Damian Warner breaks Canadian, Pan Am decathlon records

Damian Warner broke the 19-year-old Canadian decathlon record Thursday night in Toronto, finishing with 8,659 points to win gold and also set a new Pan Am Games mark.

London, Ont., athlete eclipses Michael Smith's 19-year-old mark

Damian Warner shattered the Canadian and Pan Am Games decathlon records. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press )

Damian Warner broke the Canadian and Pan Am Games decathlon records Thursday night in Toronto, finishing with 8,659 points to shatter Michael Smith's 19-year-old mark.

Warner, a 25-year-old from London, Ont., blew away the field in the closing 1,500-metre race to clinch the gold medal and beat Smith's record of 8,626 points that had stood since 1996.

Warner led the decathlon from wire to wire, finishing first in the 100 metres, 400 metres, 110-metre hurdles, long jump and the 1,500 metres.

Grenada's Kurt Felix took the silver medal while Brazil's Luiz Alberto De Araujo got the bronze.

With Smith looking on from the broadcast booth above the track, Warner needed to run four minutes 29 seconds in the 1,500 metres to break the record. With about 800 metres to go, the six-foot athlete broke off from the pack, and ran alone the rest of the way to finish in 4:24.73, about five seconds under his personal best.

Smith, who set the record at Gotzis in 1996, told The Canadian Press earlier in the day that he knew Warner was going to break his record. He'd be thrilled, he said, to see it happen.

The admiration is mutual.

"That guy is amazing," Warner said of Smith. "There's a reason that record stood for 19 years, and it took a lot to get that, and I'm so thankful for it.

"Michael Smith is just an amazing athlete and someone I look up to a lot. I'm glad I could be mentioned in the same name as him."

Long after  Warner had shattered one of Canada's oldest track and field records, the decathlete was posing for pictures and shaking hands with literally every starstruck fan along the York University stadium railing.

The epic victory lap was Warner's way of saying thanks.

"I tried to [shake every hand], because when I came to the track today everybody and myself knew that I had to run a fast time in the 1,500 and the whole time, I didn't know how I was on pace, and I just tried to . . . feed off the crowd," Warner said, flashing his wide smile.

"Whenever I went down the backstretch and the homestretch I could just hear the crowd going crazy, and I wouldn't have been able to run that time without them and I just wanted to show my thanks in any way possible."

Warner won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2014 and world championship bronze in 2013. He finished fifth at the 2012 London Olympics.

Marchant wins bronze

Earlier, Canada's Lanni Marchant won a bronze medal in the women's 10,000 metres. 

The 31-year-old, who owns the Canadian record in the women's marathon, posted a time of 32:46.03. 

Mexico's Brenda Flores won the gold while Desiree Davila of the U.S. took the silver. 

The top four runners all ran times which were under the Pan Am record set in 2011. Flores owns the new record with a mark of 32:41.33. 

Marchant, Flores and Davila all held the lead in the last 1,000 metres of the race, but it was Flores who had the last burst of energy.

Canada now has 69 gold medals and 187 overall, trailing only the U.S. in both categories. 

With files from The Canadian Press 

With files from The Canadian Press


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