Canadian Damian Warner has won Olympic gold in the decathlon, handily polishing off his competition and setting records in several events along the way.
He won with an Olympic record-setting 9,018 points. Kevin Mayer of France, who holds the current world decathlon record, took the silver with 8,726 points. Ashley Moloney of Australia won bronze with 8,649 points.
Another Canadian, Pierce LePage, came in fifth place with 8,604 points.
“That’s crazy,” an emotional Warner said, still looking relatively fresh after competing in hot and humid conditions over two days.
“When I was in grade six 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.”
In decathlon, athletes score points based on their performance in 10 events. The points are added up and the athlete with the highest tally wins. The decathlon events, held over two days of competition, are: 100-metre sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-metre sprint, 110-metre hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500-metre run.
Warner was leading after the first day of competition, with commanding performances in the 100 metre, where he tied his own record, and especially, in long jump. The 31-year-old from London, Ont., soared 8.24 metres, the longest in Olympic decathlon history, and a distance that would have earned him a bronze medal in the open men’s long jump earlier in the week.
Warner set another record in the 110-metre hurdles to start off the second day’s competition, running it in 13.46 seconds, one hundredth of a second faster than the previous Olympic record. He also tied his personal best in pole vault: 4.90 metres.
Warner’s partner, Jen Cotten, watched his victory along with his teammates in Canada and said his win was emotional for them all.
“We were all just crying and so emotional and just so happy for him because we want him to be happy and we’re happy that he achieved his dream,” she said. “It was just great to watch and I love watching him have fun.”
Warner, who won bronze at the Rio Olympics, came into the Olympics as the top-ranked decathlete in the world, but the pandemic presented challenges for his training last winter.
“We were kind of left out in the cold, literally,” he told Global News from Japan just before the Olympics. Sports facilities were closed, so he had nowhere to practice, he said.
“So we found an indoor abandoned hockey rink, or one that was also closed down because of COVID. And we got permission from the city and then the university and people from the community all came together. We built this makeshift facility inside a hockey rink so it couldn’t be more Canadian.”
He and his coaches built a long jump pit, brought in a pole vault pit, built a throwing circle and laid down 40 metres of track.
“We were able to train there throughout the winter and it was stressful at times,” Warner said.
“But the results that I’ve had since then showed that it was serviceable.”
— with files from the Canadian Press