Make it five Canadian records for runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford in 2019.
The Toronto native beat Lynn Kanuka’s near-34-year-old mark by 1-100th of a second in the women’s 1,500 metres at the Müller Anniversary Games Diamond League event in London on Saturday.
DeBues-Stafford stopped the clock in 4:00.26 to finish third of 14 finishers at London Stadium, lowering her previous season-best of 4:00.46 from the June 16 Diamond League competition in Rabat, Morocco. Kanuka’s Canadian record had stood since Aug. 14, 1985.
A week ago, DeBues-Stafford paid tribute to the late Gabriele Grunewald — one of the top middle-distance runners in the United States — by running the Brave Like Gabe Mile in Monaco and breaking Leah Pells’ national mark in the process with a time of four minutes 17.87 seconds.
In January, DeBues-Stafford shattered indoor records in the 5,000 (14:57.45) and mile (4:24.80) in the span of three weeks. On May 30, the 23-year-old ran to a Canadian mark in the 5,000 (14:51.59) at her first Diamond League race of the season. Courtney Babcock set the previous record in 2003.
Since her move to Scotland earlier this year, DeBues-Stafford has shaved more than five seconds off her 2018 season-best of 4:05.83 and entered Saturday ranked sixth in the world.
‘I’m working harder than ever’
Living in Glasgow and being part of coach Andy Young’s world-class training program while training with British-record holder Laura Muir has quickly paid off for DeBues-Stafford.
“With Andy, Laura and [2017 European junior champion] Jemma Reekie, my workouts are very intense with a lot of reps and I’m working harder than ever,” DeBues-Stafford told CBC Sports recently.
“Laura has won world championship medals indoors and there’s no substitute for being around someone like that. … If you’re training with ambitious people … you’ll push yourself harder.”
Muir posted a winning time of 3:58.25 in Saturday’s race while Kenya’s Winny Chebet was second in 3:59.93, a season best. Reekie turned in a personal-best 4:02.09 in finishing seventh.
Family Young killed it today! Laura wins with a 57 last lap close. I just dip under the NR with a 59 last lap. And Jemma runs a big PB of 4:02! Thank you London!#LondonDL#DiamondLeague#RoadToTheFinal pic.twitter.com/8zI6VHGG6e
— Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (@gstafford13) July 20, 2019
The two-day event concludes Sunday and will be live streamed at CBCSports.ca, starting at 9 a.m. ET.
Four Canadians will be competing: Christabel Nettey (women’s long jump, 9:40 a.m.), Jessica O’Connell/Andrea Seccafien (women’s 5,000, 9:56 a.m.) and Sage Watson (women’s 400 hurdles, 10:29 a.m.).
De Grasse shines while facing fears in London
Andre De Grasse conquered his fears at London Stadium by running under 10 seconds for the first time this season in his fourth 100-metre race.
The Markham, Ont., runner put himself back in the conversation as one of the world’s top sprinters with his 9.99-second clocking, his first sub-10-second performance in legal wind since the 100 final at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he ran a personal-best 9.91.
In the days leading up to the 2017 world track and field championships in London, De Grasse suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring during a training run. He was also forced to cut short his 2018 season last July after injuring the same hamstring in the 200 semifinals at the Canadian championships in Ottawa.
“I was a little nervous coming here,” De Grasse told Stephanie Jenzer of CBC News at London Stadium shortly after Saturday’s fifth-place finish in the nine-man field. “I just had to face my fears and overcome adversity.
“I have a lot of family here and they wanted to see me compete, and that is the first time they got to see me compete.”
South Africa’s Akani Simbine won Saturday’s race in a season-best 9.93, followed by Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain (9.95 SB) and Yohan Blake of Jamaica (9.97). The 2011 world champion went 9.96 at the Jamaican championships on June 21.
Simbini has been knocking at the door for a few years, with fifth-place performances at the Olympics and world championships along with gold at the Commonwealth Games and African championships. He now looks equipped to challenge the best of the United States at this year’s worlds in Doha, Qatar, in September.
“I’m really happy with the time. I came here to make sure I got the win to build confidence and I came away with a season’s best,” he said. “It’s about getting through the races and winning them so by the time I get to world champs and I’m facing the rest of the world I’ll be ready and the confidence will be there.”
De Grasse, who is working with coach Rana Reider on the first 30 metres of the 100, will travel to Montreal to compete at the Canadian championships next weekend.
“Andre’s a threat, you can’t sleep on Andre,” said Hughes. “He won [world] bronze in 2015 [in 9.92] and got a [bronze] medal [in the 100] at the Olympics and I give respect when respect is due. He’s very competitive and I know in due time he’ll get back to where he wants to be.”
He lost his national titles in the 100 and 200 last year to rival Aaron Brown, who is coming off a season-best 10.07 on July 5 at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne. In the 200, De Grasse edged Brown (19.92/19.95) for third place at Switzerland after the latter won a 200 showdown (20.07/20.21) in Shanghai on May 18.
“I’m gonna try to get back the Canadian title,” said De Grasse, who tied his previous season-best of 10.05 earlier Saturday in his 100 semifinal heat. “It’s going to be fun racing against [Brown]. It’s definitely going to be a challenge and I look forward to it.”
Elaine Thompson rules 200m
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was a convincing winner of the women’s 200 in 22.13, outlasting a fast-finishing Marie-Josee Ta Lou (22.36) and Britain’s Beth Dobbin, who was delighted with a personal best of 22.50 having had to miss the race a year ago to work.
Other Canadian results on Saturday:
- Alysha Newman, pole vault — 6th, 4.65 metres
- Liz Gleadle, women’s javelin — 10th, 58.38m
The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets, all times ET:
- London, England (Sunday, 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.)