By Mitch Phillips
EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) -French world record holder Kevin Mayer regained the world decathlon title with a late surge on Sunday, climbing from sixth overnight to clinch gold after Olympic champion Damian Warner withdrew through injury.
Mayer, world champion in 2017 and silver medallist in the last two Olympics, did not place in the top three of any of the first seven events but overtook Canada’s Pierce LePage as leader after impressive performances in the pole vault and javelin.
The 30-year-old outpaced LePage in the 1,500 metres, the final event of the competition, to record a score of 8,816 points and win his second world title as well as France’s first medal of the championships.
“It’s amazing. I don’t want to sleep – I want a drink. Everyone who takes part deserves one,” Mayer said.
LePage took silver after finishing with 8,701 points, narrowly ahead of American Zach Ziemek, who took bronze with 8,676 points. The scores were personal bests for both athletes.
Hot favourite Warner had been leading after four events on Saturday but pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 400m, the final event of the opening day of decathlon.
Compatriot LePage stepped into the void with a personal best in the 400m then two more in the 110m hurdles and discus – the latter by almost two metres – to take the overall lead after eight events.
Everything changed in the pole vault, however, as LePage managed only 5.00m and saw his lead shrink considerably.
Mayer and Ziemek both cleared best-of-the day 5.40ms to close in, and with the Frenchman owning vastly superior personal bests in the last two events, he looked to be favourite.
He duly delivered with 70.31m in the javelin, giving him a lead over 100 points on LePage.
Mayer ran the 1,500m in four minutes, 41.44 seconds to finish 10th as LePage finished in 4:42.77.
Ayden Owens-Delerme clocked a personal best 4:13.02 to place first in the event. The Puerto Rican thought he had won bronze and was celebrating before the screen at Hayward Field changed, placing Zielek in third and dropping him to fourth.
Defending world champion Niklas Kaul of Germany, who was 16th overnight, also finished strong after placing second in both javelin and 1,500m to climb up to sixth overall.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, Additional reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad, editing by Toby Davis/Peter Rutherford)