Damian Warner in the decathlon 100m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
Canada’s Olympic and world indoor champion Damian Warner made a strong start in his bid to earn a first world decathlon title at the age of 32 as he established a 90-point lead after a morning session involving two of his best events, the 100m and long jump, and the shot put.
On day nine at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, Warner moved on to the afternoon session’s high jump and 400m on 2846 points, with Zachery Ziemek of the United States on 2756 and Puerto Rico’s Ayden Owens-Delerme on 2728.
Warner’s teammate Pierce LePage, the Commonwealth silver medallist, was three points behind in fourth place, one ahead of France’s world record-holder Kevin Mayer, right achilles tendon heavily taped, who performed well enough in the opening two events but failed to deliver a shot put close to his best of 17.08m, only managing 14.98m.
Warner had begun the day by running the fastest 100m, 10.27, into a 0.8m/s headwind.
He tightened up a little over the final 20 metres before producing an adept dip, but his face showed he was slightly less than satisfied with his performance, given he equalled the world decathlon best running 10.12 in Tokyo last summer.
His 26-year-old compatriot LePage finished fastest to clock 10.39, and Australia’s Olympic bronze medallist Ash Moloney clocked a season’s best of 10.49.
Mayer produced the sixth best performance with a season’s best of 10.62, 0.06 faster than he had managed in winning silver at last year’s Tokyo Games.
That took Warner into the second event with 1030 points, with LePage on 1001 and Moloney on 997.
But if Warner was lukewarm about his opening event, he liked his second long jump enough to clap his hands vigorously and shout: “Come on!” The mark, 7.87m, was less than his personal best of 8.28m and his season’s best of 8.05m, but it was enough to compound his lead as he added a further 1027 points.
Ziemek made up ground as he posted the second-best long jump of 7.70m ahead of Owens-Delerme’s personal best of 7.64m, Norway’s Sander Skotheim on 7.55m, and Mayer and LePage, who each managed a season’s best 7.54m.
Grenada’s Commonwealth champion Lindon Victor produced the best shot put of the day with 16.00m, with Ziemek making up further ground with a personal best of 15.37m that gave him third place.
Meanwhile, Estonia’s 2019 world silver medallist Maicel Uibo, watched by his wife Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the newly-established world 400m champion, finished the session in 12th place on 2521 points.
Hayward Field, which has witnessed spectacular home sprinting over the last week, saw two United States sprint hurdlers come to grief in the heats, including defending champion Nia Ali.
The 33-year-old from Pennsylvania, who has returned to action after having a daughter with Canada’s Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse, had a wildcard for the 100m hurdles thanks to the gold she earned in Doha three years ago.
But her defence was over almost as soon as it had begun as what looked like an imminent victory in the opening heat turned into calamity as she hit the ninth hurdle and then the deck after staggering on to the final flight.
“I was running a really good race but I let the speed carry over and I didn’t keep my technique tight enough and lost everything,” Ali said afterwards, adding rather poignantly that all her family were trackside to watch her.
Worse was to follow as Alysha Johnson, the only athlete to have beaten Puerto Rico’s Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn in the last two years, stuttered in front of her first hurdle as if she had never faced such a challenge before, and her race was done.
Normal service was resumed by the two remaining home 100m hurdlers as world record-holder and Olympic silver medallist Keni Harrison won in 12.60 and Alia Armstrong clocked 12.48, just 0.01 off the personal best she set at the US Championships.
The latter was the second-fastest time of the day behind the African record of 12.40 set by the exuberant Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, who missed a medal by one place at last year’s Olympics but looks all set to reach the podium in Eugene – barring accident.
Meanwhile Camacho-Quinn qualified third-fastest in 12.52 after a tentative start, although in her rather subdued trackside interview she referred enigmatically to “some issues” that she would have to “work through”.
Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper was ninth fastest in 12.73.
There were no excursions or alarms for the defending world champion in the women’s long jump qualifying, however, as Germany’s Olympic gold medallist Malaika Mihambo surpassed the automatic qualifying mark of 6.75m for tomorrow’s final with an opening effort of 6.84m, the second best of the session.
Home jumper Quanesha Burks topped qualifying with 6.86m, with Nigeria’s world and Olympic bronze medallist Ese Brume on 6.82m, Ukraine’s 2019 world silver medallist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk on 6.81m, Khaddi Sagnia of Sweden on 6.78m and Australia’s Brooke Buschkuehl on 6.76m also qualifying automatically.
Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics