Ashton Eaton’s shoes – all 10 pairs of them – are big ones to fill, but a world indoor title would be another step towards combined events greatness for Kevin Mayer in the post-Eaton era.
At the 2016 Olympics, Eaton’s final competition, Mayer finished just 59 points behind the US all-rounder to take silver. Mayer has continued to go from strength to strength since then, winning the European indoor heptathlon title with a continental record of 6479 and taking the world decathlon title by more than 200 points.
The 26-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down, either. So far this year he has recorded big PBs for the 60m hurdles (7.79) and the pole vault (5.60m) and has been close to his best in several of the other heptathlon disciplines. And given that he usually sets a decathlon or heptathlon PB at major championships, Mayer could well inch closer to Eaton’s world record of 6645.
Should anything disastrous happen to Mayer, there will be other athletes poised to capitalise in a competition that features five of the top seven finishers from last year’s World Championships.
World bronze medallist Kai Kazmirek has a better outdoor record, but he is still proficient indoors and has a 6173 PB. In his final competition before Birmingham, he jumped a season’s best of 7.47m in the long jump but no-heighted at 2.00m in the high jump at the German Indoor Championships.
Canada’s Damian Warner will be keen to make up for a disappointing experience at last year’s World Championships where illness ruined his chances of a medal. The 2015 world silver medallist has competed sparingly this year, but can still be expected to perform well in what will be just the second heptathlon of his career.
After a couple of years of injury struggles, Eelco Sintnicolaas returned to form last year to set a Dutch decathlon record of 8539. The 30-year-old beat Mayer to the 2013 European indoor title, setting a national record of 6372, and looks to be in form to return to 6000-point territory.
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov took silver medals at the 2012 and 2016 World Indoor Championships. He won in Aubiere last month with a season’s best of 6016, setting a 60m hurdles PB of 7.80 along the way.
Grenadian brothers Lindon Victor and Kurt Felix will be aiming to become the first Caribbean athletes to win a world indoor combined events medal. Little separates the duo on points; Victor has a best of 5976 while Felix holds the national record at 5986.
USA’s Zach Ziemek, Estonia’s Maicel Uibo, Czech Republic’s Jan Dolezal and France’s Ruben Gado have all surpassed 6000 points this year but might need a slight improvement on that to contest for a medal.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF