Sprinter Aaron Brown eases into season, plans to peak at world championships
Reigning Canadian champion placed 3rd in 200m at Friday's Diamond League opener
Aaron Brown envisions running sub-19.90 seconds over 200 metres this season, though it was probably a stretch to have expected such a result in the first Diamond League race of 2019 in Doha, Qatar, on Friday.
"With this being a world championship year, the plan is to try to maintain running well early and still feel fresh toward the end of the season," Brown said recently from Florida, where he trains. "[My coach and I] are going to plan smarter so I peak later in the year. That's why I haven't done a lot of speed work.
"I'm stronger than usual [at this time of year] because I've done a lot of speed endurance work."
WATCH | Aaron Brown's 200-metre run in Doha:
Breakout 2018 campaign
If Donovan Bailey coached Brown, the Canadian Olympic sprint champion would have told the 26-year-old to go all-out in Friday's race.
"Start eliminating people you think are your competitors by beating them physically and psychologically out of the gate," said the CBC Sports track analyst.
"I would have told him to run indoors [in the winter], be busy in the first part of the outdoor season, take time off during the middle and then [resume racing] a month or six weeks out from the world championships [in late September]."
WATCH | Anatomy of the 200m, with Aaron Brown:
"The No. 1 thing he has to do this year is assert confidence," added Bailey. "He's no longer a guy that just competes or has potential. He's one of the guys that people, at minimum, expect him to be in the final [at worlds]."
To that end, coach Dennis Mitchell and Brown have focused on the last 50 metres early in the year, something the latter believes "is going to take me to that next step to go even [lower] than 19.90 that I feel I need to get on the podium at the world championships and Olympics [next year].
To help break the "mental barrier," Brown pushed his body past its normal threshold by running the 400 for the first time in March, clocking a solid 46.33 seconds that reminded the sprinter he possesses the strength and capability to push further in the final metres of the 200.
"I'll focus on the last 100 metres when running repeat 500s," said Brown, who set a 19.98 personal-best time last June in Oslo, Norway. "Where do you want to be? How do you want to look? You want to be strong. How do you want to finish? I keep putting myself in the mental space of the last 50 to make sure my technique is good and I'm not breaking form."
Last weekend, Brown, Smellie, Rodney and Benjamin Williams were second in the 4x100 at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
Brown's goals for the balance of the season include running sub-10 seconds in the 100, repeating as Canadian champion in the 100 and 200 and earning a world championship medal in Doha.
On Friday, he was challenged by reigning world 200 champion Ramil Guliyev, who posted a winning time of 19.99 to beat Brown for the sixth time in their past seven meetings on the Diamond League circuit. American Noah Lyles, who defeated both men to win last year's Diamond Trophy, didn't compete in Qatar.
Added Bailey: "Guliyev doesn't get a lot of attention but each Diamond League race he runs, he chops people down one at a time, works on technical things and race management. You need to work on things and run your best.
Nettey looking to regain early 2018 form
The only other Canadian competing in Doha was Christabel Nettey of Surrey, B.C., in women's long jump. The 27-year-old placed fifth with a leap of 6.55 metres after winning seven of 11 outdoor events in 2018, including a gold medal (6.84) at the Commonwealth Games in Australia last April.
She opened this season with a victory at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz., with a jump of 6.60 before dropping to 6.42 at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 20 in Torrence, Calif.
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, all times ET:
- Shanghai (May 18, 7-9 a.m.)
- Stockholm (May 30, 2–4 p.m.)
- Rome (June 6, 2–4 p.m.)
- Oslo (June 13, 2–4 p.m.)
- Rabat (June 16, 2–4 p.m.)
- Eugene (June 30, 4–6 p.m.)
- Lausanne (July 5, 2–4 p.m.)
- Monaco (July 12, 2–4 p.m.)
- London, England (July 20 and 21, 9–11 a.m.)
- Birmingham, England (Aug. 18, 9–11 a.m.)
- Paris (Aug. 24, 2–4 p.m.)
- Zurich (Aug. 29, 2–4 p.m.)
- Brussels (Sept. 7, 2–4 p.m.)