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Canadian medal hopefuls at World Athletics Championships

Damian Warner Damian Warner - The Canadian Press

Canada will have a number of medal hopefuls at the upcoming World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Here's a look at them:

Andre De Grasse, Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, Jerome Blake, 4x100m relay

This group has been among the best in the world for years but finally got its taste of gold at the 2022 worlds, capped by a memorable anchor leg from De Grasse. The quartet continued their momentum with a world-leading time (now tied with Japan) in April at Florida Relays.

Having recently had their bronze medals from the Tokyo Olympics upgraded to silver due to a doping violation on the British team, the Canadians are looking to repeat as world champions, then claim the elusive Olympic gold at Paris 2024.

Damian Warner, men's decathlon

Warner finally gets his shot at redemption. The reigning Olympic champion led through four events at last year's worlds before sustaining a hamstring injury in the 400 metres. World gold is all that's eluded the London, Ont., native in his decorated career, with a bronze in 2019 and silver in 2015. However, he faces stiff competition in defending world champion and world-record holder Kevin Mayer of France and fellow Canadian Pierce LePage, who defeated the 33-year-old Warner at the Hypo Meeting in May.

Pierce LePage, men's decathlon

The 27-year-old Whitby, Ont., native has come into his own after battling injuries in past years. He broke out in 2022 earning a silver medal behind Mayer at last year's worlds. The top-ranked decathlete in the world also ended Warner's run of six straight victories at the Hypo Meeting in May. A world gold would be another major step in further establishing himself and giving him immense momentum going into an Olympic year in 2024.

Camryn Rogers, women's hammer throw

Rogers, 24, is aiming for gold after claiming silver in her worlds debut last year. The three-time NCAA champion and record holder set a personal best and Canadian record of 78.62 metres on May 26 — a victory over a name that stands in her way of gold. American Brooke Andersen is the defending world champion and threw the third-furthest throw in history at 80.17 — and third ever to hit the 80-metre mark — before her only loss of the season six days later to Rogers.

With eyes on the 80-metre mark herself, Rogers, of Richmond, B.C., may just need that kind of performance to win, already sitting fifth all-time with her current personal best.

Marco Arop, men's 800m

The 24-year-old is looking to build on what was a coming-out party last year. After finishing seventh at the 2019 world championships and missing the final altogether at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Arop won bronze at last year's worlds just weeks after running the third-fastest time in the world. Arop again owns the third-fastest time in the world entering the championships. Expectations are high for the top-ranked 800 runner to medal again.

Sarah Mitton, women's shot put

Mitton has been consistent throughout the 2023 season after a breakout 2022, and is eyeing a perfectly-timed peak. The 27-year-old Brooklyn, N.S., native has thrown 19-plus metres in eight out of 13 outdoor competitions, including seven of her last eight events this year.

Mitton tied for third-best distance at last year's worlds with Jessica Schilder of the Netherlands but placed fourth by way of a tiebreaker on their next best throw. The second-ranked Mitton is not just coming back for a spot on the podium, she wants gold.

Honourable mention: De Grasse, men's 200m

The 28-year-old Markham, Ont., native has had a shaky year coming off a 2022 season marred by injury. He failed to run a qualifying time for the 100, even missing the final at nationals before running a season-best — and qualifying time — 20.01 seconds to win the national 200 title two days later in July.

While the likes of Americans Noah Lyles — the defending two-time world champion — and Erriyon Knighton, Botswana's Letsile Tebogo and others have lit up the track this year, De Grasse's prowess on the big stage is hard to overlook. The reigning Olympic champion is never out of it until he is.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2023.