Kevin Mayer, European indoor heptathlon champion

Kevin Mayer, European indoor heptathlon champion

Kevin Mayer is European indoor heptathlon champion.

Kevin Mayer is European indoor heptathlon champion, but he suffered to win his third title in this competition on Sunday March 5 in Istanbul. He resisted the comeback of 20-year-old Norwegian hopeful Sander Skotheim, who threatened him all the way in the final 1,000m event.

The decathlon world champion ends his two days of competition with 6,348 points, or 30 small points ahead of the Scandinavian. The Estonian Risto Lillemets wins the bronze medal. In the 800 meters, Frenchman Benjamin Robert won a silver medal, like the men’s 4 x 400 meter tricolor relay a little earlier. Azeddine Habz had pocketed the first medal of the French clan with bronze in the 1,500 meters on Friday. The same metal as Agnès Raharolahy in the 800 meters and Just Kwaou-Mathey in the 60 meters hurdles.

Since his fantastic duel with the American legend Ashton Eaton during the decathlon of the Rio Olympics in 2016 and his world title in London the following year, Kevin Mayer has not been a quiet champion. With the exception of his world record in 2018, the French decathlete suffers and fights against his opponents – but especially against himself. Whether it’s in the face of the harshness of these Herculean “ten labours” or in the face of his body which never stops complaining about the intensive treatment he inflicts on it.

Read also: Tokyo 2021 Olympics: the “suffering of young Mayer” ends thanks to a silver medal

Nothing is given to him easily. The reminder of the course of his last major championships for five years is evocative, whether he fails or succeeds: three bitten attempts in the long jump at the European Championships in Berlin, a retirement because of a painful thigh during the 2019 Worlds in Doha, an Olympic decathlon completed “in silver” in Tokyo with a blocked back, and a world title won last summer in Eugene with again pain in the Achilles tendon.

a bad night

In Istanbul, Kevin Mayer rubbed shoulders with the heptathlon (a title he has already won twice in 2017 and 2021). A discipline that is a reduced model and adapted to the indoor decathlon: 60 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 meters hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meters. And his first day, Saturday, was not easy, despite the disqualification of his main rival, the Swiss Simon Ehammer, bronze medalist in the decathlon of the Eugene Worlds, who bit his three attempts at length.

Kevin Mayer worked in the 1,000 meters, the last event of the heptathlon.

After a high jump competition that he felt failed (1.98 meters), Mayer complained of having had a bad night: “My impulses were not pleasant. I almost did not pass 1.98 meters. I’m a little disgusted because yesterday I was in tremendous shape. I tore my hair out last night not sleeping. I’m far from what I hoped to do, but there’s still a title to get, so I’m doing the job. Hopefully a good night will make tomorrow a little better. »

After four events out of seven, “Kéké la braise” was only in second place with 3,474 points, ahead of 67 points by the Norwegian hope of the combined events, Sander Skotheim (3,541 points).

The threat of Sander Skotheim

Sunday, after, we hope, a better night’s sleep, Kevin Mayer took over the reins of the heptathlon, thanks to two of his strong points, but without managing to widen the gap on the fiery Nordic. He ran his 60 meters hurdles in 7 seconds and 76 hundredths before crossing a bar of 5.30 meters, failing at 5.40 meters. Achieving this height would have given him enough headroom before tackling the final race of the weekend. Instead, the French champion was “only” 101 points ahead before the 1,000 meters.

And the middle-distance distance is one of the specialties of the Norwegian. His record dates from this winter, with a time of 2 minutes 37 seconds and 82 hundredths. In his last heptathlon two years ago, Mayer ran the distance in 2 minutes 45 seconds and 72 hundredths (personal best in 2 minutes 41 seconds and 8 hundredths in 2017).

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Kevin Mayer: “Asking an athlete to boycott an event for which he has been preparing for years is very hard”

I didn’t prepare for the 1,000 meters, I didn’t do a single session, admitted the Frenchman. The situation in which I did not want to find myself, I find myself there. I’m 101 points ahead? OK that’s not bad, it’s been about 8 seconds. »

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Kevin Mayer had predicted the time he would have to achieve to win: Without preparation, I can go for 2 minutes 44 seconds. » That’s what he did, to within 20 hundredths (2 minutes 44 seconds and 20 hundredths), conceding only seven seconds to the Norwegian. Enough to keep 30 margin points.

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