Kevin Mayer hasn’t lost a multi-event competition since the Rio Olympics but the Frenchman is anything but complacent ahead of the 2018 season culminating with the European Athletics Championships in Berlin, co-hosts of the inaugural multi-sport European Championships with Glasgow.
Since the retirement of Ashton Eaton, Mayer has firmly ensconced himself as the world’s best multi-eventer on the men’s side but the 25-year-old - a self-described perfectionist - has still highlighted three events which require some fine tuning.
“This year it’s the long jump, pole vault and 1500m,” Mayer told L’Equipe in a recent interview.
“In the long jump, I still have technical work to do - the approach to the board in order to jump to my best ability. I must also rediscover my best level in the 1500m. In London, I was already assured of the world title [before the 1500m]; I would have liked a good time but I cracked. It was frustrating. I would have liked to have had the capacity to run well at this distance.”
Training for ten events is the proverbial juggling act but that is not to say Mayer has sacrificed any of his speed or power in his bid for that final flourish in the decathlon.
Mayer, who has been training in Doha and Miami during the off-season - as well as at home in Montpellier - has already set a 60m hurdles lifetime best of 7.83 in Val de Reuil at the weekend, 0.06 faster than his time at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade last March when he broke the European heptathlon record. There is still room for improvement as Mayer described it as "a bad race" despite the outcome.
“With the hurdles, I have the impression that I have again progressed and I can’t wait to see my time at the end of the race,” said Mayer before that competition in Val de Reuil. “I have gained more power thanks to my work in the gym this year and the seven strides to the first hurdle is getting more and more easy.”
Mauvaise course mais record! 7’82s
Le travail paie!!! Repos maintenant parce que le voyage a laissé des traces pic.twitter.com/CLIZ3K9wAW
— KevinMAYER Décathlon (@mayer_decathlon) January 27, 2018
Mayer will return to action at the Meeting de Paris Indoor on 7 February, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, where he will contest a triathlon (60m hurdles, long jump and shot put) ahead of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham from 1-4 March where the 25-year-old will be aiming for his second global senior title in the space of seven months.
But Birmingham is just a stepping stone on the road to the European Championships in Berlin - his main aim for the 2018 season. “My preparations are honestly not focused on Birmingham, but the European Championships in Berlin which are more important,” he said.
And what about the world decathlon record of 9045 points set by Eaton at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in 2015? Mayer is sixth on the world all-time decathlon lists with 8834 points and only Eaton is ahead of him indoors in the heptathlon.
“Clearly it’s on my mind,” he said. “I don’t know when it will happen - if it will happen - but I know that I have the potential to do it, it’s up to me to do it. But if I think about the points. I will think less about my events and that would not help much.”
More information on the 2018 European Championships:
- The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.
- It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.
- It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.
- Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.
- The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August.
- 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.
- Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.
- Over half a million spectators expected.