If ever there was an example of how perilous the decathlon could be, the pole vault in London is it.
Having dominated the competition from the early stages, long-time leader Kevin Mayer looked to be on course for gold. There were even whispers of a world record, although it was clear that was a huge ask as it would require Mayer equalling his PBs in the three remaining events.
But Mayer’s hopes of simply completing the decathlon nearly came grinding to a halt.
The French record-holder opened the pole vault at 5.10m, but aborted his first attempt, narrowly avoiding an awkward landing by instead doing a forward roll as he hit the ground. He then missed his second attempt at that height. One more failure would mean no points for that event.
On his final try, Mayer achieved the required height but came down close to the bar. Miraculously, it stayed on.
As if that wasn’t enough risk-taking for one day, Mayer skipped past 5.20m and went straight to 5.30m but was unable to clear it.
With that 5.10m clearance being some 30 centimetres shy of his best, Mayer’s aims of getting close to the 8900-point mark – or even the 9000-point barrier – have taken a hit. But his primary goal, of course, is to win and he looks on course to do that as he has a 116-point lead with two events remaining.
Germany’s Kai Kazmirek cleared the same height as Mayer to move into third, exactly 100 point adrift of compatriot Rico Freimuth, who cleared 4.80m. Kazmirek is usually a superior javelin thrower and 1500m runner, so Freimuth can’t afford to take it easy if he is to hold on to the overall runner-up spot.
World bronze medallist Damian Warner, despite not being at 100%, continues to push on through this decathlon. His 4.70m clearance has kept him in fifth place overall.
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov slipped down a place to fourth after vaulting 4.70m, while Janek Oiglane is enjoying the competition of his life. The Estonian equalled his lifetime best of 5.10m to move into sixth.
Spain's Pau Tonneson was the top performer in the pole vault. His 5.30m clearance catapulted him from 15th to ninth overall.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF