Friday, May 24, 2024

Canadians Mitton, Yee seek improved results in 2nd leg of Chinese Diamond League series | CBC Sports

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Two Canadians will try to build on strong season-opening performances, while the world record watch continues for a pair of international athletes at this week’s Diamond League outdoor track and field stop in Suzhou, China.

Shot putter Sarah Mitton and steeplechase runner Regan Yee remained in China following last week’s event in Xiamen to prepare for the second of 15 Diamond League meets this season on Saturday.

Mitton, who twice broke a national record on her way to women’s gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships last month in Glasgow, was fourth in Xiamen with a best throw of 19.35 metres on the second of five attempts.

She’ll attempt to upend last week’s winner and reigning Olympic champion Gong Lijiao of China in a 10-woman field at Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre. Women’s shot put begins at 6:20 a.m. ET, with live streaming coverage beginning at 7 a.m. on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports App and CBC Gem.

WATCH: Can Andre De Grasse go lower than 9.84? | Athletics North:

Race for the record: Can Andre De Grasse go lower than 9.84? | Athletics North

The Canadian sprinter has made it clear that before he retires he wants the men’s national 100m record currently held jointly by Donovan Bailey & Bruny Surin. Certified track nerd Morgan Campbell gives an update on De Grasse from the time they spent together earlier this year in Jacksonville, Florida.

Gong, who earned world championship bronze last summer behind Chase Jackson and Mitton, jumped 19.72 in Xiamen, where it rained early in the competition

“To be honest, I am not quite satisfied with the result, since my intention was to throw 20-plus [metres],” said the 35-year-old.

Her most recent appearance on the Diamond League circuit was the 2019 Final at the Weltklasse Zurich meet where she threw 20.31 for her third of three Diamond League Trophies.

American Chase Jackson, who was third (19.62) in Xiamen last week, is also in Saturday’s field that includes all but one of last year’s top eight at worlds.

“I think [the result] is better than I could have hoped for in the middle of some technical [changes],” she said. “Losing to Gong Lijiao is not a bad thing. She’s one of the best ever … but hopefully I can beat her in [Suzhou].”

Taking more risks

On the track, Yee will face former world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech for the second time in a week over the barriers and hurdles in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase.

The South Hazelton, B.C., native was eighth of 14 women in Xiamen in 9:31.47, nearly nine seconds faster than her 2023 Diamond League opener (9:40.04) at the Golden Gala in Florence, Italy.

“The goal of [competing in] these Diamond League races is to be running head-to-head against the best in the world,” she told CBC Sports recently. “In previous years, I would have been more comfortable staying in Canada or the West Coast of the United States, not travelling far and competing against girls in my range, knowing I could win the race.

“In order to be great, I need to put myself in more competitive races and willing to take more risks.”

Yee, who is poised to secure a spot for the Olympic competition in Paris this summer, was running behind Chepkoech last week when the latter won in a meet record 8:55.40. The 2019 world champion and reigning silver medallist entered the race with a world-leading 9:15.61.

WATCH | Chepkoech runs sub-9-minute meet record in Xiamen:

Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech sets steeplechase meet record with Diamond League win in Xiamen

The Kenyan cruised to victory in China, beating teammate Faith Cherotich by more than 10 seconds while setting a new meet mark.

Peruth Chemutai, the 2021 Olympic champion from Uganda, was third last week and competes in Suzhou, as will 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jackline Chepkoech (no relation to Beatrice).

Saturday’s event was originally scheduled to be held in neighbouring Shanghai, a Diamond League host since 2010, but needed to be moved from Shanghai Stadium, which is being refurbished.

Duplantis headlines international battles

Armand Duplantis’s quest to raise the bar in men’s pole vault is among several intriguing international matchups in Suzhou.

The Swedish athlete has cleared at least six metres on 60-plus occasions and will try to bump the world mark beyond his 6.24-metre performance from Xiamen at 6:31 a.m. ET.

The Olympic and two-time world champion will battle American Sam Kendricks, also a two-time world gold medallist, and his teammate, Christopher Nilsen, who shared bronze at 2023 worlds in Budapest, Hungary.

WATCH | Duplantis clears 6.24m in China to win men’s pole vault:

Armand Duplantis breaks own pole vault world record at Xiamen Diamond League

The Swedish vaulter wasted no time, setting a new mark of 6.24m in his first attempt at the Diamond League meet in Xiamen, China.

The men’s 100 metres at 7:18 a.m. will be a Xiamen rematch after Christian Coleman crossed the line in 10.13 seconds, 4-100ths ahead of American teammate Fred Kerley.

Coleman is the reigning and two-time Diamond League champion over the distance, while Kerley captured the 2021 crown.

Double Olympic finalist Akani Simbine of South Africa is also in the nine-man field after prevailing at his national championships in 10.01 on April 19.

Yohan Blake of Jamaica withdrew earlier this week due to a hamstring issue, but the 2011 world champion’s namesake, Ackeem Blake, will take the line. He was third behind Coleman and Noah Lyles in the 60m at indoor worlds.

WATCH | Coleman grabs early-season bragging rights from Kerley:

Americans Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley come down to wire in Diamond League 100m

The US teammates were separated by just 0.04 seconds at the finish line in Xiamen, China.

Andre De Grasse, coming off a Diamond League Final win in September — the first Canadian to do so since shot putter Dylan Armstrong in 2011 — will open his individual outdoor campaign Friday in the 200 at the East Coast Relays in Jacksonville, Fla., where he lives. He’ll run the 100 on Saturday against 2021 Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs and Trayvon Bromell and then also the 4×100 relay.

On Sunday, fellow Canadian Aaron Brown will compete at the Bermuda Grand Prix in Devonshire before opening his Diamond League season May 10 in Doha, Qatar, where the Toronto native was third last year.

Sha’Carri Richardson was supposed to renew her rivalry with Shericka Jackson in the women’s 200 at 8:14 a.m. but the latter pulled out last week for an undisclosed reason.

Jackson, who won the event at worlds last year, also withdrew from the April 6 Miramar Invitational in Florida and at least one meet in Jamaica in March.

Richardson, the reigning champ in the world 100, will try to redeem herself following last week’s loss to Australian Torrie Lewis, who clocked a meet record 22.96 to beat the American (22.99).

Tamara Clark of the U.S., who was third in Xiamen, is also scheduled to race in Suzhou.

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