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Sage Watson shatters Canadian hurdles record en route to 400m world final

Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta., ran the 400-metre hurdles in 54.32 seconds on Wednesday to take down Rosey Edeh's 23-year-old Canadian record and secure a spot in the women's final at the track and field world championships on Friday.

Clocks 54.32 seconds to beat Rosey Edeh's mark from 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta., reacts after breaking Rosey Edeh’s Canadian record in the semifinals of the women’s 400-metre hurdles at the track and field world championships on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar. (Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images)

Sage Watson said it was "time to run faster" in the 400-metre hurdles, so she went out and broke a Canadian record that had stood for more than 23 years.

The 25-year-old from Medicine Hat, Alta., turned in a time of 54.32 seconds in Wednesday's semifinals at the track and field world championships to qualify fourth for the eight-woman final on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET in Doha, Qatar.

Watson reached the finish at Khalifa International Stadium 7-100ths of a second faster than Rosey Edeh, who went 54.39 on July 31, 1996, in the Olympic final at Atlanta.

"I knew I was ready to run that time," said Watson. "My coach [Fred Harvey], last night, broke down a race for me to run 54.30, so I feel like I just believed in it and went out there and did it."

Watson's previous best of 54.52 was her winning time at the 2017 NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.

WATCH | Sage Watson breaks 23-year-old Canadian record:

Canadian Sage Watson's time of 54.32 sets a Canadian record and books her a spot in 400m hurdles. 3:48

The former University of Arizona Wildcat said staying hydrated and recovering well from Wednesday's race, along with help from her team of physio and massage therapists, will be critical to being in top form for the final.

She finished Tuesday's heats in 55.57, 1-100th of a second faster than her Diamond League Trophy victory in Brussels on Sept. 6.

In July, Watson clocked 55.32 at the Müller Anniversary Games in London to meet the 55.40 qualifying standard for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Three weeks later, she ran 55.16 to win Pan Am gold in Peru.

Watson also plans to race the women's 4x400 relay in Doha.

Shot putter Crew to vie for first world medal

Brittany Crew, who arrived at the world championships believing she had a chance to win a medal in women's shot put, will get that opportunity in Thursday's final at 3:35 p.m. ET.

The Canadian-record holder had a best throw of 18.30 metres in Wednesday's qualification round, falling short of the 18.40 auto-qualifying distance but enough to secure the 11th of 12 spots.

Canadian-record holder Brittany Crew advanced to the women's shot put final at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, with a throw of 18.30 metres on Wednesday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

"It's always the most nerve-racking thing trying to get through qualifying," the 25-year-old told Scott Russell of CBC Sports. "I'm relieved I made it in.

"The girls started popping off PBs [personal bests] in qualifying, so let's see if they can back it up [in the final]. I'm going to use [that round] as a warmup and I'll be ready."

Crew threw 19.07 to finish second in the Pan Am final in Peru on Aug. 9 before she extended her national mark for a fourth time this season to 19.28 on Sept. 1 at the Berlin World Challenge in Germany.

"I truly think I can throw 19.50 this year," the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist said before travelling to Doha, "and that would set me up for Tokyo [and the 2020 Olympics]."

Two years ago, Crew became the first Canadian female to throw in a world final at that event in London, placing sixth (18.21).

Elsewhere, Sarah Mitton of North York, Ont., didn't advance to the final after throwing 17.24. The 23-year-old, with a season best of 18.31, won her second straight silver medal at the Canadian championships in Montreal, where she threw 17.37 in July.

Seccafien sets PB, qualifies for 5,000m final

Andrea Seccafien, who thought her running career was over in 2015 because of a mysterious foot injury, will compete in her first world final in the women's 5,000 metres on Saturday at 2:25 p.m. ET.

The 29-year-old Canadian shaved nearly four seconds off her personal-best time, stopping the clock in 15 minutes 4.67 seconds to finish 13th among 15 qualifiers. Seccafien's previous best was 15:08.59, set on July 22, 2017 in Heusden, Belgium.

WATCH | Andrea Seccafien runs personal-best 15:04.67:

Canadian Andrea Seccafien's moves on to 5,000 metres final with a personal best time of 15:04.67. 4:03

"I feel like that PB was a long time coming," said the four-time Canadian champion. "I've been working really hard with my group in Australia, so it's confirmation that I'm on the right track. To PB in the heat of a world championship is definitely better than I've ever performed."

