Aaron Brown was all smiles Saturday at a sun-splashed Hayward Field after setting a season-best time of 20.07 seconds for a third-place finish in the men's 200 metres at the Diamond League's 44th Prefontaine Classic.
Running in Lane 4, the Toronto sprinter climbed as high as second with the wind at his back before 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago passed him on the straightaway and finished in 20.05. American Noah Lyles won in a world-leading and personal-best 19.69.
"I'm pretty happy. It was a really, really strong field," Brown, 25, told the BBC. "I knew all the fast guys were on the outside of me so I wanted to be in good position coming off the curve and hold on at the end.
"It was a pretty good executed race and I'll go back to training and see if I can do even better."
American Noah Lyles set a personal best time of 19.69 seconds to win, while Brown ran a season best time of 20.07 seconds, at the IAAF Diamond League's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene Oregon. 5:30
At the Commonwealth Games in Australia last month, Brown stopped the clock in 20.34 at his season-opening 200 after posting the fastest semifinal in Games history in 20.18. He followed that effort with an identical time at the season-opening Diamond League meet at Doha, Qatar, on May 4.
"I got third [Saturday] and in Doha I was fifth," Brown said, "so I'd like to keep climbing up and hopefully go under 20 [seconds for] a personal best." Brown ran a PB of 20.00 on April 30, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.
"Aaron should be a 19.90 or 19.80 guy and dipping under that in big races," CBC Sports track analyst Donovan Bailey said last August. "He certainly has great speed endurance, but he absolutely has to run the corner harder than he has [this season] in order to dip under 20 seconds more consistently."
'I sense a different Aaron this year'
Brown ran 20.13 in the 200 final last July at the Canadian championships and finished a trying 2017 campaign with a 20.17 effort in Brussels. He then turned in a season-best 20.08 at the world track and field championships in his 200 heat race but was disqualified for a lane violation at London Stadium.
"I sense a different Aaron this year, that he has a plan to improve," Bailey said earlier this season. "He's no longer afraid to compete and when he gets to the final [of a race] he has no fear running his own race, staying relaxed and running smoothly. I'm very happy that mentally, he's finally [arrived] and can put it together in the big race."
Lyles, last year's Diamond League champion, has won all four of the Diamond League races he has entered. He ran a 19.83 PB at Doha to break fellow American Ameer Webb's meet record of 19.85, set on May 6, 2016.
Last May in Shanghai, the 20-year-old native of Gainesville, Fla., ran a world-leading 19.90 and returned from injury to capture the circuit's final event in Brussels in September.
Newman injury 'doesn't look good'
Canadian pole vaulter Alysha Newman will have to wait to test her new poles in competition after being forced to withdraw on Saturday after injuring her left knee in warmup.
"I'm not sure what the diagnosis is but it doesn't look good. She was unable to continue," Newman's coach Doug Wood said in a text message to CBC Sports, adding the London, Ont., native has battled tendinitis "for a bit."
On May 4, the 23-year-old used poles from a local club in Doha, Qatar, and placed seventh at the season-opening Diamond League meet with a clearance of 4.54 metres, one day after her eight poles were snapped in transit.
Newman, who matched her personal-best of 4.75 to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in April, was eyeing the meet record of 4.72 in Eugene and was planning to use the competition as a "building block" to achieve her ultimate goal of Olympic gold at Tokyo in 2020.
American Jenn Suhr, 36, shattered the meet record on Saturday, clearing 4.85 for the victory, after Newman had defeated the Olympic champion at last year's adidas Boost Boston Games.
Great Britain's Eliza McCartney, who cleared 4.70 to earn silver at Commonwealth Games, set a PB of 4.85 in Eugene to place second while 2016 Olympic silver medallist Sandi Morris of the United States was third (4.70).
Ronnie Baker repeats in men's 100
Sprinter Ronnie Baker finally parlayed his consistent success indoors to the outdoor track, upstaging up-and-coming American teammate Christian Coleman to win the men's 100 metres.
