Pole vaulter Alysha Newman searching for elusive Diamond League victory
'I feel this is my year to win one,' Canadian says after narrow loss to reigning Olympic champ Stefanidi
Feeling healthy and rounding into peak form six weeks before the world track and field championships isn't enough for Alysha Newman to focus on setting meet records on the Diamond League circuit.
The Canadian pole vaulter has never shied away from admitting she dreams of one day surpassing Yelena Isinbayeva's 5.06-metre world record, and it's the Russian who holds the Meeting de Paris mark of 4.91 entering Saturday's competition in France (CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET). But Newman won't broach the subject.
"I'm doing everything I can to win my first Diamond League meet and that's where my head is at," the 25-year-old said Wednesday over the phone from Germany before clearing 4.50 for the win at the Festungsspringen International Pole Vault Meet. "The 4.91 record is high but do I think I can get it? Of course, but I'm not looking at Diamond League records as much as a world record."
American Jenn Suhr, 37, has the world's leading jump of 2019 at 4.91.
Newman, though, is brimming with confidence after placing second to reigning Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi — Newman's best-ever Diamond League result — at the Müller Grand Prix last Sunday in Birmingham, U.K.
WATCH | Alysha Newman clears 4.65 metres in Birmingham:
Solid comeback season
In her third Diamond League season, Newman achieved her goal of clearing every bar on the first attempt, jumping 4.65 before calling it a day as swirling winds at Alexander Stadium made it too dangerous for her and others to continue. Stefanidi, the three-time defending Diamond League champion, managed to get a tailwind on her third and final attempt at 4.75 and won the event.
"I was ready to jump higher, was in a good spot [mentally] and thought I was going to have an attempt at 4.82," said Newman, the London, Ont., native whose 4.77 personal-best achieved earlier this year is a Canadian record. "It's very hard to win in Diamond League. For me to be one step closer, I'm excited and feel this is my year to win one."
"I feel really good," said the world's ninth-ranked women's pole vaulter, who thought she had re-injured the tendon on July 4 at a Diamond League meet in Switzerland but it was scar tissue breaking away from the patellar area. "When I jumped 4.76 [on June 7 in Guelph, Ont.] and then 4.77, I didn't feel I was in my best shape.
"My coaches [Doug Wood and Zeke Krykorka at Bolton Pole Vault] are getting me to be in peak form about now until the end of October."
WATCH | Listen to Newman discuss what she wants from pole vaulting:
More mature, relaxed on runway
Contributing to Newman's success this season is her feeling more mature and relaxed on the runway by using much of the allotted time to prepare for each jump. She took a deep breath and trusted her ability while battling the wind in Birmingham, and it paid off.
Light winds and a temperature of 30 C are forecasted for Saturday in Paris, where women's pole vault begins at 1:40 p.m. ET. Newman will try to grab bragging rights from Stefanidi of Greece, who is undefeated in four meetings this season against the Canadian.
"As an Olympic and world champion, she has this aura about her. She feels and knows she's No. 1. That's how I went into the Commonwealth Games and it worked in my favour."
Other Canadians competing in Paris:
With a season-best 19.95, Brown will look to upset American Noah Lyles, who clocked a personal-best 19.50 in Switzerland on July 5, the fourth-best 200 ever.
The 27-year-old will also compete in the men's 4x100 relay for Canada, scheduled for 4:12 p.m.
WATCH | Aaron Brown repeats as Canadian 200-metre champion:
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:
- Paris (Saturday, 2–4 p.m.)
- Zurich (Aug. 29, 2–4 p.m.)
- Brussels (Sept. 7, 2–4 p.m.)