Michael Schrader crosses the line in the 1500m in Beijing (Getty Images) © Copyright
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After Götzis breakthrough, Schrader cautiously optimistic for Berlin

Germany has found a new medal candidate with less than three months to go before the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin Germany (15 to 23 August). Twenty-one-year old Michael Schrader sensationally broke the 8500 points barrier in the Decathlon winning the 35th edition of the Hypo Meeting in Götzis.

Schrader smashed his PB with 8522 points, a world lead, beating former NCAA champion Trey Hardee from the USA by just six points. Schrader, who emerged last year as a great German decathlon hope finishing tenth at the Olympic Games in Beijing, has become the first German to win in Götzis since former Olympic champion Christian Schenk’s victory in 1990.

Götzis victory a 'dream come true'

The last German able to break the 8500 points barrier was 1997 World bronze medallist Frank Busemann in 2000 when he scored 8531 points in Götzis.

“The win in Götzis is breathtaking,” Schrader admitted. “It’s a dream goal for every decathlete to win in this meeting. I knew that these results were within my reach but I expected 8400 points as the most realistic target. The fact that I put everything together is fantastic but it was a surprise.”

Schrader’s highlight of his weekend in the famous Austrian meeting was a remarkable leap to 8.05m in the Long Jump. “I expected to jump 7.90, so 8.05 was a big bonus.”

Schrader, an athlete from the Bayer Uedingen Dormagen athletics club, now ranks ninth on the German all-time list. In Götzis he set seven individual PBs. The only events in which he could not improve his PBs were the High Jump, the 400m and the 1500m. At the end of the first day he had to battle cramps during the High Jump and the 400m.

“I thought about giving up but I wanted to finish, although I felt pain in my calves. When I was in the starting blocks for the 110m Hurdles on Sunday morning I felt that I was fit to compete. In comparison the final metres in the 1500 were not so tough as the first steps in the 400 metres.”

The final score was remarkable considering that Schrader was forced to stop training for some weeks because of a stress fracture in his ankle last December.

“I did a lot of alternative training working on my strength. Acqua-jogging was part of my winter training. I started training again properly only in March during a training camp in South Africa.”

Voss - coach, mentor and friend

Schrader had started training in 2004 and has been coached by 1987 World Decathlon champion Torsten Voss since 2005. The athlete from Duisburg belongs to the “Bundeswehr”, the German Army and comes from a sporting family. “My brother is a sprinter. My parents were also athletes.”
Coach Voss admits that Schrader’s 8522 points is a big surprise. “It was remarkable what he did this weekend,” said Voss, whose personal best in the event was 8680. “We expected 8400 points.”

For Schrader, Voss is not only a great coach but also a role model. “I respect him not only as a great decathlete, but also because he is a good friend. I train in a great training group. We are always very motivated and we push each other in training.”

In Götzis Schrader set three PBs on the first day: 10.64 in the 100m, 8.05m in the Long Jump and 14.33m in the Shot Put. During the second day he opened with 14.21 in the 110m Hurdles, followed by 43.09m the discus, 5.00m in the Pole Vault and 64.04m in the Javelin Throw.

“The conditions in Götzis were excellent apart from the wind during the pole vault,” he said.

He lined up in the final 1500m in second place, 133 points behind leader Hardee. He took the initiative from the start running on the heels of Nicklas Wiberg from Sweden and finished second, narrowly missing his event PB with 4:22.26. Hardee trailed well back in 4:44.79. The race proved to be decisive as Schrader managed to prevail by just six points.

“My coach told me that I needed 4:25 in the 1500 metres to reach 8500 points. I knew that a margin of 20 seconds would have enabled me to win.”

Despite his breakthrough Schrader played down the expectations before the World Championships in Berlin. “It does not happen every day that I have so many people around me asking me for autographs but I don’t want to set any goals for Berlin. I just want to continue to achieve good and consistent results. However I am aware that it is not always possible to do that.”

The German triumph was completed by Pascal Behrenbruch’s third place showing who scored a PB of 8374 points, beating World record holder and World champion Roman Sebrle thanks to a great second day in which he clocked 14.02 in the high hurdles and speared the javelin to 70.24m, both new PBs. 

The definitive German Decathlon team for the World Championships in Berlin will be officially announced after the Ratingen IAAF Combined Events meeting on 20-21 June.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF