Skip to content

Canada's Brown building on past year's late-season success with further confidence

Aaron Brown's strong finish last season made him reconsider possibilities for himself on bigger stages.
Aaron Brown, of Toronto, races to a first place finish in the men's 200 metre final at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C., on Sunday, June 26, 2022. Brown's strong finish last season made him reconsider possibilities for himself on bigger stages. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Aaron Brown's strong finish last season made him reconsider possibilities for himself on bigger stages.

"I ended my season on a really high note and had the most successful Diamond League finals in my career, so I went into the off-season with a lot of confidence and I took away little things from that meet that I was going to apply into (the) next year," he said. 

"And the way I competed against those same guys because I knew, especially in the 200 (metres), those are the guys I'm really competing with to get a medal in Budapest (Hungary) this year (at worlds)."

The Toronto native ran 10.06 seconds to finish third in the 100 and 20.02 seconds in the 200 to place second at that Diamond League meet last September in Zurich, Switzerland.

"I just took that and kind of said, "All right, if I can do that in the Diamond League final, why can't I do that at the world championships?" Brown said.

"It just gave me a lot of confidence, changed my mindset and made me rethink what was possible. And you know, I'm still using that same confidence and riding that wave out. That's just been my approach this season."

Those results carried over into this season where the 31-year-old sprinter — who specializes in the 200 — has got off to a fast start, with a number of competitions under his belt since the start of April.

Across five 200 races, Brown has only finished out of the top three once — a fourth-place finish at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix — and earned a victory at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, Kenya on May 13.

His season best so far is 20.00 seconds, just shy of his personal best 19.95 from 2019. That effort came in his season-opening 200 race at the Botswana Golden Grand Prix on April 29, where he finished second. It was the fastest season-opening time of his career in the event.

"I didn't really have any time expectations," he said. "I just knew that I was in good shape because I ran that 400. 

"I was just out there just trying to execute the race and when I saw how close I was to (Botswana runner Letsile Tebogo) who ran (19.87) I was like, 'Oh, wow, I might have went sub-20 (seconds)' and of course it was right on the cusp."

The 400 Brown referred to was part of multiple adjustments made leading into this season.

Brown ran a personal best 45.84 seconds and won the 400 at the Florida Relays on April 1 — where he also helped Canada take first in the 4x100 relay — having competed in the race for just the second time and first since 2019.

Coach Denis Mitchell changed the philosophy a bit, having Brown get on the track sooner than usual and do more speed work. And the decision to run the 400 has paid dividends for the three-time Olympian. 

"Just building a base. For me, especially when I run the 400, I feel like I push through a lactic threshold," he said. "And I'm able to run faster speeds earlier in the season once I do that. 

"Normally it takes me a few runs in the two to run a really fast one because I don't have that lactic threshold pushed yet. And when you're in the four, you have no choice but to either succumb to it and die in the race, or really go for it and hold your speed. 

"And if you can do that in a 400, you can definitely do that in the 200 and conversely, if you can do it in the two, then you can definitely finish strong in 100. It's a old school philosophy."

Brown, who last competed on June 4, is taking a break from competition until the Diamond League event in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 30 in preparation for "the peak of the season." 

With goals of attaining individual medals on the world championship and Olympic stages — he has a 4x100 Olympic silver from 2021 and three world championship 4x100 medals — there is no shortage of motivation with worlds approaching in August.

"Means everything, it's what keeps me motivated and what keeps me on track to do the little things," he said. "It's hard, and you're talking about hundreds and tenths of a second, so the margins are very slim to improve. 

"So every little bit counts and it's easy to get sidetracked and, you know, fall off the wagon and be undisciplined. When you focus on the bigger picture and the stuff that you wanna achieve, then it makes it a little bit easier to stick with the routine."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2023.

Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press