Canadian decathlete Pierce LePage maintains lead with 2 events to go at world championships

With just two events remaining in the decathlon, Canada’s Pierce LePage is still leading the field at the World Athletics Championships. 

The javelin and 1,500-metre events are set for Sunday night in Eugene. Ore., and will determine the world champion. 

LePage is in first with 7,337 points after eight events.

American Zach Ziemek is in second with 7,256 points. World record holder Kevin Mayer has shot up to third place after a strong pole vault effort. He now has 7,251 points.

After three consecutive personal-best performances in the 400 metres, 110m hurdles and discus, LePage was able to maintain his lead while clearing 5.00 metres in pole vault — an event he enjoys. 

“You train all day, every day, all the time. Pole vault is my favourite event. It’s pretty rewarding to jump in the air.”

Earlier Sunday, LePage was brimming with confidence. 

He fired the discus a whopping 53.26 metres to rocket to the top of the leaderboard. It’s a full two metres farther than his previous best throw in the event.

WATCH | LePage takes lead with discus throw:

LePage’s personal best discus throw has him 2nd in decathlon

Canadian Pierce LePage posted a 53.26m throw in the discus to put him in second place at the World Athletics Championships.

Just before that, LePage clocked a personal-best time of 13.78 seconds in the 110-metre hurdles, the fastest time of all competitors, to pull within 108 points of second. 

Despite the strong run, LePage admits hurdles are a challenge for him. 

“I hate hurdles with a passion,” the six-foot-seven decathlete said. 

“People say to me all the time I’m so tall and it would be so easy to get over them. I’m too tall. I’m stutter-stepping. It’s frustrating.”

WATCH | LePage posts top time in hurdles:

Pierce LePage posts top time in decathlon hurdles

The Canadian sits in second place after six of ten decathlon events at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

On Saturday night, LePage finished day one of competition with his best-ever performance in the 400-metre to go from fifth to second. 

LePage ran the 400m in a time of 46.84 to put himself within striking distance of gold going into the final day.

Olympic champ forced to withdraw

While the 26-year-old from Whitby, Ont., was speeding across the track on Saturday night, disaster struck for Olympic champion Damian Warner.

Shortly into the 400m, Warner grabbed his left hamstring, hobbled for a few steps and then fell to the Hayward Field track.

WATCH | Damian Warner suffers injury:

Warner out of men’s decathlon, LePage sits 2nd in Eugene

Olympic gold medallist Damian Warner pulled out of the men’s 400m heats due to an apparent injury on Saturday.

He laid on there for a number of minutes before being helped up. It was a gut-wrenching scene for the 32-year-old who was looking for his first worlds title. 

Warner’s competition is over.

“I’m not sure what happened. I felt my hamstring pull a couple of times. I was in lane one so it felt like it was pretty tight. I was trying to stay in my lane. I felt like something went wrong and I couldn’t continue,” he told CBC Sports.

WATCH | Damian Warner emotional after ‘disappointing’ end:

Warner emotional after ‘disappointing’ end to World Championships

CBC Sports’ Scott Russell catches up with Damian Warner after his heartbreaking finish in the men’s decathlon.

LePage has been Warner’s understudy for years, watching his every move at every meet and trying to keep up with the Olympic champion. 

“Damian is a great friend. A great competitor. Every meet I’ve gone to he’s been there. He’s the lead by example guy,” LePage said.

He recalls a story when they were in Tokyo preparing for the 400m. 

“He was having shots of balsamic vinegar. I was having mustard packets. We were looking at each other in disgust and bonding over that. Gotta keep that lactic acid down,” LePage said. 

“I ran a PB so there will be more mustard packets in my future. But I did take a balsamic shot with him. It might be the only time Damian takes shots.”

LePage, who finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, started the competition on Saturday by running the second-fastest 100m in a time of 10.39. He finished fifth as well at the last world championships in Doha three years ago.

WATCH l Warner, LePage 1-2 after 100m:

Canada’s Warner, LePage 1-2 after 100m in decathlon at worlds

Olympic champion Damian Warner leads the decathlon with a time of 10.27 in the 100m ahead of fellow Canadian Pierce LePage in 10.39 at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore.

LePage has been quiet about the fact that during the Olympics last summer he competed with a torn patella — he didn’t want it to be a distraction or a reason to not compete at his best. 

“I learned a lot of resilience. It was a pretty big tear,” he said. “I had a torn patella the entire meet. I don’t like having excuses. It was an experience I will never forget and I learned from it.”

LePage says he’s feeling great and is now fully recovered from the injury.

In the long jump event, LePage, who has a personal-best distance of 7.80m, posted a result of 7.54m. That was a season-best distance for LePage and gave him 945 points for a total of 1,946.

Despite struggling on his first two shot put attempts, LePage was able to find his form on his final throw.

His first two throws were 14.26m and 14.29m. But needing a strong finish, LePage was able to throw his last attempt 14.83m for 779 points. 

Season-best high jump

Then it was time for the high jump. 

LePage, who had dropped to fourth position after shot put, attempted his first jump at a height of 1.96m in the other group.

He failed to clear it to start but was able to soar easily over the bar on his second effort — that was a season-best jump by LePage. But he wasn’t done there.

LePage promptly cleared 1.99m on his first attempt, racking up valuable points in the standings. However, he was unable to clear 2.02m, having to settle for 794 points. That dropped LePage to fifth heading into the final event of day one. 

That’s when LePage was able to post a personal-best time of 46.84 in the 400m to close out day one and shoot him up the standings to second. 

Action from Day 2 of the event continues on Sunday evening. You can watch the finish of the decathlon on CBCSports.ca and CBC Gem.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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