Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

Alysha Newman captures 1st Diamond League pole vault win, raises national record

Alysha Newman broke her Canadian pole vault record for a third time this season with a personal-best 4.82-metre clearance on Saturday to defeat Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece at the Meeting de Paris for her first win over parts of three Diamond League seasons.

Defeat of Olympic, world champion Katerina Stefanidi highlights banner day for Canadians

Alysha Newman of London, Ont., raised her Canadian women's pole vault record to 4.82 metres on Saturday at the Meeting de Paris, riding a personal-best performance to her first-ever Diamond League victory. (Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP/Getty Images)

Alysha Newman, who had a feeling she was closing in on her first-ever Diamond League victory, turned up the heat on a warm Saturday evening in Paris.

The 25-year-old broke her Canadian record for a third time this season with a personal-best 4.82-metre jump on her third and final attempt at the Meeting de Paris to defeat Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece.

WATCH | Alysha Newman jumps personal-best 4.82m in Paris:

Alysha Newman wins pole vault in Paris by clearing 4.82m, sets new Canadian record. 0:52

"I'm so excited," a beaming Newman said after her victory. "I've been trying to jump this high for about three years. We still have six weeks [until the world championships in Doha, Qatar] but I'm heading in the right direction."

First, Newman will battle for the Diamond Trophy and $50,000 US first prize on Sept. 6 in Brussels after finishing third behind Stefanidi (4.85) — the three-time defending Diamond League champion — and American Sandi Morris (4.75) at the 2017 Diamond League final in Belgium.

"I think what I've learned the most about Katerina is how consistent she is," said Newman, who won her third Canadian title in the past four years last month in Montreal. "Any day she competes, she knows she could jump between 4.60 and 4.75 and Diamond League meets are being won this season at 4.75, 4.80."

Newman cleared 4.77 on her third attempt on July 17 to finish on top of the podium at the Stabhochsprung Jockgrim meet in Germany. Less than six weeks earlier, she jumped 4.76 at the Speed River Inferno track and field meet in Guelph, Ont., topping her Canadian record of 4.75 achieved during her 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal performance.

WATCH | Newman on Saturday's win: 'The first step to open 1,000 doors'

Canada's Alysha Newman reflects on her first Diamond League win, while setting a new Canadian record in women's pole vault. 1:32

The London, Ont., native missed a chance to qualify for last year's Diamond League final after suffering a partial tear in the middle of her left patellar tendon, which attaches the bottom of the kneecap to the top of the shinbone, but has rebounded strongly in 2019 and ranked ninth in the world entering this weekend.

"It was so sad watching all the girls compete last year while I was eating donuts on my couch," Newman said, laughing. "For me to be competitive [now] that's what I'm really excited about."

Newman's performance fell nine centimetres shy of American Jennifer Suhr's year-leading mark of 4.91. The 37-year-old entered Saturday's competition at 4.55 and missed all three of her attempts.

The Diamond League mark of 5.00 belongs to world No. 2 Morris, who like Stefanidi cleared 4.75 on Saturday but had five missed attempts to her opponent's four to finish third.

3-time Canadian champion

Newman entered Saturday's event at 4.55m and sat first after clearing her first attempt. Newman need a second try to clear 4.65 and regained the lead when she was the lone woman of six to jump 4.75 on her first attempt.

"I took one bar at a time and I felt that's what helped me succeed," said Newman.

Saturday's victory also meant Newman finished higher than Stefanidi at a Diamond League event for the first time in five meetings this season. The Canadian entered Saturday's competition brimming with confidence after placing second to her friend and rival at the Müller Grand Prix last Sunday in Birmingham, U.K.

WATCH | Newman jumps 4.65m to finish 2nd in Birmingham:

Alysha Newman finishes second in the women's pole vault event in Birmingham with clearance of 4.65 metres. 0:41

Newman achieved her goal of clearing every bar on the first attempt a week ago, 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 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, who cleared 4.50 for the win at the Festungsspringen International Pole Vault Meet on Wednesday in Germany. "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."

