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Olympic high jump champion Derek Drouin withdraws from Tokyo trials

Derek Drouin knew he was in a race against the clock, and whatever the outcome, he said he'd be proud he'd made the effort.

Derek Drouin knew he was in a race against the clock, and whatever the outcome, he said he'd be proud he'd made the effort.

Canada's Olympic and world high jump champion has ended his quest to make the Tokyo team, announcing in an Instagram post that he's withdrawn from this weekend's Olympic trials in Montreal.

"Unfortunately my body hasn't recovered during my two-week quarantine the way we hoped it would following my recent competition schedule in Europe," Drouin posted on Instagram. 

"Over the past couple of days, my team and I have decided that it is not in my best interest to jump this weekend. My body isn't ready, but I take comfort in knowing that we did absolutely everything in our power to get on that 'start line.' Sometimes things just don't work out." 

Drouin's withdrawal comes after years of battling numerous injuries, including a serious spinal condition that required surgery and three Achilles tendon tears — the most recent in January.

The 31-year-old from Corunna, Ont., got off to a late start this season because of this Achilles injury and said a couple of weeks ago "I feel like I'm racing against the clock." He's ranked No. 80 in the world — outside the World Athletics ranking bubble for a spot in Tokyo. He could have clinched a berth by clearing the automatic entry standard of 2.33 metres this weekend. His best this season is 2.24, while his Canadian record is 2.40.

Because of Canada's COVID-19 quarantine rules, Drouin has been isolating for the past two weeks, posting pictures of training on a rowing machine, and running in a backyard pool. 

"Although this obviously isn't how I expected my Olympic journey to end, I am beyond excited to watch my Canadian teammates write their own stories, both this weekend at Trials and next month in Tokyo," he wrote. "Good luck to everyone competing!"

Drouin won the 2015 world championship in Beijing, then captured gold a year later at the Rio Olympics. 

Drouin's first career Achilles tear sidelined him for the 2017 world championships. The herniated disc in his neck shelved his 2018 season. Achilles injury No. 2 all but wiped out 2019, including the world championships in Doha, Qatar. 

Finally healthy and competing in Europe a couple of weeks ago, he said he'd be satisfied knowing he'd made the effort.

"I don't know what the end of this Olympic qualifying period is going to look like," he'd said. "But right now I can say that I'm really, really happy that I'm trying."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press