DES MOINES, Iowa - Canadian high jumper Derek Drouin leaped into the record books and accomplished a lifetime goal on Friday.
Drouin set a new Canadian record on Friday, clearing 2.40 metres at the Drake Relays, an annual track and field competition.
The 24-year-old from Corunna, Ont., bested his own record of 2.38 metres set in Aug. 2013 in Luzhuniki, Russia, at the World Championships in Athletics. Drouin also set a meet record, clearing the highest bar in the 104-year history of the Drake Relays.
"That is a huge barrier distance, I think, for any elite high jumper. It's kind of like the first time making two metres, or seven foot being an elusive seven-foot club," said Drouin. "Two-forty has only been cleared by a handful of people ever, so as a high jumper I think I've sort of coined that as my lifetime goal.
"To get it this early and with hopefully a lot of years in my career left to do it again, that was pretty special."
Americans Erik Kynard and Dusty Jonas both cleared a 2.35-metre jump on Friday, but could not make it past the 2.38-metre jump.
Drouin could sense he could accomplish something special as he walked to historic Drake Stadium with fellow Canadian high jumper Mike Mason.
"I was walking over with one of the other jumpers and just kind of acknowledged how nice of a day it was and how we had a really good field and how I wasn't about to let such a perfect opportunity to jump high pass me by," said Drouin. "I'd be pretty upset if I didn't at least jump something high.
"I don't know that I was expecting quite as high as I jumped, but definitely I was hoping for something big."
Mason, from New Westminster, B.C., tied for eighth by clearing a 2.16-metre bar.
Also, American Lolo Jones and teammates Bri Rollins, Queen Harrison and Vashti Thomas took the women's shuttle hurdle relay on Friday night.
It was the first meet victory for Jones — who went to high school mere kilometres from Drake Stadium — since she took the 100 hurdles in 2008.
"A win is always a win, so it doesn't matter if it was a really slow time or a really fast time. When you win, there's always that extra adrenaline you have," Jones said.
Jones hardly ran a clean race in her return to the track just two months after her stint as a bobsledder for the U.S. in the Sochi Olympics.
But it was clean enough to help beat a four-team field that saw one team fail to start and another fail to finish.
Jones stutter-stepped before her first hurdle, hitting in nine steps instead of the traditional seven. But Harrison's quick anchor leg helped the U.S. "Red" team beat Jamaica by just over a second.
On the men's side, LaShawn Merritt beat one of the best fields in the 105-year history of the Drake Relays by winning the 400 in 44.44.
Merritt, the world's No. 1 in the 400, bested London Olympics champion Kirani James, Luguelin Santos and others to claim the $25,000 winner's prize.
Jamaican Hansle Parchment was somewhat of a surprise winner in the men's 110 hurdles, winning in 13.14.
Michael Tinsley, the silver medallist in both London and at last season's world championships in Moscow, took the 400 hurdles in 48.57. Puerto Rico's Javier Culson was second in 48.68.
Cuban Yarisley Silva looked every bit the world's top women's pole vaulter, dominating the field to win in 15-3 1/2.
This might have been the first time in recent memory that Friday night's session of the Drake Relays featured more stars than Saturday's finale. But there should still be plenty to watch during the final day of competition.
The 100 hurdles won't have Jones. But it will have Rollins, the defending world champion, along with Harrison, Dawn Harper-Nelson and Kellie Wells.
American Chaunte Howard-Lowe and Brigetta Barrett, the silver medallist in London and Moscow, lead the field in the women's high jump.
Parchment, Andrew Riley will be among the elite hurdlers set to run the men's shuttle hurdle relay.
— With files from the Associated Press.