Damian Warner on his way to victory at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Damian Warner had gone into the Hypo Meeting aiming to become the event’s first six-time winner but he ended up making history in other ways at the World Athletics Challenge – Combined Events meeting in Götzis on Sunday (30).
World decathlon bests of 8.28m in the long jump – a mark which also breaks Edrick Floreal's Canadian record – and 13.36 in the 110m hurdles helped multiple global medallist Warner to a lifetime best of 8995, smashing his own Canadian record and elevating him to fourth on the world all-time list.
Canadian 1-2 from start to finish
Warner opened his competition with 10.14 (0.7m/s) to lead the 100m – a mark just 0.02 off his own world decathlon best. His 8.28m (1.2m/s) long jump followed before marks of 14.31m in the shot put, 2.09m in the high jump to match his PB and 47.90 in the 400m.
It gave him a score of 4743, the best ever wind-legal day-one score and well ahead of PB pace.
“Everything went well,” said Warner in his trackside interview. “It’s been a long time since I was out here, so to come out here and perform this well is awesome.
“Before I started doing the decathlon, I was a long jumper in high school. I had a couple of injuries and it didn't quite work out and I kind of gave up on the long jump and moved to the decathlon. It has always kind of picked at me – would I have been able to make it as a long jumper? Today's result was awesome because it shows if I keep working at it then I can compete with some of the world's best.”
Compatriot Pierce LePage also enjoyed a strong start, clocking a 100m PB of 10.30. He went on to leap 7.45m, throw 14.31m in the shot put, clear 2.00m in the high jump and run 47.65 for 400m to score 4421 after the first five events.
Vitaliy Zhuk of Belarus launched himself up the standings by throwing a big outdoor shot put PB of 16.86m which he followed with a 1.97m high jump and 49.33 400m to end the day in third with 4279 points.
Like Warner, Belgium’s Thomas van der Plaetsen also achieved 2.09m in the high jump which helped him to fifth place on 4254 points behind Dutch athlete Rik Taam with 4257 at the end of the first day.
Warner picked up where he left off on day two, scorching to a 13.36 clocking in the 110m hurdles to break his own world decathlon best.
He followed it with 48.43m in the discus, one of his best ever throws within a decathlon, and then cleared 4.80m in the pole vault, equalling his best ever decathlon vault and keeping him on pace for a score close to 9000 points.
A 59.46m throw in the javelin meant his task in the final discipline, the 1500m, would be a tough one if he were to break the 9000-point barrier. He produced one of his best ever runs for the metric mile, clocking 4:25.19 – just 0.46 shy of his lifetime best. Although it wasn’t quite enough to make him the fourth member of the decathlon’s 9000-point club, he was rewarded with a national record of 8995.
Just as Warner maintained pole position throughout the whole contest, LePage did likewise with his second-place spot, securing a Canadian 1-2 finish. He set PBs of 14.05 and 48.25m in the 110m hurdles and discus respectively. A 5.10m vault and 57.06m throw in the javelin kept him 100 points ahead of Van Der Plaetsen going into the 1500m.
With a 4:40.69 run, just ahead of Van Der Plaetsen’s 4:41.39, LePage finished second with a PB of 8534. Van Der Plaetsen, who once again excelled in the pole vault (5.40m), was also rewarded with a PB in third, scoring 8430. Zhuk was fourth with 8331, ahead of world champion Niklas Kaul (8263).
Krizsan crushes Hungarian record
European indoor bronze medallist Xenia Krizsan came from behind in the final event to take heptathlon victory, improving on her own Hungarian record with 6651.
USA’s Taliyah Brooks gained the early lead as she clocked 12.93 in the 100m hurdles, but her competition came to an end soon after, when she was unable to clear her opening height of 1.74m in the high jump. Pan American Games silver medallist Annie Kunz started with 13.12, while 2017 world bronze medallist Anouk Vetter ran 13.35 in the hurdles.
Adrianna Sulek moved into the lead after the high jump, thanks to a PB of 1.86m, while Krizsan moved into contention thanks to a 1.80m clearance, lifting her from seventh to third overall.
After two fouls in the shot put, Vetter maintained her composure to achieve the leading mark of 15.28m. USA’s Annie Kunz took the overall lead, though, thanks to her throw of 15.22m. A 14.47m PB from Krizsan meant the Hungarian climbed into the No.2 spot overall.
Kunz maintained her lead after the 200m (24.07) while Vetter and Krizsan swapped places in the overall standings, posting respective times of 23.65 and 24.32. Norwegian 17-year-old Henriette Jaeger was the fastest overall in the 200m, clocking a PB of 23.28.
The second day started well for Krizsan as she leaped a PB of 6.41m in the long jump, moving her back into the second spot. Burkina Faso’s Marthe Koala equalled her own national record of 6.64m to move into the overall lead. Cuba’s Adriana Rodriguez achieved the same mark, temporarily moving her into the top three.
The positions changed again after the javelin, with Vetter excelling in her strongest event, throwing 54.77m. Krizsan wasn’t too far behind, though, throwing 52.02m. It meant just 36 points separated the pair going into the final discipline, the 800m. Koala, Kendell Williams and Maria Huntington occupied the next three spots.
Krizsan, a strong 800m runner, easily made up the difference on Vetter in the final event, clocking 2:11.51 to Vetter’s 2:22.33 and securing the title with 6651. Vetter took second place with 6536, her best ever score outside a major championships, while Williams came through to finish third with 6383.
Just 10 points separated the next four positions as the top seven women scored 6300+ and the first 12 finishers bettered 6200.
Jess Whittington and Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics