Shot put star Sarah Mitton sees confidence soar with latest Canadian record effort
World No. 9 throws Thursday in worlds tune-up at Stockholm Diamond League
Glenroy Gilbert covered a lot of ground last weekend walking to various events at the Canadian track and field championships. On Saturday, the Athletics Canada head coach was fixated on women's shot put and the work of 2020 Olympian Sarah Mitton.
With the crowd cheering in Langley, B.C., the 26-year-old Mitton followed a couple of fouls by eclipsing the 20-metre mark for the first time on her sixth and final throw to improve her Canadian record to 20.33 at McLeod Athletic Park Stadium.
"That final throw looked spectacular," Gilbert said this week. "When she started to spin it looked like it would be something extraordinary, and it certainly was."
Mitton, who hails from Brooklyn, N.S. and trains in Toronto, arrived in B.C. fresh off an 18.98 effort from her Diamond League debut on June 16 in Oslo, Norway, and had thrown over 19 metres eight times her previous nine meets, including her previous Canadian mark of 19.58.
"Her confidence is through the roof right now," Gilbert said. "She went to World Indoors [in March] and performed well — 19.02 in the final — and I think that set the tone for her outdoor season. She understands the event and feels she can perform with the best in the world. She's in a good place [entering the July 15-24 world championships]."
Mitton will be the lone Canadian competing Thursday at BAUHAUS-galan in Stockholm — the final Diamond League meet before worlds — which is available to stream on CBCsports.ca, CBC Sports app and CBC Gem at 2 p.m. ET.
She climbed three spots to ninth in the world rankings with Saturday's memorable throw, the third longest of the season behind American Chase Ealey, who threw 20.51 on Sunday at the U.S. championships, and China's Song Jiayuan (20.38).
WATCH l Mitton had world's longest throw of 2022 for 24 hours:
After Stockholm, Mitton will travel to Alberta for the Edmonton Track and Field Invitational on Sunday before attending Athletics Canada's pre-world championship camp in Langley.
For Gilbert, it's about Canadian athletes achieving their best on the biggest stage at major championships, whether it's a personal or season best, top eight in a final or podium finish. It's a mentality, he stressed, coaches will continue to preach leading to worlds at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Gilbert recalled a conversation he had with Brandon McBride on Saturday night after the runner stepped off the track following a second-place finish in the men's 800 metres. The Canadian record holder had run 5-100ths of a second under the 1:45.20 world standard four days shy of the qualifying deadline.
"What about that for performance on-demand," McBride of Windsor, Ont., told Gilbert.
"That's exactly what we want to see from our athletes," said Gilbert, who added Canada's younger athletes have watched hammer thrower Camryn Rogers and Mitton succeed at nationals and are aware of the Olympic medal achievements last summer in Tokyo from sprinters Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown, along with distance runner Moh Ahmed.
"They're asking, 'Why can't we do that?' They're all in the same [Athletics Canada] program and that program is expecting performance from these athletes when it counts the most at the benchmark events — Olympics and world championships."
Sprinter Marcell Jacobs, one of the bigger international storylines entering Thursday's event in Stockholm, was at his best in Tokyo, where he became the first Italian to win Olympic gold in the 100 and added a second gold in the 100 relay.
In the final part of the race I could not [use] the strength that I have, because of some fear and worries about pushing too hard.— Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs on his return from injury last weekend
Jacobs began his build for worlds on Saturday by winning his fifth Italian national title, clocking 10.12 seconds in his return from injury.
"The goal of this day was to run twice, in the heats and final, just as we did, to regain the rhythm after [a] small injury," Jacobs told reporters on the weekend in Rieti.
"In the final part of the race I could not [use] the strength that I have, because of some fear and worries about pushing too hard.
"In my career, nothing has been easy"<a href="https://twitter.com/crazylongjumper?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@crazylongjumper</a> on his injury setbacks in 2022. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DiamondLeague?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DiamondLeague</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StockholmDL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StockholmDL</a> <a href="https://t.co/pwcBOf36s7">pic.twitter.com/pwcBOf36s7</a>—@Diamond_League
Slow start to season
"[The track in Eugene is] great with lots of wind in [your] favour all the time," continued Jacobs. "I'm looking forward to competing at the worlds and testing it out."
The 27-year-old had a slow start to this outdoor season, sitting out a meet in Kenya because of a stomach issue and then withdrawing from the first of three Diamond League meets at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene because of a strained muscle.
Jacobs suffered the injury during his season opener, a 10.04 winning effort on May 18 in Savona, Italy.
Andre De Grasse made a valiant charge down the straightaway in Tokyo to finish behind Jacobs and American Fred Kerley in a 9.89 PB for his second consecutive Olympic bronze medal in the 100.
WATCH | Jacobs 1st Italian to win Olympic 100-metre gold medal:
De Grasse, who pulled out of the 100 and 200 at nationals last weekend after testing positive for COVID-19, isn't part of Thursday's eight-man field in Sweden but did deliver one of the more memorable races in recent memory at Stockholm Olympic Stadium on June 18, 2017.
Fresh off his second consecutive victory in the 100 at the Bislett Games in Oslo, the Markham, Ont., athlete reached the finish first in a wind-aided time of 9.69 to beat Ben Youssef Meïté of the Ivory Coast.
WATCH | De Grasse runs wind-assisted 9.69 for 2017 win in Stockholm:
"It was a shock to me when I saw the time on the board," De Grasse said at the time. "I just wanted to run sub-10 and I didn't feel in the shape to run that fast. I'm just looking forward to running that fast legally."
The Canadian record is 9.84, held by both Donovan Bailey (1996 Olympics) and Bruny Surin (1999 world championships).
Post-world championships, the first stop on the professional track and field circuit is Aug. 6 at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial, the first-ever Diamond League meet in Poland.