Damian Warner sets Canadian decathlon record in winning 4th Hypo Meeting title
Scores 8,795 points to improve upon his mark of 8,695 set at 2015 world championships
Damian Warner found an answer to his pole vault struggles of a month ago en route to his fourth Hypo Meeting title in men's decathlon and a new Canadian record on Sunday.
The 2016 Olympic bronze medallist set a season-best jump of 4.80 metres in Gotzis, Austria, after recording a no height at the Commonwealth Games when Warner missed three attempts at 4.50. The London, Ont., native achieved two other SBs on Sunday and amassed a world-leading 8,795 points over 10 disciplines at the two-day competition.
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"It means a lot," an exhausted Warner told reporters. "Coming into this decathlon was one of the harder preparations that I've had. I've been battling ankle problems and a couple of days ago I wasn't sure I was going to be able to start [the competition]. I owe a lot of thanks to the people on my team."
Warner's old mark of 8,695 was set at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, one month after he won gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Warner becomes the ninth highest scoring decathlete of all-time and No. 2-ranked Canadian on the all-time list behind 2016 Olympic men's high jump gold medallist Derek Drouin (seventh overall).
Outstanding performance from <a href="https://twitter.com/DamianWarner?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DamianWarner</a>!! 8795 is a HUGE May score in a year with no “big” championship.—@treyhardee
"What I am most pleased with is the focus during the two days, the calmness in his approach to each event regardless of whether the first try was good or not so good and the ability to stay even during the two days of competition," Warner's coach Les Gramantik told The Canadian Press. "In combined events, we often get criticized if the score is not good. But decathlon and heptathlon is like golf … there are ten holes, and the score accumulates and that's the way you win."
Warner is also the fourth four-time champion in Gotzis, joining decathlete Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic and heptathletes Carolina Kluft of Sweden and Germany's Sabine Braun. Sebrle holds the Hypo Meeting record of 9,026 points.
Warner, who needed to run four minutes 42 seconds in the 1,500 — the final discipline — to establish a national mark, Warner stopped the clock in 4:26.59, crossing the line third in a field of 20 and picking up 767 points.
Estonia's Maicel Uibo, who entered Sunday in third spot, finished second with a personal-best 8,514 points while Dutch athlete Pieter Braun rounded out the podium at 8,342, also a PB.
Vowed to rebound
Last year, Warner scored 8,591 points in Gotzis to fall 104 shy of his previous Canadian record, and defeat Dutch athlete Eeclo Sintnicolaas.
Sunday's victory allows the Calgary resident to put the disappointment of Commonwealth further behind him. Warner sat first ahead of the pole vault in Gold Coast, Australia, before slipping to sixth spot and dropping out of the event after winning four years earlier in Glasgow.
"The disappointment was huge, but just like any athlete at this calibre, they put these things behind them and learn from it," said Gramantik.
Warner later declared he was healthy, that he "just didn't execute well" and vowed to rebound.
The 28-year-old did just that Sunday, running the 110-metre hurdles in a winning time of 13.56 seconds to begin his day with a SB. A season-best throw of 47.32 metres followed in discus as Warner increased his lead over his closest competitor, 2015 Hypo champion Kai Kazmirek of Germany, to 403 points entering pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500.
Warner remained on top with a throw of 61.94m in javelin and held a 275-point advantage over Uibo.
On Saturday, Warner attained SBs in the 400 (47.72) and long jump (7.81m) after opening this year's Hypo Meeting with a 10.31 winning time in the 100. He also competed in shot put (14.83) and high jump (2.03m), building a 218-point advantage against Germany's Kai Kazmirek, the 2015 Hypo Meeting champion, entering Sunday.
Earlier this season, Warner placed second in heptathlon at indoor worlds in Birmingham, England, where he scored 6,343 points in seven events to break Michael Smith's 25-year-old Canadian record.
A stomach bug slowed Warner at last summer's world track and field championships in London, England, where he finished fifth.