Baker, who entered the race with a world-leading time of 9.97 seconds this season, crossed the line in a wind-aided 9.78 seconds for back-to-back victories in Eugene, Ore. Coleman, 22, clocked 9.84 in his outdoor season debut after withdraw from the Diamond League meet in Shanghai two weeks ago with a reported hamstring injury.
Baker won the men's 100m sprint in a wind-aided time of 9.78 seconds. Canada's Gavin Smellie finished in last place in a time of 10.16 seconds. 6:20
"I expected Christian to get out on me [at the start] but after 20 metres we were next to each other," said Baker, who entered Saturday's race as the lone runner in the eight-man field to have run under 10 seconds this season. "My coach has been telling me to relax and use my arms all the way through the finish line and that's exactly what I did."
Baker told the BBC he doesn't have any timed goals in mind for the balance of the season.
"I just want to win," he said, "and show the world that I can compete at this level."
Reece Prescod of Great Britain rounded out the podium on Saturday, two weeks after recording a season-best 10.04 to win in the rain at Shanghai.
Canada's Gavin Smellie, who was a late addition, was last in 10.16. The 31-year-old Brampton, Ont., resident replaced reigning world 100 champion Justin Gatlin, who withdrew on Wednesday night with reported tightness in his right hamstring.
Last weekend, Smellie ran a wind-legal 10.01 personal best — the fourth fastest time in the world over 100m in 2018 — to win at the Johnny Loaring Classic in Windsor, Ont.
Watson attains SB in women's 800
Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta., ran a season-best 54.81 seconds to finish fourth in the women's 800 metres. The 23-year-old entered Saturday with a SB of 55.23, set two weeks ago at Diamond League Shanghai.
Watson added to her 2018 medal collection last weekend, stopping the clock in 55.58 to win at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Osaka, Japan. She was fifth at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Janieve Russell of Jamaica won Saturday's event in 54.06, followed by Americans Dalilah Muhammad (54.09) and Georganne Moline (54.33).
Russell edged out American Dalilah Muhammad by 0.03 seconds to win the women's 400m hurdles, at the IAAF Diamond League's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene Oregon. Canada's Sage Watson finished fourth. 5:09
Semenya shatters 800 meet record
Caster Semenya set a meet record in the 800 metres while controversy swirls about a rule that could limit her from competing at the distance.
The South African defended her title in the event in one minute 55.92 seconds, setting a meet record as well as the top mark in the world this year. American Ajee Wilson was second in 1:56.86.
South Africa's Caster Semenya set a new women's 800m meet record, at the IAAF Diamond League's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene Oregon, with a time of 1:55.92 5:47
Semenya is the two-time Olympic and three-time world champion in the 800. But she could be impacted in the future by a new rule that has drawn criticism.
The IAAF, track and field's international governing body, announced last month that starting on Nov. 1 it would limit entry for all international events from 400 meters through the mile to women with testosterone levels below a specified level.
South Africa has said it may challenge the hyperandrogenism rule in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Diamond League on CBC Sports
CBC Sports is providing live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at CBCSports.ca and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. TV coverage will be featured as part of the network's Road To The Olympic Games weekend broadcasts throughout the season.
The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets:
- Rome (May 31, 2 p.m. ET)
- Oslo (June 7, 2 p.m. ET)
- Stockholm (June 10, 10 a.m. ET)
- Paris (June 30, 2 p.m. ET)
- Lausanne (July 5, 2 p.m. ET)
- Rabat (July 13, 1 p.m. ET)
- Monaco (July 20, 2 p.m. ET)
- London (July 21-22, 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m.)
- Birmingham (Aug. 18, 3 p.m. ET)
- Zurich (Aug. 30, 2 p.m. ET)
- Brussels (Aug. 31, 2 p.m. ET)
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