By the time he lined up for the 1500m, Kevin Mayer knew that the hard work had been done. All that was left was about four-and-a-half minutes of running to secure the title.
It sounds easy, of course, but the 1500m at the end of a decathlon looks anything but fun.
Thankfully for Mayer, the Olympic silver medallist had such a sizeable margin that he didn’t have to run flat-out. As Japan’s Akihiko Nakamura darted to the front, Mayer was near the front of the chase pack for most of the race. Once he knew that Rico Freimuth and Kai Kazmirek, his nearest pursuers, were some way behind, Mayer coasted around the final lap and crossed the line in eighth place in 4:36.73.
It brought his tally to a world-leading 8768, slightly shy of the French record he set in Rio last year when he ran much harder in the 1500m in a bid to chase Ashton Eaton. It is also France’s first senior global title in the decathlon.
“I am so, so tired,” said Mayer. “I cannot even believe I am the world champion. I just want to say this is the most amazing public in the world.”
Freimuth finished within four seconds of German teammate Kazmirek to maintain his silver medal position, scoring 8564, while Kazmirek secured bronze with a season’s best of 8488.
It’s the first time since 1987 that two German athletes have finished on the decathlon podium at the World Championships and the first all-European decathlon podium since 2001.
Estonia’s Janek Oiglane, the surprise performer of the two-day contest, ran 4:39.24 in the 1500m to bring his score to 8371, good for fourth place.
Canada’s Damian Warner finished strongly in the 1500m to record a season’s best of 4:28.39, but it wasn’t enough to lift out of the fifth place he had occupied since the discus. The Olympic bronze medallist scored 8309.
Oleksiy Kasyanov, who was third in the overall standings with just three events to go, ultimately finished sixth with 8234.
Kurt Felix and Adam Sebastian Helcelet rounded out the top eight with 8227 and 8222 respectively.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF