The country's eight fastest sprinters crossed the line in one big blur, leaving the Terry Fox Stadium crowd in suspense and meet announcers lost over who was the actual winner.
Toronto's Aaron Brown won the men's 100-metre final at the Canadian track and field championships Friday night, while three-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse finished third, in a race so tight it took officials a couple of minutes to decide the winner. Less than a tenth of a second separated the first six sprinters.
"It's great, you can't just mail it in and check off a win at the nationals," Brown said. "You've got to come with your A game, and anybody on any given day can step up and run fast, which is good for the sprint depth in Canada, with what we want to do and achieve in the relay pool."
Meet announcers initially announced Bismark Boateng as the victor in 10.16 seconds, prompting a loud roar from the Toronto sprinter. But Brown ran an identical 10.16 seconds, forcing officials to go to the thousandths of a second to determine Brown as the winner.
De Grasse, who's having an off year after last summer's hamstring injury, crossed third in 10.20.
The Toronto native won the national championship by one-one thousandth of a second over Bismark Boateng, with a time of 10.16 seconds, while Andre de Grasse (10.20) captured the bronze medal in Ottawa. 1:53
"It's always good to see these guys line up like that, you never know, it's unpredictable, it shouldn't be a predictable race," said Canada's head coach Glenroy Gilbert. "Something like this shows people like a Bismark that 'hey, you know, athletes can be beaten, you've just got to come prepared and ready to compete."'
Brown, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the 200 metres, also praised Boateng for his unexpected silver, saying "I'll be mindful of him next time I race."
Aaron Brown (centre) lunges to win the 100-metre final at the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships in Ottawa on Friday. Mobolade Ajomale (left) placed fourth and Gavin Smellie placed fifth. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
De Grasse had barely qualified for the final after finishing third in his semifinal. The 23-year-old from Markham, Ont., had to wait to see if he qualified on time, which was seventh fastest overall, enough for a spot in the final.
Crystal Emmanuel of Toronto won the women's 100 in 11.34.
'It's an off year'
De Grasse has had a slow start to the season due to a hamstring injury that forced him to withdraw from last summer's world championships. He also recently became a dad, his girlfriend Nia Ali gave birth to their daughter Yuri on June 24.
The 23-year-old from Markham, Ont., said his time was a positive result on a disappointing season.
"It was a good race, think if I had one or two more metres, I might have caught them, but definitely it's a step in the right direction from the beginning of the season, so I'm just looking forward to trying to improve on that and finish the season strong," De Grasse said.
He took losing his Canadian title in stride.
"Fortunately for me, it's an off year, it's not a world championship or Olympic year, so that takes a little bit of pressure off of me," De Grasse said. "I still want to perform well, but it takes a bit of pressure off me, so I can just relax and compete and have some fun. Definitely this is a little bit of a struggle this year, but I think the important thing is I came out healthy and I'm on the right track moving forward."
A victory this week comes with an automatic berth in the NACAC championships, for athletes from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, Aug. 10-12 in Toronto. The NACAC meet at the University of Toronto is a qualifying event for next year's world championships in Doha.
'The beast isn't always silent'
Emmanuel, who was seventh in the 200 in last summer's world championships, roared with delight after crossing the finish line.
"I'm 'the beast,"' she said, laughing. "The beast isn't always silent."
"[The season] has been rocky," she added. "I had a few injuries, so to come out here and perform like I did, that's what the real scream was. I came and defended my title for the third time."
Leya Buchanan was second in 11.47, while Phylicia George, who won bobsled bronze with Kaillie Humphries at the Pyeongchang Olympics, took bronze in 11.63.
A day after athletes battled 36 C heat, temperatures dipped to 18 C for Friday night's events at Terry Fox Stadium.
Other winners Friday included Christabel Nettey women's in the long jump, Jared Kerr in men's long jump, Rachel Andres in the women's discus, Alexa Porpaczy in women's high jump, and Tim Nedow in men's shot put.
Christabel Nettey women's in the long jump, Jared Kerr in men's long jump, Rachel Andres in the women's discus, Alexa Porpaczy in women's high jump, and Tim Nedow in men's shot put.
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