World silver medallist Sarah Mitton secures Diamond League Final berth in women's shot put

Coming off a silver-medal performance at the World Athletics Championships, Canadian shot putter Sarah Mitton qualified for next week's Diamond League Final with a 19.76-metre throw for second place in Thursday's street competition in Brussels.

Fellow Canadians Brown, De Grasse look to qualify in 200m sprint Friday in Brussels

Women's athlete yells during competition following a throw during the shot put event at a Diamond League meet.
Shot putter Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., reacts to one of her throws during the women's competition at Thursday's Diamond League meet in Brussels. The 27-year-old finished second and qualified for the Sept. 16-17 season-ending final in Eugene, Ore. (Courtesy Matthew Quine/Diamond League)

An undoubtedly tired Sarah Mitton will take a brief and well-deserved break from shot put before travelling to her second consecutive Diamond League Final next week in Eugene, Ore.

Coming off a silver-medal performance at the World Athletics Championships, the Canadian qualified with a 19.76-metre throw for second place in Thursday's street competition at the Place de la Monnaie in Brussels.

"It's been a long season and we've been [in Europe] a long time. We left [Canada] on Aug. 8, we're at the end of it and survived," Rich Parkinson, Mitton's coach since 2016, told CBC Sports this week from Belgium.

Mitton, who had a best throw of 19.50 this week in training, led for the first four rounds of Thursday's Diamond League event before reigning world and Olympic champion Chase Ealey pulled ahead with a throw of 20.05. The American fouled on her sixth and final attempt while Mitton, a native of Brooklyn, N.S., couldn't lengthen her best throw, tossing 19.64 on her last try.

Ealey's teammate, Maggie Ewen, opened at 19.64 before recording five straight fouls but placed third over Cameroon-born Portuguese athlete Auriol Dongmo, the only woman who had already qualified for the Final following early-season victories in Rabat and Paris.

WATCH | Mitton holds off Olympic champion for world silver medal:

Nova Scotia's Sarah Mitton claims shot put silver at world championships

1 month ago
Duration 1:12
Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., finishes second in the women's shot put final at the World Athletics Championships with a distance of 20.08 metres.

On Friday, sprinters Aaron Brown and Andre De Grasse, along with middle-distance runner Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, are the Canadians competing in Brussels at the meet also known as Allianz Memorial Van Damme.

Dongmo ended the shot put season with 25 points, followed by Ealey (20), Mitton (19), Ewen (19), Jamaica's Danniel Thomas-Dodd (13) and Jessica Schilder of the Netherlands with 10.

2nd at last year's Final

Last September, Mitton had a best throw of 19.56 at the season-ending meet in Zurich, placing second behind Ealey (20.19). The 27-year-old came back to beat Ealey this past February, defeating the top-ranked shot putter in Madrid at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold series meet.

Mitton, who lives and trains in Toronto, stated before this outdoor season that winning a Diamond League Trophy in Eugene was among her goals. She also beat Ealey and others three months ago at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, for her first Diamond League win.

WATCH | Mitton wins women's shot put at Bislett Games in Norway:

Canada's Sarah Mitton captures her 1st ever Diamond League shot put victory

3 months ago
Duration 0:39
Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., won the shot put event with her first throw of 19.54 metres at the Diamond League meet in Oslo.
Parkinson didn't hesitate when discussing what sparked Mitton's career turnaround — the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Mitton stood in the shot put circle after throwing 19.02 on her final attempt and told the judges she hadn't fouled. After a review, the mark stood and the Canadian finished seventh in the final behind Fanny Roos, Dongmo, Ealey, Schilder, Ewen and Thomas-Dodd.

"That [result] gave her all the confidence in the world to say, 'I can compete against these other girls,'" said Parkinson. "Any of these girls can win on any day. That's when the mental game [begins]. You have to have the confidence, and that's the difference between [being top three] and fifth or sixth."

Mitton, who didn't throw 19 metres outdoors in 2021, did so 13 times a year later and topped 20 twice, including a Canadian record 20.33 at the national championships.

At the Olympics two years ago in Tokyo, where Mitton didn't advance after throwing 16.62 in the qualification round, she began working with Natascha Wesch, a mental performance consultant and professor in the physical therapy department at Western University in London, Ont.

It's been cool to grow from a perfectionist who was so dialled in that not performing [well] felt like my world was crumbling to now feeling like I've had more success by letting go of the grip of that a little bit.— Canadian shot put athlete Sarah Mitton

Until then, she had delivered the results in competition she expected.

"I wasn't sure I'd ever be a world [medallist] at that point, but I had achieved my goal of making the [Canadian Olympic] team," said Mitton, who had competed in Germany and trained since this year's worlds. "I didn't perform to the level I expected.

"I learned it's such a privilege to do this sport, and the sport definitely doesn't define who I am. I've learned to enjoy the moment … and you have to be fearless in life and everything.

"You can go after your dreams," Mitton continued. "You're maybe not going to achieve everything you want. It's been cool to grow from a perfectionist who was so dialled in that not performing [well] felt like my world was crumbling to now feeling like I've had more success by letting go of the grip of that a little bit more. Being able to relax and enjoy throwing for the right reasons as opposed to just being driven by success."

Parkinson noted Mitton's pathway has accelerated only due to her work ethic.

"It hasn't been easy, but she has learned how to compete," the coach said of Mitton, who threw a season-best 20.08 at worlds to become the first-ever Canadian woman to pick up a medal at the event.

Meanwhile on the track, Brown is tied for second in the 200m standings with Liberian-American Joseph Fahnbulleh with 19 points. De Grasse (14 points) is in the eighth and final qualifying spot but the two men directly in front of him, Letsile Tebogo and Jereem Richards, are not part of the field for Friday's race at 2:28 p.m. ET.

WATCH | De Grasse 5th in men's 200m at Weltklasse Zurich:

De Grasse finishes 5th in the 200 metre event at Oslo Diamond League race

3 months ago
Duration 3:52
Andre De Grasse of Markham, Ont., crossed the line with a time of 20.33 in the 200 metre, good enough for fifth place at Oslo Diamond League race.
Positioned behind De Grasse is Zharnel Hughes and Kenny Bednarek (12 points apiece). Kyree King (10 points) could also find himself in a battle for the final spot against De Grasse. Each has a 20.01-second season's best, so a tiebreaker would be determined by head-to-head record in DL events. King was fourth and De Grasse sixth in their lone 2023 matchup on May 5 in Doha, Qatar.

Last week in Zurich, De Grasse (20.26) and Brown (20.39) were fifth and sixth in a stacked 200.

Philibert-Thiboutot is among 15 athletes who will take the line in the men's 2,000 at 2:56 p.m. ET. The Quebec City runner is also scheduled to compete in the 5th Avenue Mile (1,609m) on Sunday in Manhattan, N.Y.

At worlds, Philibert-Thiboutot didn't qualify for the final, placing 24th of 27 finishers in the semifinals in three minutes 37.41 seconds. Two weeks later, he clocked 3:35.75 for fifth at a World Athletics Continental Tour silver meet in Berlin.

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Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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