Skip to main content

The Men's 400 metres semi finals is seen during day three of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Canadian athletes at the world athletics championships have been coping with injuries and an outbreak of a Norwalk virus at the team's hotel that felled marathoner Eric Gillis on Sunday.

The bad luck could affect Canada's medal haul, which has had a rough start at the world championships. Sprinter Andre De Grasse withdrew last week because of a torn hamstring, and on Saturday high jumper Derek Drouin pulled out because of an Achilles-tendon injury. Both were considered favourites to win medals, with De Grasse aiming for three in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100-metre relay.

Head coach Glenroy Gilbert went to London hoping Canada would win at least eight medals. But that now looks doubtful, and the team could leave London without any hardware. The best showing so far is Mohammed Ahmed, who finished eighth in the men's 10,000 metres in a Canadian record of 27 minutes 2.35 seconds. There are still some medal possibilities, including Melissa Bishop in the 800 metres, Damian Warner in the decathlon and Ahmed in the 5,000 metres.

"Ultimately you can't control injuries and that's the big thing," Gilbert said. "We set medal targets based on our past results from [the 2015 world championships in] Beijing. Certainly we'll go back and regroup, reassess exactly where things went wrong, how we can do things differently. But ultimately at the end of the day, injury is part of sport. We don't really envision those things happening – especially to your key people."

Led by De Grasse, Canadian track and field had been riding a magnificent wave of momentum that began in 2015 in Beijing and carried through last summer's Olympics, where the team collected six medals. In Beijing, Canada had already won three medals by the end of Day 3.

Gillis dropped out of the marathon on Sunday complaining about the aftereffects of the bug.

"I haven't gotten the full story but there's been a few athletes that have been quarantined, and staff, from time to time because of stomach ailments and throwing up," Gilbert said. "Right now, we're trying to manage that with our team doctor.… We're trying to figure out the best situation for our athletes."

Canadian team doctor Paddy McCluskey said seven athletes and staff have been affected by the virus including Gillis. He declined to identify the others or say how many athletes have been ill.

"We're not the only team that has been affected," he said. "It actually settled down and only a staffer was affected this morning, so we feel like we are through the worst of it but with these things you never know."

McCluskey said he is working with the IAAF medical staff, hotel management and other teams to control the outbreak.

"There's something about our hotel, and whether someone has brought it in, or there's something in the hotel, it's not clear and it may never be made clear," McCluskey said. The Canadian team's floor of the hotel has been particularly hard hit, McCluskey said, which could be from germs passed through elevator buttons, door knobs, cleaning staff or plumbing.

With a report from The Canadian Press