Seccafien was happy to have teammate Camille Buscomb of New Zealand in her heat as added motivation. Buscomb posted a time of 15:02.19 to qualify ninth.

"She was making these moves and I thought, 'I can go with her' and she saved my butt," said Seccafien, "because I probably would have given up."

The Guelph, Ont-born athlete recovered from her injury to meet the 2016 Olympic standard and was the top Canadian at her Summer Games debut in 20th. Seccafien didn't qualify for the 2017 world final and placed 23rd overall (15:19.39).

Rachel Cliff doesn't advance

Fellow Canadian Rachel Cliff, the national-record holder in the marathon, was 21st of 26 finishers on Wednesday in 15:41.27 and didn't qualify for the final.

She clocked a season-best 15:21.12 on July 20 in Belgium to meet the 15:22 world standard.

The Vancouver resident was a late addition to the Canadian team, taking the place of Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who was unable to run the 5,000 in addition to the 1,500 due to a scheduling conflict with the events.

Cliff had qualified for the marathon at worlds but was leery about the hot and humid conditions in Doha. However, she said she would take that risk to run the Olympic marathon in Tokyo next summer.

The 31-year-old wanted to compete in the 10,000 in Qatar but missed the 31:50 qualifying standard by nearly five seconds (31.54.88} at the Payton Jordan Invitational on May 2.

"I qualified in the 5K and figured anytime you can put on a Canadian singlet and get experience at this [world-class] level it's great," Cliff said.

The 31-year-old debuted at worlds two years ago, placing 20th in the 10,000.

DeBues-Stafford into women's 1,500m semis

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, sitting seventh midway through her 1,500-metre heat, worked her way into the top three for the final 100 and was second at the finish to qualify for Thursday's semifinal at 4 p.m. ET.

She crossed the line in four minutes 7.28 seconds, 1-100th of a second behind American Jenny Simpson (4:07.27) and ahead of her training partner Laura Muir of Great Britain, who clocked 4:07.37. DeBues-Stafford placed 11th among 24 qualifiers.

WATCH | A relaxed Gabriela DeBues-Stafford qualifies for semifinals:

Canada's Gabriela DeBues-Stafford moves on to 1,500 semifinals with a time a time of 4:07.28 6:37

On July 24, the Toronto native set her fifth indoor/outdoor Canadian record of 2019, clocking 4:00.26 to beat Lynn Kanuka's near-34-year-old national mark by 1-100th of a second.

Six weeks later, DeBues-Stafford went 3:59.59 to finish third at the Diamond League Final in Zurich to become the first Canadian female to go under four minutes.

"It's [a] ridiculously stacked [event] right now and I'm just excited to be [in] the conversation," said DeBues-Stafford, the world No. 4. "In other years, sub-4 [minutes] would guarantee your a medal but 13 women have done it this year."

Muir, who finished fourth in the 2017 world final, returned to competition for the first time since tearing a calf muscle on July 20 at the Diamond League's Muller Anniversary Games in London.

DeBues-Stafford, 24, is attempting to join former hurdler Perdita Felicien (2003) as the only Canadian women to win an outdoor world title on the track.

Osei's medal pursuit halted in 400m semis

Toronto's Philip Osei missed out on qualifying for Friday's final in the men's 400 metres at his debut world championships.

The three-time Canadian champion placed 19th of 23 semifinal finishers in a time of 45.44 seconds, 15-100ths of a second shy of his season best.

"I'm quite happy about how the season went but obviously disappointed [in Wednesday's] result," said the 28-year-old. "I thought I could have run much better, but I guess it's time to rest up and get ready for Tokyo [and the 2020 Olympics]."

Osei was part of the mixed 4x400 relay team that set a Canadian record on Saturday in three minutes 16.76 seconds but failed to qualify for Sunday's final, won by the United States in a world-record 3:09.34.

He won his first senior international medal in May, running the anchor leg as Canada won mixed 4x400 silver at IAAF World Relays in Japan. The event will make its Summer Games debut in Tokyo.

CBC Sports has exclusive live coverage of the 2019 World Track & Field Championships from Sept. 27-Oct. 6. Visit the stream and broadcast schedule, You can also add the complete event schedule to your calendar.

About the Author

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 Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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