Lyles breaks Bolt's meet record in 200m

Aaron Brown, who repeated as Canadian champion in the men's 200 metres on July 28, finished third on Saturday in 20.13 seconds.

The 27-year-old began the day having already secured a berth in the Diamond League final at Brussels.

WATCH | Aaron Brown races to 3rd behind Lyles' pace:

Canada's Aaron Brown finishes 3rd with a time of 20.13. 2:24

Noah Lyles of the United States eclipsed eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt's meet record of 19.73, beating his closest competitor, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey, by three metres with a winning time of 19.65.

"I blinked and all of a sudden the race was over," said Lyles, whose season- and personal-best is 19.50. "When I was coming off the turn it felt like such a fast track, the fastest I've ever felt coming off the turn."

American Noah Lyles charges to the finish line in a meet record 19.65 seconds to beat Usain Bolt’s previous mark of 19.73 at the Meeting de Paris. Reigning world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey was second, followed by 2019 Canadian champion Aaron Brown. (Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP/Getty Images)
Guliyev, the reigning world champion, clocked 20.01 but hasn't dipped under 20 seconds since his season-opening victory in 19.99 on May 3 in Doha.

Later Saturday, Brown anchored Canada's 4x100 relay team to victory in a meet record and season-best 38.26 seconds. Gavin Smellie, Brendon Rodney and Jerome Blake are the other members of the squad that defeated France (38.67) and Turkey (39.00) for top spot on the podium.

WATCH | Canada edges France to win 4x100 relay:

The Canadian squad of Gavin Smellie, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Aaron Brown win the 4x100 relay with a time 38.26. 3:02

McBride in top form for Diamond League final

Brandon McBride prepared for his first Diamond League final on Aug. 29 in Zurich, Switzerland, with a season-best performance.

The native of Windsor, Ont., went out quickly in the men's 800 metres on Saturday and stayed behind pacesetter Harun Adba throughout before a visibly exhausted McBride held off Wesley Vázquez of Puerto Rico over the final 100 metres to post a winning time of one minute 43.78 seconds.

WATCH | Brandon McBride runs to 800m victory:

Canada's Brandon McBride finishes 1st with a season's best time of 1:43.78. 3:21

The race wasn't a points-scoring Diamond League event, but McBride had already secured his spot in next week's season finale, having entered Saturday's competition fifth in the standings with 15 points in three events.

McBride's previous fastest 800 this season was 1:43.83, set at a Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 12.

The 25-year-old was coming off his third Canadian title in four years and fourth overall after clocking 1:44.63 on July 27 in Montreal.

Vazquez's time of 1:43.83 is a Puerto Rican record, while Michael Saruni of Kenya was third in 1:44.41.

Mason rules men's high jump

Canadian high jumper Mike Mason picked up his first Diamond League win of 2019, clearing 2.28 metres for his highest leap since opening the outdoor campaign with a winning height of 2.31 on April 5 at the Sam Adams Combined Events Invitational in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The 32-year-old from Nanoose Bay. B.C, earned eight points for the victory and moved to 10th in the Diamond League standings to qualify for next week's final in Zurich.

"I know I needed a really good placing today and I don't think I could have done much better," Mason said. "It would have been nice to get another good attempt at 2.30 but overall I'm really happy with how I competed."

Mason has collected three other victories this season, including a Canadian title in Montreal on July 27, and has reached the podium in seven of nine competitions.

After a season-low jump of 2.21 metres in early July, Mason picked things up at nationals with a winning leap of 2.26 and went 2.28 on Aug. 9 to capture a silver medal at the Pan Am Games in Peru.

"Everything's been going well in practice," he said. "I'm trying to get in a good rhythm and I feel like I've done that in my last two competitions and it just keeps feeling better."

WATCH | Mike Mason builds off success at nationals, Pan Am Games:

Canada's Michael Mason finishes 1st with a jump of 2.28. 0:46

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:

  • Diamond League final, Zurich (Aug. 29, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Diamond League final, Brussels (Sept. 6, 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

With files from The Associated Press

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