DOHA (Reuters) - Canada’s Damian Warner snatched the lead after the opening day of decathlon competition at the world athletics championships on Wednesday but will have restless night with world record holder and defending champion Kevin Mayer lurking just 30 points back.
Sandwiched between the two gold medal favorites is another Canadian, Pierce LePage, but it is the Frenchman, who has a history of turning in big scores on the second day, that Warner will be wary of.
After a long, grueling first day in the air-conditioned comfort of the Khalifa Stadium, there was not much separating the top three.
Olympic bronze medalist Warner led the table with 4,513 points, followed by LePage 27 points back on 4,486 and Mayer, the Olympic silver medalist, a further three points adrift with 4,483.
“Some decent performances but also some performances that didn’t go so well but I am still in first place after Day One and I just have to come out and attack Day Two,” said Warner.
“He (Mayer) is really a second day person, he has a lot of strong events he really doesn’t have a weakness right now. Obviously we know he is going to come out strong tomorrow and we just have to be right there to put up a fight.”
Warner, winner of Pan Am Games gold in August, got the competition off to a flying start by clocking the top time in the 100 of 10.35 seconds and was second best in the long jump.
But the Canadian could do no better than eighth in shot put while Mayer had a personal best of 16.82 to take over top spot after three events.
Warner jumped 2.02m in the high jump to edge out the Frenchman who had 1.99, enabling the Canadian to trim Mayer’s advantage to 11 points.
It came down to the 400m to decide who would lead at the end of the day.
Running in the final of three heats, LePage left the field in his wake as he clocked the top time and personal best of 47.35 seconds that shot him into second overall.
Warner came across the line in fifth in 48.12 but that was enough to vault him into the lead ahead of Mayer, who struggled home in 12th in 48.99.
“All things considered I did not perform at my best,” said Mayer. “I still recorded some PBs (personal bests) but did not enjoy it as much.
“I hope to regain my rhythm tomorrow to better enjoy the competition. The events where I struggle the most are over.
“My second day is better so I can’t wait.”
Additional reporting Gene Cherry, Editing by Pritha Sarkar