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Canada's Andre De Grasse celebrates after winning the 100-yard dash during the Inspiration Games exhibition event at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on July 9, 2020.CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse made a winning return to the track on Thursday.

De Grasse posted a winning time of 9.69 seconds in the 100 yard event at a Weltklasse meet that was reduced and spread out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He finished ahead of training partners Omar McLeod of Jamaica and Jimmy Vicaut of France, with all three sprinters running in Bradenton, Fla.

De Grasse, a three-time Olympic medalist, was considered among the favourites in the 100 metres at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before the Games were pushed back a year because of the novel coronavirus.

The 25-year-old from Markham, Ont., is coming off a successful 2019 campaign that saw him race to silver in the 200 and bronze in the 100 at the world championships in Doha.

“I felt like I was in great shape coming off of last year, winning a silver and a bronze, so I just wanted to try to ride that momentum into next year,” De Grasse said. “I’d been working on my start a lot before the pandemic hit because I knew that was going to be key to getting me to win that gold medal.

“So yeah, it’s pretty tough to go through this, but everyone’s going through it, we’ve just got to fight through it and figure out what’s next and hopefully things will get turned around, and if this is the new norm for next year, then just got to be ready.”

The Weltklasse track meet is normally held in Zurich, but only a few of the 30 athletes that participated in Thursday’s eight-event program were at the city’s Letzigrund Stadium.

Others competed simultaneously, three athletes or teams per event, in one of six empty stadiums scattered across Europe and the United States.

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