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Canada's Nettey & Co. looking for big results at Diamond League Final

TORONTO — When Christabel Nettey won gold at the Commonwealth Games in March, on the heels of her first world indoor appearance in three years, she believed her battered body had finally turned the corner. Good health must be on the horizon.

TORONTO — When Christabel Nettey won gold at the Commonwealth Games in March, on the heels of her first world indoor appearance in three years, she believed her battered body had finally turned the corner. Good health must be on the horizon.

But the 27-year-old long jumper from Surrey, B.C., found it was difficult to recharge after the Games on Australia's Gold Coast, and by June, she was physically and mentally spent.

"It was hard to organize myself the latter part of the season because my Diamond Leagues didn't start until June, so it was trying to figure out a balance between staying focused and being able to get rest, and I don't think I fully got it there," Nettey said. "I went to Europe for a few meets, my body was breaking down and I was really tired, and that's why the latter part of my season has been a little bit up and down."

Nettey hopes her season is back on the upswing heading into this week's Diamond League Final, the much-anticipated finale of track and field's prestigious circuit.

"Moving to the final, the past is the past and I'm here, and I deserve to be here and I'm ready to compete to the best of my ability, and I'm excited to compete," Nettey said.

The Final takes place in two countries over two days, depending on the event. In Zurich on Thursday, Canada's Aaron Brown will race the 200 metres, Matt Hughes will compete in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, and Sage Watson is among the women's 400 hurdles field.

Nettey will jump on Friday in Brussels, alongside Canadian teammates Shawn Barber (pole vault), Michael Mason (high jump), and Mohammed Ahmed (5,000 metres).

Nettey is competing in her first Final since the Diamond League adopted a points race. Each event is contested seven times over a series of 14 meets, with the points leaders meeting in the finale. The winner of each of the 32 events wins US$40,000 and a diamond trophy.  

Nettey was ranked No. 2 in the world in 2015, but her seasons since have read more like a medical textbook. She was sidelined a couple of times with a torn groin, and has a herniated disc in her back that requires careful attention. Long train and plane rides, and little access to therapy while competing in Europe doesn't help.

"Just over the past year, there's been injuries, coaching changes (she trains in Phoenix with Stuart McMillan), program changes, mental stuff . . . obviously it's easier when things are going bad for things to keep spiralling out of control," she said. "But I think I got a hold on it this year."

Nettey had a season's best jump of 6.92 metres at the Commonwealth Games, which is just shy of her career best and Canadian record 6.99 she jumped in 2015.

Following Brussels, Nettey will jump in two smaller European meets and then take about a six-week break before turning her focus to what will be an important two-year stretch. The world track and field championships are Sept. 27 to Oct. 7 in Doha, followed a year later by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press