Canada’s Damian Warner produced two days of consistent excellence to win the men’s Olympic decathlon gold on Thursday, using his bronze-medal showing at the 2016 Rio Games as motivation.
Warner finished the 10-discipline, two-day event with an Olympic record 9,018 points, with France’s world record holder Kevin Mayer doing well to battle back for silver with 8,726 points.
Australian Ashley Moloney claimed bronze on 8,649 points.
“That’s crazy!” said Warner. “Ever since I was a kid, sitting on the couch and watching track and field and the Winter Olympics with my mom…
“When I was in grade 6 I wrote in a school project that I’d be in the Olympics one day, and who would have known that I would be an Olympic gold medallist.”
Warner added: “I have a lot of confidence in myself. And in Rio 2016, when I finished third, while I was happy to be on the podium I was also disappointed that I didn’t get on top.
“So I used that experience from 2016 to accomplish the performance that I’ve had over the last two days.
“It paid off, and I couldn’t be happier for myself, my team and everybody that’s supported me this whole time.”
Warner had ended the first day of the Olympic decathlon on Wednesday in top spot, with the fancied Mayer in fifth after complaining of back problems.
Warner, 31, is a seasoned campaigner, having finished in the top five at the past six outdoor global championships, picking up Olympic bronze in 2016 as well as world silver in 2015 and world bronze in 2013 and 2019.
At a baking hot Olympic Stadium on Wednesday, he opened up with a startling world decathlon best of 10.12 seconds in the 100 metres before soaring out to 8.24m in the long jump — enough to have won him bronze in the individual event.
– Javelin heroics give Mayer medal –
Warner then registered 14.80m in the shot put and 2.02m in the high jump, and ran 47.48sec in the final event of the day, the 400m, for the overnight lead ahead of Moloney and Canadian Pierce Lepage, with Mayer fifth.
Warner opened up the second day of action with an Olympic decathlon best of 13.46sec in the 110m hurdles before a credible 48.67m in the discus and 4.90m in the pole vault.
Mayer, who won silver behind then world record holder Ashton Eaton at the Rio Olympics, went into the penultimate event, the javelin, in fourth spot and was able to claw back some valuable points with a massive personal best of 73.09m on his second throw.
Warner managed 63.44, but Mayer moved back into second place on 8,066pts, 214 behind the Canadian.
Warner went into the 1,500m, the final event, knowing he had to run 4:33.80 to break the 9,000-point barrier.
Mayer, the world record holder with 9,126 points, didn’t have quite enough to threaten the Canadian in the final 1500m.
Warner dug deep to somehow find enough energy to produce a last sprint finish for fifth place, 12sec ahead of the Frenchman.
His time of 4:31.08 ensured a memorable points finish and, finally, a first gold at a global championships.
“I had a gameplan on where I needed to be, and when I came around at 1200m I was three seconds off the pace,” Warner said.
“I was like, ‘if I’m going to get this 9,000 points I have to go now’, and I gave it everything I had. It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done.”
Notable casualties over the gruelling two-day event included Germany’s world champion Niklas Kaul, who pulled up injured in the 400m, and Belgium’s former European champion Thomas van der Plaetsen, who withdrew after injuring himself in the long jump.