Toronto's Justyn Knight wants strong finish in Diamond League debut
Former NCAA star expects 'challenging' 5,000m in Rome after qualifying for worlds
It's on to the next goal for Justyn Knight, who has worked himself into better running shape this spring and recently met the entry standard for this year's track and field world championships.
Thursday's Golden Gala Diamond League meet in Rome, which will be lived streamed at CBCSports.ca at 2 p.m. ET, would be an ideal setting as the Reebok Boston Track Club athlete battles several competitors he will probably run alongside at worlds in Doha, Qatar, in late September.
"We are probably going to be going out in a pace that I've never raced at. I hope I can maintain a steady pace and finish strong."
World championship-calibre field
Closing races in the NCAA was rarely a problem for the 22-year-old Knight, who quickly became known for a powerful finishing kick. But on Thursday, he will be up against world under-20 record holder Selemon Barega of Ethiopia, who clocked the fourth fastest time in history at 12:43.02 to win last year's Diamond League final, and 2017 world 10,000 silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda.
"Once you race against guys a couple of times or watch their film you kind of pick up on their tactics," said Knight, who clocked a 13:17.51 PB two years ago at the Payton Jordan Invitational in California. "However, this isn't a championship race so there might not be any tactics at all."
Focused more on his eating, sleeping and training habits entering the outdoor season, Knight placed third at the B.A.A. 5K in Boston on April 13 and three weeks stopped the clock in 13:20.8 at Payton Jordan to beat the world qualifying time of 13:22.50.
"A lot of things contributed to the way my season started," said Knight, who lives and trains in Charlottesville, Va., under his university coach Chris Fox. "Training, diet, new schedule — I didn't have a cross-country season [last fall] — and not having school as an anchor for my overall schedule."
Ahmed ready for test in 5,000m
Joining Knight at the 39th edition of the Golden Gala is fellow Canadian Mo Ahmed, who is also eager to be part of a high-calibre race against world championship competition.
The Somalian-born, St. Catharines, Ont.-raised Ahmed prepared for Thursday's 5,000 by running the 1,500 at Payton Jordan (3:41.59) and USATF Distance Classic (3:41.30).
"I've been grinding away the last few months, putting in the hard mileage and workouts. I've looked good in practice," the 28-year-old, who was ninth in the 5,000 at last year's Diamond League final, told CBC Sports earlier this week.
Sixth at worlds in 2017, the two-time Olympian and 2018 Canadian champion has yet to win in his eight Diamond League races since 2013.
Ahmed, who won silver medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 at last year's Commonwealth Games, finished the 2018 season at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where he placed second in the men's 3,000 in in 7:57.99.
WATCH | Mo Ahmed shine in the 3,000m at the Continental Cup:
Other Canadians competing in Rome:
Johnathan Cabral, men's 110-metre hurdles (3:35 p.m. ET): Cabral of Peribonka, Que., returns to the Golden Gala after missing last year's race, looking to improve upon his 13.60-second finish from 2017. The 26-year-old ran 13.59 on May 25 to place second at the Taiwan Open Athletics Championships. Cabral, whose personal best is 13.34, ran 13.44 to win a Canadian title last season.
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, women's 1,500 (3:15 p.m.): The London, Ont.-born runner made it three Canadian records in as many races in 2019 at last week's Diamond League meet in Stockholm, where she clocked 14:51.59. In January, DeBues-Stafford set national indoor marks in the 5,000 and mile. She is making her season debut in the outdoor 1,500 racing against new training partner, Laura Muir of Great Britain.
WATCH | Gabriela DeBues-Stafford set her 3rd Canadian record of 2019:
Django Lovett, men's high jump (2:15 p.m.): The 25-year-old native of Surrey, B.C., has four podium finishes in four meets to begin the outdoor season. Lovett jumped a winning 2.30 metres at Mt. SAC Relays in April to match his personal best from the 2018 Commonwealth Games and qualify for this year's Pan Am Games and track and field world championships.
Django Lovett jumps 2.30m (7-6.50) at Mt. Sac Relays to equal his PB! 👏🏼 <a href="https://t.co/t5995QeFTa">pic.twitter.com/t5995QeFTa</a>—@_jumpersworld
Tim Nedow, men's shot put (12:30 p.m.): The 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist will try to reach 21 metres for the first time in five events since achieving a personal-best throw of 21.18 on April 20 at the Beach Invitational in Long Beach, Calif. (see video below). Last weekend, the native of Brockville, Ont., threw 20.87 for the win at the Halle Throws International in Germany.
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:
- Rome (Thursday, 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.)