By: Jonathan Yue
The first of two Diamond League finals took place in Zürich on Thursday, with four Canadians in action, and did they ever make a statement in their first appearance in a Diamond League final.
The last Canadian to compete on the day, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford toed the line for the women’s 1,500-metre event, seeking her first Diamond League title. Having already broken five Canadian records this season alone, the Toronto native showed the world she still has a lot left in the tank. A huge kick down the final 100-metres to finish in third place, the World No. 4 ranked athlete in the event obliterated her own 1,500-metre record of 4:00.26 by stopping the clock at 3:59.59, en route to becoming the first Canadian women to run a sub four-minute 1,500-metre race. DeBues-Stafford will be back in the Diamond League final on Sept. 6 in Brussels, Belgium, in the women’s 5,000-metre final.
Prior to Debues-Stafford’s record-breaking performance, the season’s bests were well underway on the track. Starting with Brandon McBride in the men’s 800-metre final. Crossing the finish line in third place, the Canadian record holder in the event once again flirted with the record of 1:43.20, running 1:43.51 in a packed Letzigrund Stadium in Zürich.
Geneviève Lalonde lined up for the women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase final, but pulled out of the race. Following the meet, Lalonde posted the following message on Twitter explaining why she dropped out of the race and how she plans to bounce back in time of the World Championships.
My legs are so tired. Today was not my day. I’m heading home to get healthy and ready to go in a few weeks #doha2019 Merci toujours a tous ceux et celles qui me supporte ça fait déjà deux pleines mois de compé et mes jambes on besoin un peu de récupération.
A five-time Canadian women’s 200-metre champion, Crystal Emmanuel was up next on the track in the women’s 200-metre final. In a fast race that saw the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uino post a Diamond League record and World-leading time of 21.74 seconds, Emmanuel was close behind, running a season’s best time of 22.87 seconds.
Michael Mason got things started in the men’s high jump, taking a clean slate up to 2.27 metres, where he had shared the lead with Australia’s Brandon Starc. The 32-year-old would attempt 2.30 metres, but finished the competition in fourth place.
In the field, Brittany Crew became Canada’s first woman to compete in the Diamond League shot put final. After raising the Canadian record to 19.07 metres at the Pan American Games earlier this month, Crew threw 18.86 metres on her fifth attempt of the competition to finish in fifth place.
Setting the stage yesterday, Alysha Newman was on the runway for the women’s pole vault competition at Zürich Central Station. For back-to-back weeks, the Canadian indoor and outdoor pole vault record holder raised the bar to 4.82 metres, breaking her own indoor pole vault record. The 25-year-old’s previous indoor best was 4.73 metres, set in February in France.
Clearing 4.82 metres on her first attempt, Newman landed in third place in the competition and continued her Canadian record-breaking streak after setting the outdoor record last week in Paris.
After the first Diamond League final, head coach Glenroy Gilbert was impressed at how the Canadian athletes faired in Zürich. “Very encouraging results from our athletes once again this week,” said Gilbert. “Two Canadian records and a couple seasonal bests bodes well for the IAAF World Championships in Doha. I’m proud of the way they all competed and looking for much of the same in Brussels next week.”
Joining DeBues-Stafford in the Brussels Diamond League Final on Sept. 6 will be Alysha Newman, looking to ride the momentum and use the consistency to raise the bar once again in the women’s pole vault. On the track, Aaron Brown will race in the men’s 200-metres, joined by Andre De Grasse who will also run in the 100-metre race. Mohammed Ahmed will be in the men’s 5,000-metres after becoming the first Canadian to go sub-13 minutes in the event after posting a time of 12:58.16 in July. In total, 10 Canadians will take part in this year’s Diamond League finals.
- Entries and results from Zürich Diamond League Final
- Official site of Diamond League Final in Brussels