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Canada’s Aaron Brown sweats way to 200m final on sweltering night at World Athletics Championships

Canada’s Aaron Brown is back in another final at the World Athletics Championships.

On a sweltering summer night in Eugene, Ore., with the temperature soaring above 30 degrees, and just a couple of days removed from competing in the men’s 100-metre final, Brown burned up the track in the 200m semifinal.

His time of 20.10 in the last semifinal of the evening was enough to qualify for the final on Thursday night, placing him second behind Erriyon Knighton of the United States.

“I felt pressure on my inside. I figured Erriyon would be up there but then I felt pressure on the inside,” Brown told CBC Sports.

“I gave a little lean and that did the trick. It always comes down to the thousandths for me, I guess.”

It’s just the second time in Brown’s career he’s qualified for the 200m final at a world championship.

Jerome Blake, of Burnaby, B.C., in his world championship debut, was also attempting to punch a ticket to the final.

However, his time of 20.29 in the first semifinal of the evening was not enough.

Knighton was the second-fastest finals qualifier in a time of 19.77. Fellow American Noah Lyles was the quickest on the evening with a time of 19.62.

The 100m champion Fred Kerley of the United States pulled up in his semifinal run and appeared to be injured as he left the track. He did not qualify for the final.

Brown, who now is getting ready for his sixth race at worlds, says the grind is starting to take its toll and that rest is needed.

“I definitely need it. It’s starting to catch up with me. I saw Fred. It caught up to him. It’s all about energy conservation and running smart,” Brown said.

At 30 years old, Brown calls himself a wiley veteran. And he’s certainly been leaning on all of his years of experience in these worlds.

Just 24 hours earlier, on Monday night, Brown faced a bizarre situation while competing in his 200m heat.

When the gun sounded, Brown went to blast out of the blocks, but his blocks jumped out of the track and became unhinged — Brown fell to the track.

The official immediately stopped the race and brought the sprinters back to reset.

Brown, a five-time 200m national champion, needed to quickly compose himself and refocus. The second time they got off cleanly and Brown was able to finish second in the heat, qualifying him for Tuesday’s semis.

After the race, Brown told CBC Sports he had never had that happen before in his career.

“Blocks slid back. I’m not sure how. I put them in the ground and then I don’t know, it just slipped,” he said in disbelief.

Brown stated he had a little bit of a cramp after the fall but was able to get through the heats.

“I’m not going to let that stop me. I had some tightness and maybe a slight strain but nothing I can’t run through. I’m not here to make excuses,” he said.

Brown made his worlds debut in 2013. He was part of the bronze medal 4x100m relay team. He followed that up with another relay worlds bronze in 2015.

He’s also a two-time Olympic relay medalist, having won silver last year in Tokyo and bronze in Rio at the 2016 Olympics.

But for as much success as Brown has had internationally, it’s a personal podium finish he so badly craves in the latter part of his career.

“I love running with my guys and being able to get on the podium and share that moment with my team and really the country because that’s like an event for the country,” Brown said.

“But it is different when it’s Brown up there. It’s just me because I know all the work that I put in for myself and everything that I’ve invested and all the people that believe in me and my talent and what I can achieve, my potential will be fulfilled if I’m able to get up there by myself.”

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