Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

Brandon McBride motivated after missing 2018 Diamond League final

A confident and more mature Brandon McBride seeks his third consecutive podium finish to start the season when the Canadian-record holder races the 800 metres at Friday's Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland (CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).

Canadian runner says watching men's 800m from stands 'shaped me as an athlete'

Brandon McBride of Windsor, Ont., has noticed improvement in his leg strength during the 800 metres and it has shown in his early-season results. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press/File)

Brandon McBride and his coach Kurt Downes enter King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels ahead of the men's 800 metres at the 2018 Diamond League final on Aug. 31. McBride isn't competing, having failed to qualify two weeks earlier in England, and angry Downes has made him travel to the event.

On the flight from Birmingham to Belgium, he tries to manage a mixture of emotions, from the happiness of breaking Gary Reed's Canadian record on July 20 and winning the 800 at the NACAC championships three weeks later, to the pain from a groin injury that has flared up.

"I was going through a lot in my personal life at the time," McBride said ahead of his fourth-place finish on July 5 at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland. "It was hard sitting in the stands. There was a lot of anger but [my coach has] always been in my corner and my mentor since I was 12 or 13, so I trusted him."

A younger McBride would have been on a flight home to Windsor, Ont., the day after the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham to shut down mentally and begin his vacation. Downes, on the other hand, wanted the runner to get used to staying in Europe for multiple weeks and for his body to experience a full season of training until September.

WATCH | Brandon McBride reflects on a missed opportunity in Birmingham:

The Windsor, Ont. native finished ninth at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham and did not qualify for the Diamond League final. 1:00

"It was a good experience and has worked out in the long run," McBride said. "It shaped me as an athlete and forced me to mature in how I manage my emotions and stress away from the track throughout the season.

"I said I never wanted to experience [missing a Diamond League final] again, so it was motivation entering this season."

Minor adjustments

McBride didn't enter his first race of 2019 until May 31, opting to train for a long season ahead as the world championships in Doha, Qatar extend into October.

The minor adjustments made through drills, nutrition, hydration, supplements and weight training has led to McBride flourishing on the track. After posting a winning time of one minute 45.04 seconds at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville on May 31, he clocked 1:43.90  a week later to place third at the Diamond League's Golden Gala in Rome.

WATCH | Brandon McBride reaches podium in Rome:

McBride finished third in his first Diamond League race of the season. 3:32

"I've seen the most improvement in my leg strength and the co-ordination between the arms, legs and body position," said the 25-year-old McBride, adding he was also pleased with his finish in the two races.

"When I didn't run well last season, it was always my finish that was off and I think it came from my body position and flexibility. My legs couldn't move as fluid as they needed to over the last 150 metres, so when everything tightened up, my range of motion shortened a ridiculous amount. I was stumbling with 75 metres left."

McBride ran his first-ever road race at the Adidas Boost Boston Games on June 16, finishing second in a 600-metre competition in 1:16.24, or a 1:41.65 pace over 800 metres.

McBride will run at a Diamond League event in Monaco on July 12 ahead of the Canadian championships in Montreal (July 25-30) and Pan Am Games in Lima (July 26-Aug. 11).

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:

  • 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

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