Canadian wins decathlon gold in at the Tokyo Games on Thursday evening with a Commonwealth record score of 9018
Damian Warner entered the contest with the world’s fourth best decathlon score and he exited it with the fourth best score but the difference elsewhere was huge. He won Olympic gold and broke 9000 points to score an Olympic and Commonwealth record.
Warner had previously won Commonwealth and Pan Am titles but globally had always fallen short of the highest honours.
He was fifth in London and then improved to a bronze in the 2013 World Championships and a silver in 2015 and then a third in Rio behind Ashton Eaton and Kevin Mayer.
His scores then were good – 8695 and 8666 in 2015 and 2016 – but he looked short of ever really setting the event alight and challenging the likes of Eaton.
He even looked like he might be on the wane when he was only fifth in London in 2017 with 8309 and again he was not at his very best in Doha in 2019 with 8529 but at least he won a medal.
He did look like he was able to score highly in Gotzis, as he set a Canadian record of 8795 in 2018 and won again in 2019 with 8711.
That he might be a different athlete was proven in Gotzis in May this year when he scored a record legal wind-free first day score and held on to score 8995 and move to that fourth spot all-time and instilled himself as favourite for Tokyo.
The Canadian had a brilliant first day in Tokyo too though slightly down on his Austrian score.
He opened with a decathlon world best equalling 100m of 10.12 followed by an Olympic decathlon long jump record of 8.24m – a mark that would have won a medal in the individual event in Tokyo – to build up a huge 206 points lead.
His other marks on day one were solid enough – a 14.80m shot put, 2.02m high jump and a 400m of 47.48.
His lead was cut though as world junior champion Ashley Moloney put together stunning marks of 10.34, 7.64m, 14.49m, 2.11m and a brilliant 46.29. In his first major senior event the thrilling prospect was second overnight on 4641 points.
The gap may have closed to Warner in the 400m but he bounced back on the opening event on day two as his 13.46 into a 1.0 headwind – unusual so far in Tokyo – was another decathlon Olympic best and his lead was back to 162 points.
A 48.67 discus and a 4.90m pole vault moved Warner even further away and clawed back points on his big Gotzis score from earlier this summer. His lead was now 221.
Warner isn’t the best of javelin throwers – he was seventh best – but a 63.44m kept him over 200 points clear. He finished with 4:31.08 for 1500m which saw him add 23 points to his Canadian and Commonwealth record and the 9018 score added over a 100 points to the Olympic record of 8893 jointly held by Eaton and Roman Sebrle. However he just fell short of that pair’s best mark in second and third all-time – 9045 for Eaton and 9026 for Sebrle, which were both world records at the time.
“We didn’t only get the gold medal, we got 9000 points and joined an elite group,” said Warner.
“It is one of those moments when all of the dreams you have as a kid come true. I don’t know how to react to this. It is something that I never experienced before, it is special.”
The world record-holder Kevin Mayer was in the competition at Tokyo but was quite anonymous for much of it and clearly not at his very best but somehow he matched his Rio silver.
Ninth after a 100m in 10.68 and then he was in fourth or fifth after a 7.50m long jump, 15.07m shot, a 2.08m high jump and a 50.31 400m. Overnight he was 381 points down on Warner and fifth on 4340 points.
On day two, he moved back to fourth with a 13.90 hurdles and began to close on the medallists with a 48.08m discus and a 5.20m pole vault.
The big change though came in the javelin as he unleashed a PB 73.09m which moved him from fourth to a very clear second and a 4:43.17 1500m kept him well clear and he took silver with 8726 points.
Moloney did not match his first day but he held on well enough and his 14.08, 44.38m, 5.00m and 57.12m and gritty 4:39.19 finale gave him bronze on a huge PB score of 8649 which was an Oceania record.
Garrett Scantling (8611 ) and Pierce LePage (PB 8604) completed a quality top five but fell around 40 points short of the medals.
Commonwealth champion Lindon Victor, who may have a tough battle ahead defending in Birmingham if Warner, Moloney and LePage compete finished seventh helped by a 71.56m javelin mark though the best throw came from Karel Tilga with 73.36m after no heighting in the pole vault.