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Just a day after Sarah Mitton won Canada its first gold medal, another Canadian thrower brought fans to their feet in the preliminary round of the hammer throw in Birmingham. It set the tone for a day filled with strong early-competition performances for Canadians. Here are the few stories that characterized Day 3 at Alexander Stadium.

ROGERS BREAKS COMMONWEALTH HAMMER THROW RECORD, THREE CANADIANS MAKE THE FINAL

Canada put on a clinic in the hammer circle on Thursday morning. World Championships silver medalist Camryn Rogers set a new Commonwealth Games record of 74.68m in her first and only throw of the competition, comfortably besting her closest opponent by six full metres.

Rogers, 23, came to Birmingham the week after winning her first-ever @orld Championship medal in Oregon, and said she has ridden good momentum in practice since July.

“It’s been a really good buildup, we’ve had the chance to really just hone in and focus – it’s my first (Commonwealth) games, so lots of energy coming in.”

A part of her preparation has involved getting used to a grippier circle than the one in which she regularly trains, but the change has done little to faze her.

“Every circle is a little bit different, but at the end of the day, a circle is a circle, and you gotta throw… I don’t mind it.”

Rogers was one of three Canadians to move on to the final. Jillian Weir, who was fifth at the World Championships, finished tenth overall with a best throw of 60.96m. The 2021 Olympian is recovering from COVID-19, which kept her away from the throwing circle in the week between Worlds and the Commonwealth Games.

“I got through, so you can’t be mad at that,” she said. “I feel like I’m starting to come back around and in two more days I’ll definitely be better in the final.”

Weir and Rogers’ teammate Kaila Butler, meanwhile, finished between the pair, in sixth with a best throw of 63.34. The Games are the 24-year-old’s first international competition – she said she used Thursday as an ice breaker.

“I’ll be more prepared for the final. This was just to shake the rust off and feel the ring.” 

MCDONALD AND RODNEY STRONG IN 200M OPENING ROUNDS

Natassha McDonald fancies herself a 400m specialist, but the Mississaugan athlete has spent the summer shining in the shorter sprints.

In June, she became Canadian 200m champion and, on Thursday in Birmingham, she won her heat and qualified for the 200m semi-final in a time of 23.45.

“My preparation has been really technical,” she said. “It was nice to drop down to the 200. Obviously there are some differences, more speedwork.”

Eight athletes will eventually move on to the final, and McDonald will enter Friday afternoon’s semi-final ranked ninth overall. Her expectation, she said, is that she will find a way to crack the top eight.

Brendon Rodney, meanwhile, built on his momentum from the World Athletics Championship, during which he had figured on the gold-medal winning 4x100m team. This time, he shone as an individual, qualifying for the 200m semi final by winning his heat in 20.84.

PAULSON SQUEAKS THROUGH TO 1500M FINAL

In his ninth 1500m race of the season, just two weeks after contending in the World Championship semi in Oregon, Will Paulson squeaked into another international final.

The Oregon-based metric miler finished sixth in the first of two 1500m heats in a time of 3:38.36, earning him one of two wildcard spots with a heat left to go.

“I’m not too happy, I wanted to be in that top 5 in the automatic qualifying spot,” he said. “I thought I had the legs to catch one more guy.”

Luckily for Paulson, the second heat ran at a much slower pace. The 27-year-old kept his wild card status and will move on to Saturday’s final. “I didn’t want to rely on a slower second heat but it’s the way it is, so can’t complain,” he said.  “Happy to advance and hopefully have a better race in two days time.”
 

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