Damian Warner withdraws from this week's track and field nationals with sore knee_q switch laser birthmark removal

Damian Warner withdraws from this week's track and field nationals with sore kneeReigning Olympic men's decathlon champion Damian Warner of London, Ont., has a sore knee and has withdrawn from the Canadian track and field championships, set to begin Thursday in Langley, B.C. But world championships in July "is a go," says his coach, Gar Leyshon.

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Reigning Olympic decathlon champ 'being cautious' ahead of worlds next month

Doug Harrison · CBC Sports(Dietmar Stiplovsek/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

Damian Warner is the latest Canadian Olympian to scratch this week's track and field nationals from their competition schedule due to injury.

The 2020 Olympic decathlon champion has withdrawn from the Langley, B.C., event with a sore knee that has hampered the London, Ont., native "off and on all year," according to his coach.

"We are not taking any chances," Gar Leyshon told CBC Sports on Monday afternoon. "We are just being cautious with [world championships less than] a month away. Worlds is a go."

Warner was registered for a few individual events but not the decathlon in Langley, where the competition begins Thursday at McLeod Athletics Park.

At less than full health, the 32-year-old Warner claimed a sixth consecutive decathlon title in late May at the Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria.

WATCH | Warner rules decathlon for 6th Hypo Meeting title:

Damian Warner wins 110m hurdles en route to record 7th decathlon Hypo Meeting title

22 days agoDuration 4:09Olympic champion Damian Warner of London, Ont., won the 110m hurdles event, on the way to claiming his sixth-consecutive decathlon Hypo Meeting title, and record seventh title overall, in Götzis, Austria.

In March, he became a first-time world athletics indoor champion after beating Simon Ehammer of Switzerland by 126 points in the seven-event heptathlon in Belgrade, Serbia to raise his Canadian record to 6,489 points.

Warner won his first Olympic title last Aug. 5, amassing a Canadian and Games record 9,018 points on a steamy night in Tokyo.

Middle-distance runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford of Toronto was forced to shut down her season last week because of a stress reaction in her sacrum, located below the lumbar spine and above the tailbone.

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The 26-year-old felt discomfort during warmup ahead of a 800-metre race on June 6 and was forced to withdraw at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands.

Knight, Watson also sidelined

DeBues-Stafford, who holds seven Canadian records between indoor and outdoor track, was hoping for a chance to improve on her sixth-place finish in the 1,500 from the 2019 world championships. She was fifth in the Olympic final in Tokyo.

Distance runner Justyn Knight (Achilles) and hurdler Sage Watson (back) will also not compete this week.

Knight, 25, has been hampered by injury since last summer.

"It's been getting better," the Toronto native told CBC Sports, "but not where [my coaches and I] want it to be so I won't be going to nationals."

Knight finished seventh in his Olympic debut in Tokyo, stopping the clock in 13:04.38 in the men's 5,000, more than 22 seconds faster than his 10th-place finish at the 2019 world championships.

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Watson said she injured her back about six weeks before the 2020 Olympics and announced last week on Facebook she is stepping away from competition to "fully recover and give my body the break it needs and deserves."

The 28-year-old from Seven Persons, Alta., was 13th in the women's Olympic 400 hurdles last year. 

Watson also anchored the Canadian Olympic women's 400 relay team to a fourth-place finish in 3:21.84, taking more than two seconds off the squad's previous 2021 best of 3:24.05 and coming within 63-100ths of a national record (3:21.21) that has stood for 37 years.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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