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Damian Warner sets Canadian decathlon record with gold medal at Hypo Meeting


Damian Warner shattered his Canadian decathlon record in winning his fourth Hypo Meeting title on Sunday, helping erase the disappointment of a roller-coaster year.

The 28-year-old from London, Ont., scored 8,795 points to win the storied multi-event meet in Gotzis, Austria, topping his previous mark of 8,695 set at the 2015 world championships in Beijing. Warner's performance on Sunday was also the best score in the world this season.

"It means a lot," Warner told reporters after the 1,500, the decathlon's final event. "Coming into this decathlon was one of the harder preparations that I've had. I've been battling ankle problems and a couple of days ago I wasn't sure I was going to be able to start. I owe a lot of thanks to the people on my team."

Estonia's Maicel Uibo was second (8,514), while Pieter Braun of the Netherlands was third (8,342).

His record and victory comes less than two months after he dropped out of the decathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. Warner's bid to defend his Commonwealth title crumbled after he failed to clear a height in the pole vault at Carrara Stadium.

First after seven events in Australia, Warner plummeted to sixth and — his medal chances shot — pulled out of the competition.

"The disappointment was huge, but just like any athlete at this calibre, they put these things behind them and learn from it," said his coach Les Gramantik.

That heartbreak came after his disappointing fifth-place finish at last summer's world championships in London. The world silver and bronze medallist became ill with the Norovirus that swept through a meet hotel, and had to compete less than 24 hours after coming out of quarantine.

Warner won the 100 metres on Saturday with a time of 10.31 to open the Hypo Meeting — what's considered a virtual world championships for multi-events — then followed it up with a meet-best 7.81 metres in long jump. He threw 14.83 metres in shot put, cleared 2.03 metres in high jump, then capped his best Day 1 of his career by running 47.72 in the 400 metres.

"What I am most pleased with is the focus during the two days, the calmness in his approach to each event regardless of whether the first try was good or not so good and the ability to stay even during the two days of competition," said Gramantik. "In combined events, we often get criticized if the score is not good. But decathlon and heptathlon is like golf . . . there are ten holes, and the score accumulates and that's the way you win."

Warner, who left London, Ont., last year to move to Calgary to train with Gramantik, won the 110 hurdles in 13.56 to open Day 1, then threw 47.32 metres in discus, had no trouble with pole vault in clearing 4.80 metres, then threw 61.94 metres in javelin. Warner needed to run just four minutes 42 seconds in the 1,500 to break his Canadian record, and left nothing to chance running 4:26.59.

Warner's Canadian record at the Beijing world championships came a month after he won gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto, breaking Michael Smith's Canadian decathlon record that had stood for 19 years.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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