For all the national championship titles Aaron Brown has won throughout his lengthy sprinting career, these ones in the Township of Langley, B.C., this week felt a little different.
On Sunday afternoon in sweltering heat, Brown sprinted past the rest of the field to win the men's 200-metre title in a time of 20.03 seconds. Jerome Blake finished second in a time of 20.32.
In the women's 200m final, Natassha McDonald ran a personal best time of 22.67 to win the national title. While it was below the world standard, there was an illegal wind which means the time doesn't count.
It was McDonald's first national championship.
Brown's victory gives him 10 national titles and it's the fourth time he's won both the 100m and 200m events at the same national championship.
"The other ones, it's easy to take them for granted sometimes because you're always focused on the big championships. You want that glory. But wow. Ten times. That's a lot. We have some great people in Canada in the sprints," Brown said after the race.
Celebrating with family
At 30 years old, Brown is approaching the winter of his career, but in the summer heat he put on a show over the weekend at nationals. And while the wins are nice, celebrating the victories with his family now is what's making this part of his journey the most memorable.
"These are legacy-defining moments not just in track but as a father too. Those hit differently too. It's always special when you can incorporate family in what you do. When I can incorporate them it means the world," Brown said.
"One day he'll look back and see what I did. If he wants to be a sprinter one day I'll tell him he has 10 championships to catch his dad."
Shortly after his 100m victory on Saturday night, Brown stepped onto the podium to receive his gold medal.
For the first time ever he had company.
Brown held his one-year-old son Kingsley in his arms as he leaned over to have the medal put around his neck. The pride Brown exuded in that moment was evident as he beamed, on the podium looking at his son.
"To get gold in front of my son is special. He'll cherish those moments one day when he's older and can understand what I just did. Being a part of that is a special moment for us," Brown said.
Brown basked in the moment with Kingsley for what felt like a lifetime, his wife Preeya Milburn taking photos of the two of them.
"I didn't anticipate doing that but I saw the opportunity. They gave him a medal too which was unexpected. It's his first medal," Brown said.
"At some point my passions are going to turn into being more present with him because it's a lot of sacrifice that goes into this. A lot of travel. My wife is making the sacrifices. She believes in my dreams. And I'm going to keep going."
The three of them walked down the track together, crossing the same finish line Brown won both races. Kingsley was wearing a shirt that said Team Brown on the back with a maple leaf on it.
These moments for Brown are special to be sure, but they're also putting a finer point on the impending end to his career. There's still a lot ahead for the Toronto sprinter. But he admits having a son has changed the game for him.
"When you have a child it kind of makes you step back a bit and start thinking about what's coming next. That gives me a sense of urgency that my time is now and to take advantage of it," Brown said.
He's had success on the international stage in the form of two Olympic relay medals, bronze in Rio and silver last summer in Tokyo. And while Brown cherishes those moments, it's an individual medal at an international meet he so badly craves before hanging up his cleats.
"I've been in some finals now and it felt great to get that monkey off my back. And now it's just about going for that podium spot. I feel I can mix it up with the best of them," he said.
"There's no time machine or magical elixir that will turn back the clock and you won't get these moments back. I'm trying to soak it in more and go for broke. Think limitless. Why not go for the big glory?"
Brown will be competing in both the 100m and 200m at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., in mid-July.
He's brimming with confidence after a solid showing at nationals, now ready to take on the world once again.
"I don't get intimidated anymore. At this point of my career I know what I can do. We run a level playing field. We all start at the same line. Once we get on that track at worlds they have to do it in front of me," he said.
"This is the time. Why not go for it?"
Newman wins women's pole vault title
Battling scorching heat and a swirling wind, Alysha Newman was able to clear 4.40 metres to win the women's pole vault event on Sunday afternoon.
It's the 27-year-old's fourth national title.
"I wanted to come out and show everyone Newman's back," she said after the win.
Newman needed her third and final attempt to clear the bar, something she says she's not afraid of tackling.
"I've always been a third-time girl. I like that build-up and that excitement. It allows me to not overthink things," she said.
"Third attempts make you work hard."
Newman is the national record holder in the event, having cleared 4.82 metres in 2019. But she spent most of last season recovering from a concussion.
Recently she cleared 4.70 metres and is rounding into world-class form once again just three weeks ahead of worlds.
"When you go through an injury it's really hard to know where you're going to end up after," she said.
"But I've put in hundreds of thousands of hours into pole vault and just because I got injured doesn't mean to go back to base zero."