World Record! Kevin Mayer Totals 9126

A javelin PR helped make Kevin Mayer the first Frenchman ever to claim the World Record in the decathlon. (JEAN-PIERRE DURAND)

Talence, France, September 15–16—Just as Dan O’Brien did in ’92, Kevin Mayer bounced back from a no-mark nightmare at a major championships to claim a World Record in the decathlon at the annual Décastars meet.

The American, of course, was the reigning world champion as Barcelona’s Olympic year unfolded, favored not only to become the Games gold medalist but also tabbed as likely to claim the World Record. O’Brien, unfortunately, then became famous for no-heighting in the Olympic Trials vault and not even making it to the Games. But some 10 weeks later, fueled by having suffered such a crushing disappointment, the Idaho alum traveled to France and at age 26 slipped by the all-time high held by Daley Thompson.

Enter Frenchman Mayer, also 26, who began this year as the reigning world champ. Based on his early-season form, he became the subject of World Record whispers even during the indoor season. But the target meet was always the European Championships in early August. A PR 100 of 10.64 to kick things off in Berlin had his devotees amped to the max. Then disaster. Channeling O’Brien, he 3-fouled the long jump, not even considering a safety jump on his final attempt. “This was a big mistake,” he admitted. “I took a high risk. But I do not regret the risk.”

Fast-forward 5½ weeks and Mayer was back in action in southwest France, clearly with no goal other than to surpass Ashton Eaton as the event’s highest scorer ever. It would be a see-saw battle of the numbers throughout the two days.

100: Things couldn’t have started better for Mayer, who had just a hint of wind, 0.3, as he chopped his PR down to 10.55. Still, that left him 77 points behind Eaton, who had run 10.23. “I’ve never been as stressed as today before a competition,” Mayer said after the race. “I was asked 20,000 times about the World Record.”

Long Jump: Keeping the pressure on, Mayer then produced another PR, long jumping, 25-7¼ (7.80). But he lost ground to Eaton, who had leapt 25-10¼ (7.88). He was now 97 points behind.

Shot: No PR, but at 52-6 (16.00) it was the second-best mark of his career and he made up massive ground on Eaton, who had thrown but 47-7¾ (14.52). Just like that, he was only 6 points behind.

High Jump: Mayer ended up well shy of his PR, but with 6-8¾ (2.05) compared to Eaton’s 6-7 (2.01) he suddenly was 31 points ahead of the American’s record pace. Needing 12 jumps to get that high though, he called the competition “apocalyptic,” and said it took away a lot of energy from the 400.

400: Eaton is the greatest 1-lapper the decathlon has ever seen, so Mayer had no hopes of coming close to the WR holder’s 45.00. But he came close to his PR of 48.26, running his No. 4 time ever, 48.42. So he wound up the first day 140 points behind.

110 Hurdles: The hurdles were always an Eaton strong point, and he had run 13.69, 0.02 better than Mayer’s PR. Mayer didn’t PR here, but at 13.75 he was very close and lost only 8 points to Eaton’s pace. He was now behind by 148. “It was tough to get going this morning,” he said. “The race seemed longer than usual.”

Discus: Not a strong suit for Eaton, he had reached only 142-2 (43.34) in Beijing. With his top 10 meets averaging almost 5m better than that, Mayer looked to make up ground, and he did, his 165-10 (50.54) being his second-best mark ever. Not only did he make up ground, he also went back into the lead, albeit by a single point.

Pole Vault: Mayer did his best outdoor vaulting ever, scaling 17-10½ (5.45). Eaton had cleared a credible 17-¾ (5.20), but all of a sudden Mayer was 180 points to the good and the record seemed all but certain, given his PRs in the two concluding events.

Javelin: On his third throw Mayer raised his PR to 235-11 (71.90), compared to Eaton’s 208-9 (63.63) and the WR became even more certain as he had a buffer of 205 points to work with.

1500: Mayer didn’t figure to come close to Eaton’s 4:17.52, but he didn’t need to. He needed just 4:49.03 to up the all-time best by a point. But he ran much faster than that, a 4:36.11 that topped him out at 9126, a WR by 81 points.

Amazingly enough, he had tallied the same score, 4563, on each of the two days, the latter representing the highest Day 2 total ever.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said the new recordholder. “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.”

The deposed Eaton tweeted, ““That was an incredible display of ability!”


Décastar; Talence, France, September 15-16—

Dec: 1. Kevin Mayer (Fra) 9126 WR (old WR 9045 Ashton Eaton [US] ’15) (10.55 PR, 25-7¼/7.80 PR, 52-6/16.00, 6-8¾/2.05, 48.42 [4563–1], 13.75, 165-10/ 50.54, 17-10½/5.45 out PR, 235-11/71.90 PR, 4:36.11 [4563]);

2. Arthur Abele (Ger) 8310 (10.84, 23-7¼/7.19, 49-10½/15.20, 6-4/1.93, 48.48, 13.86, 146-6/44.67, 15-7/4.75, 214-5/65.35, 4:33.78); 3. Tim Nowak (Ger) 8229 PR (11.19, 24-9¾/7.56, 47-7/14.50, 6-5/1.96, 49.29, 14.72, 148-8/45.31, 15-11/4.85, 210-0/64.00, 4:26.80);

4. Pieter Braun (Neth) 7965; 5. Ruben Gado (Fra) 7957; 6. Bastien Auzeil (Fra) 7818; 7. Pawel Wiesolek (Pol) 7684; 8. Marcus Nilsson (Swe) 7627; 9. Jeremy Lelievre (Fra) 7329; 10. Patryk Baran (Pol) 7276 PR; 11. Florian Geffrouais (Fra) 7187; 12. Vitali Zhuk (Blr) 7018; 13. Steven Bastien (US) 6750 (nh PV).


Hept: 1. Carolin Schäfer (Ger) 6457 (13.34, 5-10¾/1.80, 44-9/13.64, 24.08, 20-¼/6.10, 169-3/51.58, 2:15.10);

2. Geraldine Ruckstuhl (Swi) 6391 NR (13.85, 6-0/1.83, 45-4¼/13.82, 24.96, 19-6¾/5.96, 180-9/55.11, 2:13.98); 3. Katerina Cachová (CzR) 6381 (13.23, 5-10¾/1.80, 43-8½/13.32, 24.44, 20-7¼/6.28, 152-2/46.39, 2:14.61); 4. Xenia Krizsan (Hun) 6244 (13.76, 5-10¾/1.80, 45-7¾/13.91, 25.44, 19-11/6.07, 158-11/48.44, 2:13.26); 5. Grit Sadeiko (Est) 6179 (13.31, 5-10¾/1.80, 40-6/12.34, 24.83, 19-5½/5.93, 156-6/47.70, 2:14.98); 6. Verena Preiner (Aut) 6133; 7. Daryna Sloboda (Ukr) 5963; 8. Esther Turpin (Fra) 5898; 9. Diane Marie-Hardy (Fra) 5869; 10. Yuki Yamasaki (Jpn) 5754; 11. Eri Utsunomiya (Jpn) 5730 PR; 12. Allison Reaser (US) 5650.