The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
It is quite fitting that in a year where Ashton Eaton has set World Indoor and Outdoor records at the Heptathlon and Decathlon respectively, Gunnar Nixon became the first ever American to win the Decathlon World Junior title in the history of the event after a fantastic 2-day competition here in Barcelona.
Overnight, the American from Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) had a 10-point margin at the top of the standings from Tim Dekker of the Netherlands and that in fact was the first time the American found himself in top position after no fewer than 5 men swapped names at the top of the scoreboard over the course of the first 5 events!
As the athletes came back to the track this morning Nixon quickly lost his top spot to Dekker who ran a faster 110m Hurdles and then Jake Stein of Australia, the reigning World Youth champion whose class in the throwing events saw him leapfrog back in the lead courtesy of massive 51.43 and 69.61 in the Discus and Javelin Throw respectively.
However Stein’s poor showing in the Pole Vault meant the Australian had only an 86-point lead over Nixon coming into the tenth and last event, the 1500m.
On paper, Nixon is a better runner while Stein, whose built is perfect for the strongest events, is commonly not as comfortable on the track.
The plan for both athletes was clear: Nixon needed to beat Stein by more than 15 seconds to take gold; Stein on the other hand had to try and remain within that margin behind the American if he was to add another gold to his pedigree.
At the bell, Stein was still in pursuit but Nixon’s gap was increasing ever so much. The blond American eventually won the race in 4:22.36 with Stein struggling to complete the final lap. He clocked 4:46.05 way back and Nixon knew before the final official results flashed on the scoreboard that the medal would be his.
Nixon capped the day with a total of 8018 Personal Best and World Junior lead with Jake Stein also setting a Personal Best and his third Oceania Junior record of the year at 7951 points.
Dekker managed 4:34.34 in the 1500m to maintain his third position overall closing with a PB 7815. Australia’s second man in the field Cedric Dubler, who at 17 years of age was one of the youngest in the field, closed with a PB 7588 points in fourth. Dubler’s 21-member support camp was one of the loudest in the stands.
The depth in this spectacular competition was such that 11 of the top 12 athletes set Personal Bests with Estonia’s Karl Robert Saluri’s score of 7583 points in fifth also being a national record.
It was a delight to see all decathletes complete their 2-day efforts here in Barcelona with the traditional joint lap of honour during which Nixon could hardly control his tears of joy.
"I didn’t have any extraordinary performance, I just had 10 good performances and none bad," he analysed tonight.
"The best part of the Decathlon was the last 100m in the last event. I knew I had enough space on the Australian guy to get the title and in the last 20 metres I almost had tears coming down."
"My role model is the one and only Bryan Clay, he’s a great decathlete but above all he’s a fantastic person so he’s my idol."