Track and Field

Swiss miss: Pole vaulter Shawn Barber's struggles continue

Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber improved marginally from last week’s Diamond League meet in Paris, clearing 5.63 metres Thursday to finish eighth in Lausanne, Switzerland, where American Sam Kendricks posted a meet record jump of 5.93.

Canadian 8th in Lausanne, American Sam Kendricks sets Diamond League meet record

Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber struggled with his takeoff and in the middle of jumps Thursday, leading to an eighth-place finish at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Kevin Light/CBC Sports/File)

Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber improved marginally from last week's Diamond League meet in Paris, clearing 5.63 metres Thursday to finish eighth in Lausanne, Switzerland, where American Sam Kendricks posted a meet record 5.93.

Barber, who is focused on consistency leading up to the world track and field championships Aug. 5-13 in London, England, was successful on his first attempts at 5.53 and 5.63 before missing all three attempts at 5.73.

Barber's season best is 5.71, set at the Prefontaine Classic at the end of May in Eugene, Ore., where he met the 5.70 world qualifying standard.

The lone Canadian competing in Switzerland, Barber will fly to Ottawa for Sunday afternoon's men's pole vault final at the Canadian track and field championships. Barber, 23, would secure a spot on the national team should he finish first or second at Terry Fox Athletic Facility, as expected.

"His consistency in the run was better today than Paris, but he was not very consistent through the takeoff, so he had some problems in the middle of the jump," Barber's agent and part-time coach Jeff Hartwig told CBC Sports in a text message.

Hartwig is confident greater success awaits Barber, whose personal best is 5.93.

"Each competition has to serve as a stepping stone where he learns and improves," added Hartwig, a former two-time U.S. Olympic pole vaulter.

Next Monday, Barber will return to Europe, where he'll compete in a pole vault-only meet July 12 in Germany, Diamond League meets in Rabat, Morocco (July 16) and Monaco (July 21), plus another small meet before travelling to London.

Kendricks defeated Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland and third-place finisher Renaud Lavillenie of France in a fiercly contested for his fourth Diamond League victory of 2017. Lavillenie, the world-record holder, was second in three of those competitions. Wojciechowski matched Kendricks at 5.93m, but in three attempts to his American opponent's two tries.

The 24-year-old Kendricks has been on quite a roll of late, clearing his first six-metre vault at the recent U.S. championships and earning back-to-back victories over Lavillenie, the 30-year-old Frenchman, who was denied a fifth career win at the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise in Lausanne.

"Right now," said Hartwig, who also represents Kendricks, "Sam's run is very consistent, which leads to consistency at the takeoff if the confidence to commit to the jump is there. No second-guessing translates better energy to the top of the jump."

Kendricks nailed his first tries at 5.81 and 5.87, and made good on his second attempt at 5.93. Lavillenie missed all three times at 5.93 after clearing a season-best 5.87 on his second try.

"My main goal is to jump 5.80 at every competition this year," Kendricks was quoted as saying after the Paris meet in a story posted on the International Association of Athletics Federations website.

Gatlin clocks 9.96 in 100m

Justin Gatlin, the 35-year-old former Olympic 100 champion, ran into a slight headwind Thursday and stopped the clock in 9.96 seconds to edge Ben Youssef Meite of Ivory Coast by 0.02.

It was believed the American Gatlin would face a stern test from Akani Simbine, who has clocked six sub-10-second performances this season.

The South African, who stole the spotlight from Gatlin and Canada's Andre De Grasse with a winning time of 9.99 at the season-opening Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, ran 9.99 on Thursday to place third.

Swiss record holder Alex Wilson (10.12) was also part of Thursday's eight-man field and finished seventh in 10.17.

Van Niekerk rules men's 400

Olympic 400-metre champion Wayde van Niekerk ran a world-leading time of 43.62 seconds in his first major race at his favoured distance since the Rio de Janeiro Games last August.

Van Niekerk chose Lausanne for his first 400 race outside his native South Africa this year, and his first anywhere since April.

On a warm, still evening in Lausanne, the 24-year-old Van Niekerk added the 400 to the world-leading times he also holds in the 200 (19.84) and 100 (9.94).

Van Niekerk was 0.07 faster than the previous best 400 this season set by Fred Kerley of the United States. He set a world record of 43.03 in taking Olympic gold last August.

Diamond League on CBC Sports

CBC Sports is providing live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at 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 on and the CBC Sports app:

  • London (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET)
  • Rabat (July 16, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Monaco (July 21, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Birmingham (Aug. 20, 2 p.m. ET)
  • Zurich (Aug. 24, 3 p.m. ET)
  • Brussels (Sept. 1, 3 p.m. ET) 

With files from The Associated Press