Kaul scores a championship record of 8572 points to win the decathlon

Niklas Kaul
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Germany's Niklas Kaul produced a phenomenal second day to win the decathlon title at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships

Johannes Erm described his first day in the decathlon as perfect but the Estonian trudged away from the arena after a “pretty mediocre” pole vault which put Germany’s eventual winner Niklas Kaul very much back in the fray with two events remaining.

Erm’s advantage after the pole vault was still in excess of 200 points but he was dearly hoping to clear something higher than the 4.70m he managed today with the knowledge that Kaul is an excellent performer in both the javelin and 1500m.

“It was pretty mediocre,” assessed Erm on the final day of competition at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships. “It could have been better.”

Kaul finished day one with his best ever total of 4208 points and the reigning European U20 champion performed above expectations in the discus with a lifetime best of 47.35m and in the pole vault, equalling his outdoor lifetime best of 4.80m before a truly special performance in the javelin.

Erm kept his gold medal hopes intact by setting a two metre-plus lifetime best of 58.73m in the second round of the javelin but then they were all but dashed by a moment of sheer magnificence from the German. Kaul produced a scintillating effort in the second round which hit the turf at 77.36m - a championship best and a lifetime best of nearly five metres.

Erm gamely responded with his second lifetime best of his series with 59.60m but Kaul had closed the gap altogether and headed into the 1500m - another particularly strong event for the German - with a cushion of 17 points.  

Erm hadn’t given up on the gold medal and led Kaul for the first 300 metres but the German was to forge an inevitable path to the gold medal, opening up a gap of 80 metres on Erm in three laps. His time of 4:17.63 was the second fastest of his career to round off the greatest decathlon of his career thus far.

Kaul’s score of 8572 points broke Belarusian Andrei Krauchanka’s championship record of 8492 points which dates all the way back to Debrecen, Hungary in 2007. His score was also an outright European lead and will prove more than sufficient to make the German team for his first IAAF World Championships in Doha which begin in late September.

Kaul, who was fourth at the European Championships in Berlin last summer as a late replacement for the injured Kai Kazmirek, also moves to fourth on the European all-time U23 list behind Krauchanka (8617 points), Daley Thompson (8648 points) and Kaul’s compatriot Frank Busemann (8706 points). 

“The last three years, I've had an elbow injury so it's great to finally be able to throw well,” said Kaul. “In the 1500m, I could relax a bit but I'd looked at what the championship record was before the competition and I thought I could maybe break it, I'm so happy it all came together.” 

Contesting his third decathlon of the season after a long and gruelling US collegiate season which culminated with the NCAA title last month, Erm still came away with a lifetime best and Estonian U23 record of 8445 points thanks to three lifetime bests - and a championship best of 7.97m in the long jump - across the two days.

Kaul’s teammate Manuel Eitel, who set a championship best of 10.42 to open proceedings in the 100m, overcome a troublesome hamstring to come away with bronze and a total of 8067 points.

“I'm lucky that these days are over; one of my hamstrings wasn't feeling so well during the competition," said Eitel. "It's been the toughest decathlon I've ever done because of the problems I had with the hamstring.

Kaul provided one of six German gold medals on the final day of competition at the Gunder Hagg Stadium. As expected, their sprint teams won both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay finals in 39.22 and 43.45 respectively before Michael Sanders anchored the Germans to a less anticipated win in the 4x400m relay in 3:03.92, holding off Great Britain (3:04.59) and France (3:05.36) who had individual medallists Cameron Chalmers and Fabrisio Saidy on anchor.

Annika Fuchs extended her lifetime best to 63.68m to win the javelin title ahead of Turkey’s Eda Tugsuz with 61.03m and Frederick Ruppert won the 3000m steeplechase title in 8:44.49 with the hosts winning a bronze courtesy of Simon Sundstrom in 8:45.82.

The Germans just missed out on the title in the men's discus as Slovenia's Kristjan Ceh threw 62.78m and 63.82m in the fifth and sixth round ahead of initial leader Clemens Prufer who set the standard in the first round with 62.15m.

Full results here