Decathlon record holder Kevin Mayer wins Ultimate Garden Clash

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Kevin Mayer won the World Athletics Championships in 2017. Photo: Samuel Blanck.

Decathlon world record holder Kevin Mayer took a comfortable victory in a special combined events edition of the World Athletics Ultimate Garden Clash.

Mayer beat the reigning gold and silver medallists from last year’s World Athletics Championships, Niklas Kaul and Maicel Uibo, in a competition featuring pole vault, shot put and shuttle runs.

Following two recent Garden Clashes involving pole vaulters, the trio first had to vault over a bar set at 4.00 metres as many times as possible within a 10 minute period.

Next came the shot put, where they tried to throw further than 12 metres within the same time frame. Finally, their endurance was put to the test with five minutes of back-and-forth runs between two cones placed 20 metres apart.

Despite initially appearing unready to start, Kevin led with nine successful clearances after five minutes of vaulting, with Maicel on eight and Niklas on seven.

With one second left on the clock, the Frenchman – who had his grandfather watching on – squeezed in a last-ditch effort to lead with 17, compared to 15 for Uibo and 14 for Kaul, with two disciplines remaining.

It was a similar pattern in the shot as Mayer managed a machine-like 28 throws in 10 minutes, jogging back to the circle between each attempt. He averaged an incredible 21.43 seconds between throws to beat Kaul with a score of 22 and Uibo with 20.

Competing in Montpellier in southern France, Mayer joked that the ending was more straightforward than in a decathlon. “I thought it would be tough but it was easier than a 1500,” he said.

Germany-based Niklas Kaul, who was running indoors, disagreed: “With the shuttle run you have to stop and then accelerate and I’m not good at that.”

But the 22-year-old was glad to be back with his rivals again, even if only virtually. “It feels more like a competition when you know Maicel and Kevin are doing the same thing in other countries and as fast as possible. You know you have to be good so you don’t look like you are not in shape.”

There was no doubting Kaul’s form as he ran 1080 metres in the allotted five minutes, a total of 27 shuttle runs and one more than both of his competitors.

This ensured he finished second with a final score of 63, behind Mayer on 71 and in front of Uibo’s 61.

The USA-based Estonian international admitted struggling with the humidity in Florida. “It’s crazy. It got a little tricky with the pole vault in the end, my hand started slipping. Then in the shot put, the neck got a little slippery when I started sweating.”

Having enjoyed the three-event series, Mayer hopes that multi-event athletes will have more opportunities to run, jump and throw on the international stage like he hopes to do at the Paris Diamond League this September.

“We have to make our voice count,” he said. “I love to practise my sport and I want to improve myself to have better feelings in each event.”

Watch back the Ultimate Garden Clash – Combined Events Edition on the World Athletics YouTube channel.

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First published on: 8 June, 2020 12:04 pm

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