Alysha Newman will return home from Friday's Diamond League final in Belgium with a podium finish after matching her outdoor Canadian pole vault record set five days earlier.
The smiling 23-year-old clipped the bar on her third and final attempt at 4.85 metres at the AG Memorial Van Damme meeting following her clearance of 4.75 to finish third, a height she jumped at the 19th International Pole Vault Meeting in Beckum, Germany last Sunday.
WHAT A NIGHT!WHAT A FINISH!Tying my life time best &Canadian record of 4.75m at the @diamondleagueathleticfinals !WOW,2018 where you attt 👀👀 pic.twitter.com/jLEGejRkeJ— @alysha_newman94
Newman takes home $10,000 US for her efforts in Brussels to conclude a standout season that saw the London, Ont., native clear 4.65 nine times and place seventh in her debut at the world championships in London, England last month.
After beginning Friday's competition at 4.30 and missing on her first try, she reeled off successful attempts at that height, 4.45 and 4.55 before becoming the first in Brussels to clear 4.65. That put a smile across the face of the confident-looking Canadian, who raised her arms to the crowd and later could be seen glowing and dancing on the sideline.
Reigning Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece and Sandi Morris followed suit on their first attempts at 4.65 and went on to finish 1-2, clearing 4.85 and 4.75, respectively, at King Baudouin Stadium.
Newman has come a long way since shattering Saskatoon native Kelsie Hendry's 2008 national record of 4.55.
- In a span of three months in 2016, she jumped 4.60 and 4.61 at a University of Miami home meet in Coral Gables, Fla., and London's Ribfest, respectively.
- She won the women's event at the Canadian Olympic trials that July in Edmonton, clearing 4.40.
Last August, Newman was extremely tense at her Summer Games debut in Rio de Janeiro, where she shook off a broken sleep but struggled after clearing 4.45 on her first attempt, missing all three tries at 4.55 and didn't advance to the final en route to a 17th-place finish.
After Rio, Newman joined coaches Doug Wood and Zeke Krykorka full-time at Bolton Pole Vault and made adjustments on the runway to create more pole speed and better recover energy out of the pole.
She began 2017 by setting a new Canadian indoor record of 4.65 in January at the Fred Foot Track and Field Memorial meet held at the University of Toronto's Athletic Centre. Hendry held the old mark of 4.60 since Feb. 16, 2012.
From there, Newman cleared 4.71 in April at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational at the University of Miami, where she graduated with a degree in kinesiology.
Last weekend in Germany, Newman cleared 4.75 with room to spare on her third and final attempt to secure a second-place finish behind 2017 world bronze medallist Sandi Morris of the United States, who jumped 4.80. Yarisley Silva of Cuba and Holly Bradshaw rounded out the podium at 4.70.
Newman had struggled finding a comfort level with "a pretty stiff pole" she had used since the world championships.
"It took me four meets to finally feel comfortable on that pole," she said. "It still wasn't one of my best jumps [of the season] technically, but I made it work."
Sprinter Aaron Brown posts season best
Aaron Brown ended a trying season on a positive note, running a season-best 20.17 seconds to finish fourth in the men's 200 metres in Brussels.
The Toronto resident was coming off a season-best 20.30 at last weekend's Diamond League meet in Birmingham, England after being disqualified in his heat at the recent world championships due to a lane violation.
Brown and his teammates were also disqualified from the 4x100 relay final at world relays in the Bahamas on April 23, and less than three months later, the 25-year-old was disqualified from the 200 semifinal at the Canadian championships in Ottawa for a false start.
In the spring, Brown was also slowed by a Grade 2 strain of his left quadriceps muscle that didn't heal until June. He also races the 100 and turned in a season-best 10.15.
'He has to run the corner harder [in the 200 metres] in order to dip under 20 seconds more consistently.' — CBC Sports track analyst Donovan Bailey on Canadian sprinter Aaron Brown
Earlier this week, Brown told CBC Sports he believes he could improve his hip mobility, hip strength and power-wise with his push out of the block leading into next season, along with maintaining his drive phase and maintenance at top-end speed.
CBC Sports analyst Donovan Bailey, who watched Brown compete as a 16-year-old at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Ont., agreed, saying the youngster needs to get his hips and hamstrings stronger "so he can rip out of the blocks.
"Aaron certainly has great speed endurance, but he absolutely has to run the corner harder [in the 200] than he has this season in order to dip under 20 seconds more consistently."
Bailey, who won the Olympic 100 at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, feels Brown should race indoors, starting in September, along with Canadian relay teammates, including Andre De Grasse.
Lyles wins in photo finish
"In the 100 metres, Aaron looks like he needs to work on his first 30 metres," said Bailey. "He could work on that, his mid-range speed and next year they'll be faster [as a relay squad] and make more money in the Diamond League. It's a win-win for everybody."
Noah Lyles, who missed worlds while recovering from a right hamstring strain, ran 20.00 to win Friday's race in a photo finish. His season best was 19.90, set at Diamond League Shanghai on May 13.
Fellow American Ameer Webb was second in 20.01 on Friday and 2017 world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey third in 20.02.
Blake blazes to victory in 100m
Yohan Blake won the 100 metres, beating Michael Rodgers of the United States and fellow Jamaican Julian Forte.
In the absence of recently retired Usain Bolt and world champion Justin Gatlin, 2011 world champion Blake rekindled some old form for a rare win, finishing in a modest 10.02 seconds as runners were slowed by the rain and cold at the King Baudouin Stadium.
Rodgers finished in 10.09 and Forte had 10.12.
Canada's Andre De Grasse also didn't compete Friday due to a hamstring injury.
Miller-Uibo runs world-leading time in 400
Shaunae Miller-Uibo won her second Diamond League final in as many weeks, setting a world leading time in the 400 meters at the Van Damme Memorial to add to her 200 title.
It also gave the Bahamian $100,000 for her two victories.
After a disappointing world championships, where she stubbed her foot when leading in the 400 home straight before falling out of the medals, she got her revenge Friday.