A late addition to the men’s 100 metres, Toronto sprinter Aaron Brown came out on top near the finish line to win his first-ever Diamond League race over the distance on Saturday in England.
Brown ran 10.13 seconds into a slight headwind at Alexander Stadium after American Trayvon Bromell and reigning European champion Zharnel Hughes of Britain were disqualified for false starts.
Jamaican Yohan Blake was second in 10.18 when meeting Müller Birmingham, followed by his cousin Jerome Blake (10.20) and Canadian teammate Andre De Grasse (10.24).
“False starts happen and I’ve been in races like this before, so I just focus on my signals and wait for the [start] gun,” Brown, who clocked 10.23 earlier in the day in a “B” race, told CBC Sports. “I knew people would be worried after the false starts, so I just told to carry on as if nothing had happened and I should have a good start.”
WATCH | Brown winner of the men’s 100m of the Diamond League season:
Brown, who replaced the injured Marvin Bracy of the United States, changed his approach entering the outdoor season and wanted to run over 100 and under 200 – his signature event – to find better balance and keep his body “fresh” before the month of July. 15-24 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Saturday’s run was his fourth 100 of 2022, matching his total from last season, as he took the line twice this season in the 200.
“I put a lot of work into the 100 and I know I’m a pace runner,” he said, “so the more I run the better I’ll be. … I’m so happy with how [it’s] played so far.”
1st relay from his Olympic podium
Later Saturday, Brown, Brendon Rodney, Blake and De Grasse posted a winning time of 38.31 seconds in the men’s 4x100m relay, a non-Diamond League points race.
Brown’s previous best performances in a Diamond League 100 were a pair of fifth-place finishes – last July in Stockholm (10.18) on the heels of a third straight Canadian title and June 2017 in Oslo, Norway (10.18). 15).
The three-time Olympian opened the Diamond League season a week ago in the 200 in Doha, Qatar, placing fifth after finishing fourth in the 2021 Diamond League Final and sixth in Tokyo.
Saturday’s relay event was the first time the Canadian men have shared the track in nine months since crossing the finish line in third place at the Tokyo Olympics. They were hosed down at the Florida Relays in early April.
Earlier this week Brown said he believed he could run in less than 38 seconds in Birmingham with clean handoffs, the team crash and ‘the difference between bronze and gold’ in the Olympic final when Italy clocked 37.70 ahead of Great Britain (37.51).
“The relay was a solid effort overall [on Saturday]“, said Brown, who ran the first stage. “I was actually very cramped before the race, the relay being my third of the day. I thought it might dissipate by the time we ran, but it actually picked up again, so I suspect my run wasn’t as strong as it could have been. The rest of the team did well to take the win.”
Brown added that they will no longer race until the world championships.
On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee approved Brown and company’s Olympic upgrade to silver following a board meeting. Great Britain was disqualified following CJ Ujah’s doping violation.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Marco Arop of Edmonton rebounded in the men’s 800, overtaking France’s Benjamin Robert with a winning time of 1:45.41. Last week in Doha, 23-year-old Arop finished third in his first outdoor game of the season, clocking 1:49.51 in a slow run.
WATCH | Arop leads the pack in the men’s 800m:
Ranked third in the world, Arop is looking to redeem himself this season after failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. He will also try to break Brandon McBride’s Canadian record after being less than 6 hundredths of a second in 1:43.26 at the Diamond League Monaco last July.
Bryce Hoppel of the US, was third in Birmingham in a season best 1:46.33 after finishing 15th at his first Olympics last year.
High jumper Django Lovett of Surrey, B.C., won Saturday’s men’s event with a clearance of 2.28 meters, beating Italian Gianmarco Tamberi (2.25) and Norbert Kobielski of Poland (2.25).
WATCH | Lovett leaps to victory in Birmingham:
Lovett, who cleared 2.27 to finish third in Doha, won her first Canadian title a year ago with a personal best 2.33 before finishing eighth (2.30) in her Olympic debut.
Lindsey Butterworth of North Vancouver, B.C. returned to Diamond League action in the women’s 800m for the first time since making her debut in 2018 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. She finished seventh in the field of 10, stopping the clock in 2:01.20.
Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson topped the field in 1:58.63 ahead of France’s Renelle Lamote (1:59.53) and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule (2:00.13).
WATCH | Butterworth 7th in the women’s 800m after a 3-year absence from the Diamond League:
Butterworth was coming off a season-best 1:59.59 — 9 100ths off the 2022 Women’s World Championship standard — at the Sound Running Track Meet on May 6 in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Earlier this year indoors, she set personal bests in the 800 (2:01.45) and mile (4:40.00) and was sixth in the 800 (2:03.21) at the world championships in March.
The difference already this season for the 29-year-old compared to her pre-Olympic competitions a year ago is being part of a deep field in several championship-caliber races.
“[She] did not have the opportunity [last year] in North America to practice [necessary] forward tactics and strategies [her first Games] due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Butterworth coach Brit Townsend recently told CBC Sports. her in the race.
“I think Lindsey was disappointed in her. [32nd overall] result in Tokyo because she was more ready than ever [to advance from the heats]. I think it fueled her [for this season] because she had run 1:59 twice [in 2021] and I had a great pre-Olympic camp.”
The Diamond League season resumes next Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, starting at 4 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.