Armed with new Canadian mark, shot putter Mitton chasing big throws on Diamond League circuit

Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., returns to the Diamond League professional circuit this Sunday in Marrakech, Morocco, eight days after raising her women's shot put national record to 20.68 metres. She says her "entire focus" is on the Paris Olympics in August.

De Grasse to run 100m Sunday in Morocco, Shericka Jackson ready for 200 opener

A smiling Canadian women's athlete, with her red hair in a pony tail, claps her hands during the shot put event at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on March 1, 2024 in Glasgow.
Sarah Mitton raised her Canadian record in women's shot put to 20.68 metres last week. How much further could she throw? "I wasn't throwing nearly in my best technical rhythm so there's more centimetres in there," she says. (Alex Pantling/Getty Images/File)

Sarah Mitton describes her latest Canadian record and season world-leading throw as a "gift" during a tough training block.

She said her coach, Rich Parkinson, encouraged her to enter a shot put competition before this Sunday's Diamond League stop in Marrakech, Morocco, believing she could top her 20.33-metre national mark from the 2022 Canadian championships.

Mitton wasted little time proving Parkinson right, unleashing a 20.68 throw on her first attempt last Saturday at the Throws U 2024 Series meeting in Fleetwood, Pa.

"I had been throwing exceptionally well in training, so we decided to put it to the test in a meet environment and I was able to put out an even further distance in competition," she told CBC Sports this week.

Big throws, on demand, is what she'll need for the women's Olympic final on Aug. 9 in Paris.

"It's all part of the process of chasing those higher numbers for Paris," Mitton said. "I wasn't throwing nearly in my best technical rhythm [in Fleetwood] so there's more centimetres in there."

Years of hard work has allowed the native of Brooklyn, N.S., to add nearly two metres to her 2021 outdoor personal best of 18.89.

"I spend nearly every day tweaking my movement/rotation in the circle to be as close to perfect as I can get," said Mitton, who lives and trains in Toronto. "I am becoming more consistent and more confident in attacking the throw every week. Maintaining the status quo and staying healthy is the goal ahead of Paris."

Reuniting with rivals

Sunday's Meeting International Mohammed VI was moved from Rabat, where the stadium is closed for renovations. Live streaming coverage from the Grand Stade de Marrakech begins at 2 p.m. ET at CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports App and CBC Gem.

At 1:26 p.m., Mitton will battle American rivals Chase Jackson and Maggie Ewen along with Jessica Schilder of the Netherlands, who held the previous world-leading mark of 20.31. Three weeks ago, Jackson threw 20.03 to win in Suzhou, China over Mitton (19.86) who went 19.35 a week earlier 1,000 kilometres to the south in Xiamen.

"I've been working on keeping both my feet on the ground on the finish of my throw since the beginning of the season," she said, "and I'm starting to see that more and more."

The Canadian was fifth last May in Rabat, throwing a best of 18.56 while battling a head cold before struggling with technique and over rotating in the circle. By July, Mitton reverted to her previous "standard" rotational technique and in late August became the first-ever Canadian woman to pick up a shot put medal at the World Athletics Championships with silver in Budapest, Hungary.

"I will continue to train through upcoming meets with the hope of getting some 20-metre-plus performances … but my entire focus is on Paris," Mitton said.

WATCH | Mitton in conversation with Ariel Helwani:

Did Sarah Mitton almost leave shot put behind? A conversation with Ariel Helwani

4 months ago
Duration 8:44
CBC Olympics host Ariel Helwani sits down with world championship silver medallist Sarah Mitton to talk about her Olympic experience, goals for Paris, and how close she came to leaving the sport of shot put.

Will De Grasse extend Moroccan win streak?

Sprinter Andre De Grasse is the other Canadian competing Sunday in Marrakech, his second 100-metre race of this outdoor season and first of his career in Morocco.

He won a 200 in Rabat in 2017 (20.03 seconds) and in 2019 (20.19).

De Grasse's 10.11 winning effort last month at the East Coast Relays in Jacksonville, Fla., where the Markham, Ont., native resides, is his fastest season opener since April 2021 (9.99).

The 29-year-old, who anchored Canada to a 4x100 silver medal at World Relays earlier this month, hasn't run under 10.11 since winning in 10.05 at the Bislett Games Diamond League meet on June 16, 2022 in Oslo, Norway.

Jamaica's Yohan Blake is the only other household name in the nine-man field for Sunday's 3:22 p.m. ET race, but there is no shortage of talent.

All but two athletes have run 9.96 or faster in their career, while 25-year-old Brandon Hicklin of the United States is the only one to dip under 10 seconds this year (9.94).

De Grasse most recently achieved the feat on Sept. 9, 2021 (9.89) at the Diamond League Final in Zurich.

Britain's Jeremiah Azu, also in Sunday's field, won at this week's Meeting Città di Savona in Italy in a 10.08 season best.

WATCH | De Grasse, Canadian teammates grab relay silver in Nassau:

U.S. victorious, Canada finishes 2nd in men's 4x100m final at relay worlds

1 month ago
Duration 5:22
The United States captures the men's 4x100-metre relay world title while Canada's Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse claim silver at the World Athletics Relays.

Jackson looks to add to early-season success

One of the more notable events led by an international athlete is the women's 200 at 3:10 p.m. in which Shericka Jackson will race for the first time in the distance this season.

The double world champion from Jamaica withdrew from a series of early-season meetings, including Suzhou. But Jackson debuted May 4 and won a 100 at home, clocking 11.03 seconds in Kingston.

Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland is another athlete to watch. She was sixth and fifth at the two China stops, but has a 22.05 PB.

WATCH | Jackson successfully defends world 200m title:

Shericka Jackson defends 200m world title with 2nd-fastest time ever

10 months ago
Duration 6:14
Jamaica's Shericka Jackson wins the women's 200 metres final at the World Athletics Championships with championship-record time of 21.41 seconds.

Wanyonyi favoured in Arop-less 800m

With reigning world champion Marco Arop idle until he returns home to race the men's 800 at the Edmonton Athletics Invitational on June 13, Kenya's Emmanuel Wanyonyi will be the favourite to win Friday at 2:14 p.m.

After winning the 2023 Diamond League Trophy in a one minute 42.80-second PB, Wanyonyi opened in 1:43.57 in Nairobi on April 20.

Britain's Ben Pattison, the 2023 world bronze medallist, or Kenya's Emmanuel Korir could be Wanyonyi's biggest threat Friday. Korir, a three-time Diamond League champion, only raced four times last year due to injury, including an uncharacteristic 1:48.42 in Rabat.

Diamond League calendar

  • Eugene (Prefontaine Claissic) — May 25
  • Oslo, Norway — May 30
  • Stockholm — June 2
  • Paris — July 7
  • Monaco — July 12
  • London — July 20
  • Lausanne, Switzerland — Aug. 22
  • Silesia, Poland — Aug. 25
  • Rome — Aug. 30
  • Zurich — Sept. 5
  • Brussels (DL Final) — Sept. 13-14

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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