Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field·Diamond League

Mo Ahmed resets own 5,000m Canadian record; Justyn Knight sets PB in same event

Mo Ahmed set a new Canadian record at 12 minutes 58.16 seconds while teammate and fellow 5,000-metre competitor Justyn Knight ran a personal-best 13:09.76 in his Diamond League debut at the Golden Gala in Rome on Thursday.

Runners meet Olympic standard; National-record holder Brandon McBride 3rd in 800

Mo Ahmed lowered his own Canadian record in the men's 5,000 metres in his Diamond League season debut on Thursday at the Golden Gala in Rome. The Somalian-born, St. Catharines, Ont-raised Ahmed clocked 12 minutes 58.16 seconds to top his previous best of 13:01.74, set in 2016. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images/File)

Mo Ahmed didn't earn an elusive first victory on the Diamond League circuit Thursday, but he did lower his Canadian-record time in the men's 5,000 metres, clocking 12 minutes 58.16 seconds to finish sixth while teammate Justyn Knight placed 10th in a personal-best 13:09.76 in his Diamond League debut.

Ahmed, 28, bested his own mark of 13:01.74, set in 2016 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., and met the qualifying standard for next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Somalian-born, St. Catharines, Ont.-raised Ahmed has now gone nine Diamond League races without a win since 2013.

The 2018 Canadian champion and two-time Olympian won silver medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 at last year's Commonwealth Games.

Knight, the former NCAA star runner at Syracuse University who joined Reebok Boston Track Club last summer, also reached the Olympic standard of 13:13.50 in Thursday's race.

The 22-year-old Toronto native, who now lives and trains in Charlottesville, Va., clocked a 13:17.51 PB two years ago at the Payton Jordan Invitational in California.

Focused more on his eating, sleeping and training habits entering this outdoor season, Knight placed third at the B.A.A. 5K in Boston on April 13 and three weeks ago stopped the clock in 13:20.8 at Payton Jordan to beat the world qualifying time of 13:22.50.

1 second off Canadian mark

Ethiopia ran away with the top three spots in the race as Telahun Haile Bekele, Selemon Barega and Hagos Gebrhiwet, posted times under 12:55.

In the women's 1,500, Canada's Gabriela Stafford ran 4:01.28 and shaved her PB by over two seconds for a fifth-place finish.

The former Toronto resident, now living in Scotland, also fell 1.01 seconds shy of Lynn Kanuka's national record of 4:00.27, set on Aug. 14, 1985. At the time, Kanuka went by Lynn Williams.

Stafford entered Thursday's race having established three Canadian records in as many races in 2019.

The 23-year-old former University of Toronto athlete's time fell within the world championship (4:06.50) and Olympic (4:04.20) standards.

Stafford had previously qualified for worlds & Olympics in the women's 5,000.

Elsewhere, Brandon McBride of Windsor, Ont., roared back to earn third place in the 800, stopping the clock in 1:43.90. The 24-year-old opened his outdoor season a week ago at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville with a winning time of 1:45.04.

WATCH | McBride bolts to 3rd-place finish:

McBride finished third in his first Diamond League race of the season. 3:32
McBride failed to qualify for the Diamond League final last August, a disappointing end to a 2018 campaign that saw him shatter Gary Reed's 10-year-old Canadian mark (1:43.20) and place second at nationals.

On Thursday, McBride's lacklustre start prevented another record, but a strong finish still pushed him into third. American Donovan Brazier won the race in 1:45.63, edging Botswana's Nigel Amos by 2-100ths of a second.

Meanwhile, Sage Watson, 25, struggled to a seventh-place finish in women's 400 hurdles out of the first lane, with the Medicine Hat, Alta., native posting a time of 55.71.

Watson had opened her individual outdoor campaign three days earlier with a 55.76 clocking in the Czech Republic, 1.2 seconds off her 2018 season-best of 54.55. She was hobbled by a sprained right foot in 2018, forcing her to miss the Canadian and NACAC championships.

Americans Dalilah Muhammad (53.67) and Shamier Little (54.40) took the top two spots on Thursday, with Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic (54.82) placing third.

Other Canadian results:

  • Johnathan Cabral, men's 110 hurdles: 8th, 13.61 seconds
  • Django Lovett, men's high jump: 9th, 2.19 metres
  • Tim Nedow, men's shot put: 7th, 20.57 metres

Norman beats fellow American Lyles in 100m

Michael Norman clocked a world-leading time in the men's 200 meters to edge out fellow American Noah Lyles at the Golden Gala meet on Thursday.

Norman's time of 19.70 seconds was also a meet record at the Diamond League event and a personal best for the 21-year-old, who was just two hundredths of a second ahead of Lyles.

"I am really happy with the time, there was a good flow, it was amazing," Norman said. "I changed a few things race pattern-wise. I was a lot stronger today and I tried to hold the composure … I am just happy now if I am progressing like this."

Norman and Lyles, who is also 21, have established themselves as two of the most exciting sprint talents in the world.

"This race didn't really go as expected, winning is what is always expected, but I run faster than in the last race so I can feel great things will happen," Lyles said.

Alex Quinonez of Ecuador was third in 20.17.

In the women's 100 meters, double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica also ran the fastest time of the year as she came from behind to beat triple European champion Dina Asher-Smith in 10.89.

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:

  • 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.)

With files from The Associated Press

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