Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

Sprinter Aaron Brown eases into season, plans to peak at world championships

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.

Reigning Canadian champion placed 3rd in 200m at Friday's Diamond League opener

Aaron Brown of Toronto has focused part of his early-season training on the final 50 metres of the 200, his nemesis throughout last season. Improvement in this area, Brown says, will help him run sub-19.90 seconds in 2019. He clocked 20.20 in Friday's Diamond League season opener. (Michael Steele/Getty Images/File)

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.

The reigning Canadian champion, who clocked 20.18 in last year's race at Doha, Qatar, followed up with a 20.20 result this time around at renovated Khalifa International Stadium.

"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:

Toronto's Aaron Brown finished in third place in the men's 200 metre race at the Diamond League opening event in Doha, with a time of 20.20 seconds. 4:41

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:

Ever wonder what it feels like to race the best in the world for 200 metres? Aaron Brown walks you through every step and what both his mind and body are going through at each point. 2:44

"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]."

Brown's breakout 2018 campaign featured 12 podium finishes across the two disciplines but he placed fourth in the 200 at the Diamond League final on Aug. 30 in Zurich, after which the Toronto native said he planned to "eat, sleep and dream that last 50" metres during the off-season.

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].

WATCH | Aaron Brown narrowly misses podium at 2018 Diamond League final:
American Noah Lyles took first spot at the Diamond League Championships on Thursday. 2:07
"Last year, my coach said I was consciously anticipating getting tired at the same spot in a race and that translated into me getting mentally tired because fatigue starts in your brain first before it hits your body."

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.

Relay dominance

Brown has also simulated the final 50 minutes of the 200 during his long sessions of interval running.

"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."

Brown, who won a silver medal in the 200 at last year's Commonwealth Games, swept the 4x100 and 4x200 events at Florida Relays a few weeks ago with fellow Canadians Andre De Grasse, Gavin Smellie and Brendon Rodney.

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.

Aaron Brown is pictured crossing the line ahead of Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev at last year’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on June 5, the only time the Canadian defeated the reigning world 200-metre champion in six Diamond League meetings in 2018. Guliyev and Brown finished first and third, respectively, on Friday in Doha, Qatar. (Submitted by IAAF)
"These are the guys I'm going to be fighting with if I want to contend for medals at the world championships and Olympics," Brown said. "Racing them [frequently] last year in the Diamond League gave me a sense of familiarity. I got to know their strengths and weaknesses, where they're consistent."

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.)

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

Broadcast Partners

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.