Aaron Brown says execution improved, confidence was key to success in Diamond League final
Hours after his spectacular season-ending performance on Thursday night on the track in the Diamond League Final in Zurich, Aaron Brown spoke of his growing confidence.
He started to grow, the veteran Canadian sprinter said, at the end of the season as he competed against 18-year-old phenom Erriyon Knighton and his American teammate Marvin Bracy, who won world championship medals in July.
Brown finished second to Knighton in the 100 meters in Lucerne, Switzerland, and earlier in August in a 200 race in Hungary while placing third behind Knighton at Diamond League Brussels on September 2. Two days later he won the 100 in Padua, Italy. , beating Bracy by 1-100ths of a second.
A healthy and fit Brown showed improved execution in those races and felt a top-three finish in the double sprint was realistic this week at the Weltklasse Zürich athletics meet after placing fourth in the 200 to Diamond League Finals in 2017, 2018, 2019 and last year.
The Toronto native thought many would count him on Thursday when he was assigned lane 8 outside for the 100 and inside in lane 2 for the 200 an hour later at Letzigrund Stadium.
“These are not favorable paths,” he said. “But I knew I felt good and had the ability to fight for the top spots if I performed like I knew how to.”
Brown said he “ran blind” in the 100m, not knowing his positioning against the competition throughout the race. He finished third behind winner Trayvon Bromell (9.94 seconds) and Yohan Blake (10.05) in 10.06 to tie the season-best heats and semifinals at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon. , where he finished eighth in the final.
WATCH | Brown 3rd in his 1st 100-meter run at the Diamond League final:
In a busier 200, Brown beat Knighton and Kenny Bednarek – the 2020 Olympic silver medalist and 2021 Diamond League champion – as well as defending Olympic champion Andre De Grasse, with whom he won gold in the world relay this summer in the 100 distance. Brown clocked 20.02 seconds on Thursday, his fastest run since the Olympic semifinals (19.99) last summer in Tokyo.
Brown craned his neck as he crossed the finish line, a decision that helped him place second ahead of Alexander Ogando in a photo-finish. At the world championships, Ogando was a member of the Dominican Republic’s gold medal winning team in the 4×400 mixed relay.
“Running across the line is always a good thing,” he said, “because you never know how close your competitors are until you cross the line,” said Brown, who didn’t secure his spot in the 200 until he ran 20.22 in a strong -2.9 meters per second headwind in Brussels a week before the Diamond League final.
WATCH | Brown ranks 2nd in the 200 meters stacked in Zurich:
In a rare show of emotion after the 200 in Zurich, Brown clapped, smiled and punched his chest four times with his right fist.
“Once I have passed [Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago] off the curve, I knew I was in good shape [to contend for top three]“, said Brown, who took home a combined prize of US$19,000 in both races. “I didn’t know where I was compared to the guys in the high lanes. [De Grasse, Bednarek and Noah Lyles] but I figured if I don’t feel a lot of bodies around me, that’s a good thing.
“I knew I had to correct [the] middle of my runs, and I still have work to do. I was able to do it better in Zurich than in the other races and that will be the key to unlocking faster times for me in the future.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” Brown continued, “beating some of the people I know I’ll have to beat next year to achieve my world championship dreams. [in August in Budapest, Hungary].”
WATCH | Morgan Campbell explains why Brown deserves respect:
Lyles, the 25-year-old American and two-time 200m world champion, won in 19.52 to eclipse Usain Bolt’s meet record of 19.66 from August 30, 2012 to claim his fifth League trophy diamond and $30,000. He has won his 12 away races this season, heats and finals.
It’s been a long year mentally and physically [racing] two events, so it will not be difficult to turn off.— Aaron Brown of Canada on the off-season sprint
In 2016 and 2018, Brown extended his season beyond the Diamond League Finals to run the sprint double in Zagreb, Croatia, but this year opted to return home with his wife Preeya and son of 20 months, Kingsley, after a season that also included winning. the sprint double to a fourth consecutive Canadian championship.
He was so fired up after Thursday’s competition that he only got an hour’s sleep before catching a 6.40am bus to Zurich airport for his Friday morning flight to Florida, where he lives and trains .
“I will enjoy my family off season with a [planned] a vacation to Hawaii and a ride home to Toronto,” Brown said. “It has been a long year mentally and physically [racing] two events, so it won’t be difficult to disconnect.”
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.