Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field·Diamond League

Brittany Crew carries 'nothing-to-lose' attitude into Stockholm meet

Canadian shot putter Brittany Crew wants to have fun again while competing and in recent weeks has turned to meditation to improve her mental strength. She makes her Diamond League season debut in Stockholm on Thursday (CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).

Canadian shot putter focuses on mental strength after recovering from broken foot

Having recovered from a broken right foot, Canadian shot putter Brittany Crew is focused on the mental aspect of competition leading into Thursday's Diamond League meet in Stockholm. Her season goal is to throw 19 metres after reaching a personal-best 18.61 in April. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

Brittany Crew's Commonwealth Games debut in 2018 was supposed to be a fun experience eight months after she became the first Canadian woman to throw in a world championship final.

But living in a crowded Athletes' Village on the Gold Coast of Australia made her feel claustrophobic. Crew also felt pressure to reach the podium after placing sixth at worlds the previous summer in London.

For much of the Commonwealth competition, the Toronto resident wasn't on track to medal. Crew was fourth after hitting 17.77 metres on her third of six tosses, fouled on her fourth and threw 17.62 on her fifth. But she managed to break the 18-metre barrier in the last round and reached 18.32 to beat Cleopatra Borel (18.05) of Trinidad and Tobago for bronze.

"It is a job to me but sometimes you get caught up in that and forget to have fun. The last few weeks I've tried to work on the mental aspect," says Crew, who makes her Diamond League season debut at BAUHAUS-galan in Stockholm on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET. CBC Sports is live streaming the event, starting at 2 p.m.

"I've tried meditation and visualization before bed and I'm reading Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence. I'm studying and have started a training journal, trying to understand that every practice doesn't have to be amazing for me to throw far."

'Rough' indoor season after breaking foot

Crew, who will also meditate at the hotel before a competition, says it has been a great stress relief and helps her get locked in for an event.

The 25-year-old Canadian-record holder is coming off a "rough" indoor season — she was rusty in the technical part of her throw and maxed out at 17.77 — following a 2018 campaign cut short by injury. Last August, Crew sprained her right ankle and suffered a spiral fracture to the fifth metatarsal in her right foot while training in Belgium a week before the NACAC championships in Toronto.

Brittany Crew battled back to win a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. However, she didn’t enjoy the experience in a crowded Athletes’ Village on the Gold Coast in Australia and felt pressure to reach the podium after finishing sixth months earlier at the world championships. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Fortunately, surgery wasn't required and Crew didn't need to rush her recovery as this year's track and field world championships don't begin until late September in Doha, Qatar.

"I was in a boot for about two months. The strength came back fast but we're still working on the stability of the ankle," says the 2016 Olympian, who plans to wear an ankle brace through this season.

WATCH | CBC Sports' Anson Henry discusses Olympic selection criteria:

Members of the Canadian athletics team express their concern in not knowing how to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. CBC Sports' Anson Henry breaks down the process. 3:25

During her recovery, a nutritionist put her on a regimen of protein, vitamin D, fish oil and collagen supplements to protect soft tissues and joints that Crew says she followed religiously.

World standard met, Olympic distance in sight

Training sessions now feature balancing exercises, proper warm up/cool down, calf stretches and small jumps to get reactivity back in Crew's ankle.

She returned to competition indoors in mid-January and met the 2019 world championship qualifying standard of 18.00 at her second outdoor event on April 20 with a throw of 18.08 at the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville.

Six days later, Crew surprised herself by setting a personal-best of 18.61 at the Virginia Grand Prix, a distance that met the new Olympic standard of 18.50 for the 2020 Games in Tokyo but was achieved five days before the start of the qualifying period on May 1.

My ultimate goal this year is to throw 19.00 [metres]. I can't search for it, it's just going to happen.— Canadian shot putter Brittany Crew 

"It happened because I had [the mindset] of just going there to have fun, no pressure, no safe throws and a nothing-to-lose attitude," says Crew, who threw a winning 18.46 on May 3 at the Elite Classic in Tucson, Ariz. "That's the mindset I'm trying to enter every competition with.

"I finally believe if I go to world championships and have a good PB, feed off the energy [of the crowd], do everything I need to do and stay healthy I could potentially find myself on the podium. I've gotta shoot for that."

While Diamond League points won't be awarded in Thursday's shot put, a strong result would help Crew improve upon her 14th-place standing in the world rankings. She's expected to challenge world No. 4 Aliona Dubitskaya of Belarus (19.21 PB) and 10th-ranked Fanny Roos of Sweden (18.68 PB).

"My ultimate goal this year is to throw 19.00. I've concluded that I can't search for it, it's just going to happen," says Crew, who was born in Mississauga, Ont., and raised in nearby East York. "I gotta keep my expectations low for Stockholm and I'll surprise myself."

Other Canadians competing in Stockholm:

Aaron Brown, men's 200 metres (2:22 p.m. ET): The reigning Canadian champion is seeking his third straight podium finish of the Diamond League season in the event after winning in 20.07 seconds at Shanghai on May 18. Brown, who also ran 20.07 last year in Stockholm to place second behind Ramil Guliyev, is second only to the Turkish sprinter in the world rankings.

WATCH | Canada goes 1-2 in Shanghai 200m:

Aaron Brown ran a 20.07 to edge teammate Andre De Grasse in a showdown between Canada's two top sprinters. 1:25

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, women's 5,000 (2:30 p.m.): The London, Ont., native's season debut outdoors will also be DeBues-Stafford's first-ever Diamond League race at Stockholm Olympic Stadium. She has excelled since moving to Scotland earlier this year, shattering the indoor Canadian mile (4:24.80) and 5,000 (14:57.45) records, the latter in her debut race. DeBues-Stafford, 23, now trains with standout British middle-distance runner Laura Muir.

Crystal Emmanuel, women's 200 (3:30 p.m.): Emmanuel, like Brown and DeBues-Stafford, is a 2018 national champion. The 27-year-old Toronto resident will be making her season debut in the 200. Emmanuel ran a season-best 22.67 seconds in 2018 and boasts a 22.50 personal-best. She'll be part of an elite field in Stockholm, featuring Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers and Dina Asher-Smith.

Canada's Crystal Emmanuel, pictured here finishing second in the women's 200 at the NACAC championships in Toronto last August, is making her season debut in the event at Stockholm. She clocked a season-best 22.67 seconds in 2018. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press/File)

Sarah Mitton, women's shot put: A training partner of Brittany Crew, the 22-year-old from Brooklyn, N.S., threw a season-best 17.69 metres in Ann Arbor, Mich., on May 3. In March 2018, Mitton won the women's shot put event at the Ontario University Athletics finals by almost three metres with a throw of 16.82, setting a new Windsor Lancers record in the process.

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:

  • Stockholm (Thursday, 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

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