Aaron Brown narrowly misses 200m podium at Diamond League final

Toronto sprinter Aaron Brown was unable to post a second sub-20-second performance needed to upset top-ranked American Noah Lyles as he placed fourth in the men's 200 metres of the Weltklasse Zürich Diamond League track and field final on Thursday.

Brown, who hadn't raced since capturing a silver medal at the NACAC championships in his hometown on Aug. 12, finished in 20.14 seconds on a comfortable and calm night at Letzigrund Stadium.

"It was okay," said Brown, while attempting to regain his breath. "I would have liked to have been on the podium but it's been a really long year. I look forward to building off [the success] of this year and getting better."

The 26-year-old, who set a personal-best 19.98 at the Bislett Games in Oslo on June 7, earned $6,000 US for Thursday's run.

Bolt's meet record nearly falls

Lyles, who ran a world-leading 19.65 on July 20 in Monaco, clocked 19.67 and will take home the $50,000 top prize and Diamond Trophy for his efforts. The 21-year-old's time fell 1-100th of a second shy of retired world-record holder Usain Bolt's meet record from 2012.

Lyles also improved his record to 5-0 against Ramil Guliyev from Turkey, who finished second in 19.98. Jereem Richards, of Trinidad and Tobago, rounded out the podium in 20.04.

Brown, who finished third in the Diamond League standings behind Lyles and Guliyev, will complete his season Sept. 3-4 at the IAAF World Challenge in Zagreb, Croatia.

He began a busy campaign in late March with a victory at the Brisbane Grand Prix in Australia, three weeks before capturing a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Brown added Canadian titles in the 100 and 200 along with 12 podium finishes across the two disciplines.

He put together a typically strong first 100 metres on Thursday but couldn't gain ground on the competition down the stretch.

"The last 50 [metres] has been my nemesis all season," Brown said. "That's my emphasis for next season. I'll get a vacation [after Zagreb] and once I get back into [training] I'm going to eat, sleep and dream that last 50.

"I'm going to put it together [next season] and it's going to be special."

Two of Brown's Canadian teammates, hurdler Sage Watson and middle-distance runner Matt Hughes, also raced Thursday.

Watson, in her first professional season, finished seventh in a field of eight in 55.57 seconds in the women's 400 hurdles and will add $3,000 to her bank account.

The native of Medicine Hat, Alta., managed to shave one and a half seconds off her time from the recent Müller Grand Prix in Birmingham, England, and was one second off her season-best 54.55 at the Bislett Games in Norway on June 7.

The 24-year-old, who has a history of foot trouble dating back to her sophomore year at the University of Arizona in 2014, was hampered by a sprained right foot earlier in the season that forced Watson to miss the Canadian championships in Ottawa. She returned July 21 with an eighth-place showing (56.21) at the Müller Anniversary Games in London.

Americans Dalilah Muhammad and Shamier Little won gold and silver in Thursday's competition in 53.88 and 54.21, respectively, followed by Janieve Russell of Jamaica in 54.38.

Hughes placed a disappointing 11th of 12 finishers in the men's 3,000-metre steeplechase.

Back of the pack

The 29-year-old from Oshawa, Ont., crossed the line in 8:36.69, 13 seconds slower than his seventh-place performance two weeks ago at the Müller Grand Prix.

Hughes, a five-time Canadian champion who ran a season-best 8:12.33 at the Commonwealth Games in April, quickly dropped back to last spot in a race that had 14 starters and only managed to move up one spot after two competitors dropped out.

Conseslus Kipruto won in 8:10.15. The Kenyan's shoe slipped off early in the race, yet he led with two laps to go, and just held off Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco (8:10.19). American Evan Jager was third in 8:13.22.

Semenya cruises to Diamond hat trick

South African Caster Semenya dominated the women's 800 in one minute 55.27 seconds — a full second outside her lifetime best set in Paris this season yet more than a half-second faster than any other woman this year. Ajee Wilson of the U.S. was second in 1:57.86.

For Semenya, it was an unprecedented third consecutive title in what could be her final Diamond League race as recently introduced IAAF regulation, which Semenya is challenging, would limit testosterone levels in female athletes, starting Nov. 1. As of now, she would be ineligible to compete without treatment.

Elsewhere, a 30-year-old Weltklasse record fell in the men's shot put to Tomas Walsh of New Zealand. Walsh's 22.60-metre throw was seven centimetres short of his own world-leading effort.

The second leg of this week's Diamond League finals on Friday at the AG Memorial Van Damme in Brussels features four Canadians: Pole vaulter Shawn Barber, high jumper Mike Mason, Mo Ahmed in the 5,000 metres and long jumper Christabel Nettey.