Canadian hurdler Sage Watson reached the podium in her outdoor season debut Wednesday, finishing third in the women’s 400-metre event at the Gyulai István Memorial in Székesfehérvar, Hungary.
The national record-holder went out fast on a cool afternoon at Bregyó Athletic Center and briefly led the field of eight before Femke Bol of the Netherlands took the lead for good shortly before the straightaway, finishing in 54.67 seconds.
Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova was 1.19 seconds back in second while Watson’s 56.29 clocking was faster than her winning time of 56.34 at the Canadian championships last July in Montreal.
Ryzhykova and Watson were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the final at the 2019 world track and field championships.
Wednesday’s race was Watson’s first outdoors this season following track and field’s shutdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 26-year-old native of Medicine Hat, Alta., clocked 53.29 to win an indoor 400 race at the Texas Tech shootout in mid-February.
Last August, Watson won her first gold medal in a professional event since 2015 at the Pan Am Games in Peru, two months before running 54.32 in the world semifinals, breaking Rosey Edeh’s Canadian record ithat had stood for more than 23 years. Watson’s previous best of 54.52 was her winning time at the 2017 NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.
WATCH | Sage Watson breaks 23-year-old Canadian record:
Two days later, she finished eighth in the final in Doha, Qatar, where she crossed the line in 54.82.
She will compete at the BAUHAUS-galan meet in Stockholm for the first time in her Diamond League season debut on Sunday.
Watson, who met the 55.40 Olympic qualifying standard last July in London, won the 400 hurdles at last year’s Diamond League Final in Brussels in 55.58.