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With 9126 world record, Mayer joins list of all-time great decathletes

Kevin Mayer (Photo by AFP / Getty Images)
MONACO, September 17, 2018 - Kevin Mayer had already established himself as a combined events superstar, but the French all-rounder elevated his status to an all-time great by smashing the decathlon world record in Talence on Sunday (16).

Had it not been for his three fouls in the decathlon long jump at last month’s European Championships in Berlin, Mayer most likely wouldn’t have competed at the Decastar meeting. But in the aftermath of that setback, the 26-year-old gained redemption in the best possible way: by smashing the world record.

In fact, it was the second world record of the day, coming just seven hours after Eliud Kipchoge clocked a stunning 2:01:39 at the Berlin Marathon.Performing in front of a highly supportive home crowd, Mayer led from the outset, sprinting to 10.55 in the 100m, leaping 7.80m in the long jump, throwing 16.00m in the shot put, clearing 2.05m in the high jump and covering 400m in 48.42 to end the first day with 4563 points.

His momentum continued on the second day, speeding to 13.75 in the 110m hurdles, throwing 50.54m in the discus, clearing 5.45m in the pole vault, throwing 71.90m in the javelin before running the 1500m in 4:36.11, bringing his winning tally to 9126.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Mayer after adding 81 points to the world record set by USA’s Ashton Eaton at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. “We live for moments like this that are simply incredible. I couldn’t cry. I don’t have any more tears left because I was crying so much before the 1500m.”

Multiple world and Olympic champion Eaton graciously expressed his admiration for Mayer’s achievement. “That was an incredible display of ability!” he tweeted. “I’m super happy for Kevin Mayer and even more for the future of the decathlon. The important thing to me has always been to keep pushing the limit and inspiring others to do the same. The more 9000 can become commonplace, the better.”

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Kevin Mayer

Born: 10 February 1992. Coach: Bertrand Valcin.

The third oldest of four brothers, Mayer was exposed to sport from as old as he can remember. His father and mother excelled as national standard athletes in skiing and tennis, respectively. Older sibling Sebastian is a leading freestyle skier.

Mayer himself played tennis, rugby and handball and although he was accomplished in all fields and enjoyed the competition, he grew bored at the repetitive nature of the training.

He first tasted athletics aged 14 and started out as a middle-distance runner and a high jumper. “When I tried training for many events, I found it was not as boring as training for other sports,” he adds. “I didn’t want to do just one event, so that’s why I moved to the decathlon.”

With natural body awareness and a gift for quickly picking up technical skills, he made rapid progress. In 2008, aged just 16, he left his hometown to head to Montpellier to be coached by Bertrand Valcin and within less than a year was crowned world U18 champion in the eight-discipline octathlon. His success in Bressanone came as a huge surprise, but in many respects it unlocked the key to his future success.

Under Valcin’s guidance, the next year Mayer secured the world U20 decathlon title in Moncton and 12 months later was crowned European junior champion.

Aged just 20, he posted a stunning PB of 8447 in Brussels just a month before the London 2012 Olympic Games to raise expectations he could potentially earn a medal on his Olympic debut. Yet Mayer performed well under-par in the British capital, finishing a distant 15th with a score of 7952.

Mayer, however, refused to be too downcast by his London experience and vowed to learn from the disappointment.

In 2013 he finished fourth at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, just 66 points shy of a podium position. The next year he secured a silver medal at the European Championships in Zurich.

A glute injury kept him out of the 2015 World Championships, but he vowed to return in 2016.

Amid a blizzard of PBs in Rio, Mayer applied the sort of pressure the all-conquering Ashton Eaton had not experienced during a five-year period of total dominance on the global combined events scene. He finished just 59 points adrift of Eaton with a huge PB of 8834 to take the silver medal.

Eaton retired at the end of 2016 and Mayer wasted no time in establishing himself as the world’s best decathlete. At the start of 2017 he won the European indoor heptathlon title with a continental record of 6479 and then went on to win the world title in London.

Mayer became the first athlete in history, man or woman, to win world titles in combined events at the U18, U20 and senior level.

Seven months later, Mayer won the world indoor title in Birmingham, joining an exclusive group of just four men to have concurrently held world indoor and outdoor titles.

Given he is only 26 years of age and is still rapidly improving, it seems Mayer will continue to go from strength to strength.
Mayer’s personal bests

100m: 10.55 (0.3m/s) Talence 2018
Long jump: 7.80m (1.2m/s) Talence 2018
Shot put: 16.51m Paris 2018
High jump: 2.10m (i) Aubiere 2010 / 2.09m Brussels 2012
400m: 48.26 London 2017
110m hurdles: 13.71 Paris 2018
Discus: 52.38m Ratingen 2018
Pole vault: 5.60m (i) Rouen 2018 / 5.45m Talence 2018
Javelin: 71.90m Talence 2018
1500m: 4:18.04 Brussels 2012
Heptathlon: 6479 Belgrade 2017
Decathlon: 9126 Talence 2018

Decathlon world record progression
8622 Daley Thompson (GBR) Götzis, May 1980
8649 Guido Kratschmer (FRG) Filderstadt-Bernhausen, June 1980
8704 Daley Thompson (GBR) Götzis, May 1982
8723 Jürgen Hingsen (FRG) Ulm, August 1982
8743 Daley Thompson (GBR) Athens, September 1982
8779 Jurgen Hingsen (FRG) Filderstadt-Bernhausen, June 1983
8798 Jurgen Hingsen (FRG) Mannheim, May 1984
8798 Daley Thompson (GBR) Los Angeles, August 1984
8891 Dan O’Brien (USA) Talence, September 1992
8994 Tomas Dvorak (CZE) Prague, July 1999
9026 Roman Sebrle (CZE) Götzis, May 2001
9039 Ashton Eaton (USA) Eugene, June 2012
9045 Ashton Eaton (USA) Beijing, August 2015
9126 Kevin Mayer (FRA) Talence, September 2018

World all-time decathlon top 10
9126 Kevin Mayer (FRA) Talence, September 2018
9045 Ashton Eaton (USA) Beijing, August 2015
9026 Roman Sebrle (CZE) Götzis, May 2001
8994 Tomas Dvorak (CZE) Prague, July 1999
8891 Dan O’Brien (USA) Talence, September 1992
8847 Daley Thompson (GBR) Los Angeles, August 1984
8832 Bryan Clay (USA) Eugene, June 2008
8815 Erki Nool (EST) Edmonton, August 2001
8795 Damian Warner (CAN) Götzis, May 2018
8790 Trey Hardee (USA) Berlin, August 2009
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