start, and I love Orlando. … I think it would be good for my kids too.”

Reider, who has guided a number of the world’s top sprinters and jumpers to Olympic and world medals, is being investigated by the US Center for SafeSport for sexual misconduct. The fallout after the news broke in November 2021 saw Athletics Canada withdraw funding for training Canadian athletes training with Reider and his Tumbleweed Track Club in Jacksonville, Florida. UK Athletics has withdrawn its funding entirely for all British athletes training there.

Pending the results of the investigation, World Athletics has blocked Reider’s coaching accreditation for the world championships last summer in Eugene, Oregon, where De Grasse led the Canadian team in the 4×100 meters relay at the ‘gold. The Guardian reported that Reider was kicked out by security and called by police after gaining unauthorized access to the athletes’ warm-up area.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Reider’s attorney, Ryan Stevens, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Throbbing wound

De Grasse, 28, who is in Toronto this week for his Andre De Grasse Holiday Classic basketball tournament, won Olympic gold in the 200 meters under Reider in Tokyo. His three medals there brought his Olympic total to six, making him Canada’s most decorated male summer Olympian.

Last season, however, was largely derailed by a nagging foot injury and then a second bout of COVID-19 less than a month before the world championships. After failing to qualify for the 100 final at Eugene’s Hayward Field, he withdrew from the 200, but landed a searing anchor leg in the 4×100 relay to win gold with Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney.

He started working with Coghlan about six weeks ago, and while adjusting to a new coach usually takes time, De Grasse said the fact that Coghlan and Reider are disciples of famed sprint coach Loren Seagrave contributed to accelerating the learning phase.

“Some of the things I’ve done in the past are similar, and then there are things [with a different] kind of philosophy, method,” De Grasse said. “So I’m still learning a bit about him and the program.

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Coghlan, a Dubliner, is friends with one of De Grasse’s agents, Paul Doyle. He moved from the UK to Orlando in 2020 to work with hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who went on to win the 100 hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics, giving Puerto Rico its first Olympic victory in athletics .

De Grasse and Ali – the 2019 100 hurdles world champion and a mother of three, who plans to race in the Paris Olympics – both love that Coghlan’s training group is small.

“I felt like I wanted a little more attention to detail and things like that for my next Olympics,” said De Grasse, who lives in an Airbnb in Orlando until the family moves in. in a new home next month. “I’m getting older so I was just trying to try and do something different this time around. So hopefully having a smaller squad will help my performance.”

Return of the charity tournament

De Grasse spoke by phone Wednesday en route to the Pan American Sports Center. He laughed at the Christmas chaos that comes with having three kids. He and Ali have a four-year-old daughter, Yuri, a son born in May 2021, and Ali has a son Titus from a previous relationship.

“It’s that time of year when he’s always looking for last-minute gifts…and cooking dinner and stuff. But yeah, we made it. It was good,” De Grasse said. . “We will try not to be so last minute next year.”

He was thrilled to be back to host his basketball tournament, which took place in his hometown of Markham, Ont., for three years before COVID-19. This year’s event in Scarborough, where De Grasse grew up playing basketball for the Scarborough Blues, saw four division champions crowned on Wednesday.

“It’s good to be back and seeing the kids again and hosting this tournament because everyone enjoys it, and it’s always exciting to set it up for the holidays and give the kids something. thing to do over the Christmas holidays,” he said, adding that a few of his longtime friends and family members helped him organize the event.

Proceeds from the tournament, co-hosted by the Ontario Basketball Association, will go to their foundation and Kids Help Phone.

The controversy around Reider, meanwhile, has seen many athletes leave, including De Grasse and British sprinter Adam Gemili, European 200m champion, among the most recent. Gemili told Reuters the “bad press” around the coach had an impact on his performance.

Reider is not allowed to train without supervision pending the outcome of the SafeSport investigation, and he is not allowed to contact certain people.

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