Debt paid in gold, Warner looks ahead to worlds

Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:49pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Decathlete Damian Warner paid back his family and friends for their support in Pan American Games gold on Thursday, but the price may have been steep, the Canadian gambling with a podium finish at the world championships.

For Warner, who grew up two hours from the Pan Am stadium, the considerable risk was worth the reward, a Games gold on home soil in front of his mom to hang alongside the Commonwealth Games gold he won last year.

But it is Olympic and world championship titles that really matter. The biggest of these will be on offer a year from now at the Rio Summer Games, the other up for grabs next month in Beijing.

Regarded as the ultimate athletes, decathletes generally compete in full 10-event competitions just twice a year.

Warner will attempt to jam two major competitions on two different continents into five weeks.

The 25-year-old did not come to the Pan Ams as a tune-up for the worlds, targeting instead the 19-year-old national record of 8,626 points held by Michael Smith and smashing it with a personal best score of 8,659.

"I knew I wanted the Canadian record so bad, I didn't think there was a better place to get it than here at home," said Warner, who competed in his first decathlon at the same York University site.

"Before the 1,500 meters I saw my mom and my uncle and a whole bunch of friends and I was a little emotional and I just tried to hold it all together and I go out there and take care of business."   Continued...

Jul 23, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Damian Warner of Canada celibates winning the men’s athletics decathlon during the 2015 Pan Am Games at CIBC Pan Am Athletics Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports