Kevin Mayer needed to draw upon every last reserve to claim the heptathlon title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
Mayer held the overnight lead and he began his day on a positive note with 7.83 in the 60m hurdles - 0.05 faster than his corresponding time at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade last year when he set the European record of 6479 points.
But Mayer fell off that schedule - and his lead was cut back markedly - after the surprisingly substandard pole vault. The Frenchman added 20 centimetres to his lifetime best with 5.60m last month but the reigning world decathlon champion could only clear his opening height of 5.00m before three failures at 5.20m.
Heading into the 1000m, Mayer still had a cushion of 3.13 seconds on Canada’s Damian Warner but the leader was feeling the effects of a busy indoor season, and a gruelling six events.
"I have pain everywhere, left knee, right knee. Maybe I did too much this winter. Maybe I should stop here. The important thing is summer," he told L’Equipe after the pole vault.
Mayer took his place on the start-line and doggedly kept Warner in his sights. Even though his legs were beginning to wobble in the home straight, Mayer threw himself across the finish-line, ensuring his third major senior title in the process. Warner clocked 2:37.12 to Mayer’s 2:39.64 - a lifetime best but not quite enough to overturn the gap.
Mayer scored a world-leading tally of 6348 points, finishing just five points ahead of Warner. It was the closest ever heptathlon in World Indoor Championships history.
It has been a brilliant championships for Bertrand Valcin’s stable of athletes in the multi-events. Mayer followed in the footsteps of training partner Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who was crowned world pentathlon champion on Friday evening. “She trains with me; she’s like a little sister, so I had to win,” he said.
The world indoor heptathlon champion and the world indoor pentathlon champion. pic.twitter.com/KmxvEBuofA
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) March 3, 2018
Maicel Uibo excelled in the jumps - 2.17m in the high jump and 5.30m in the pole vault - and the Estonian overhauled Germany’s Kai Kazmirek for the bronze medal with a strong run in the 1000m. Uibo scored a lifetime best of 6265 points with Kazmirek fourth, also with a lifetime best of 6238 points.
Kszczot adds to his title haul with 800m gold
Reigning European indoor and outdoor champion Adam Kszczot drew on his vast experience to claim his first global title in the 800m.
Kszczot made a decisive move just before the bell and put a comfortable gap between himself and his pursuers courtesy of a last lap timed at 25.08.
"It may look easy from the outside but it was a very difficult race, especially mentally,” said Kszczot. “I knew that the Spaniards would watch me but I was ready for this. I knew how to deal with it.”
Drew Windle was initially disqualified for obstruction but a protest was placed and the American was reinstated back into silver medal position in 1:47.99, pipping Spain’s Saul Ordonez on the line in 1:48.01.
Maslak secures a hat-trick of 400m titles
After winning an unprecedented hat-trick of European indoor titles in Belgrade last March, Pavel Maslak created more history on the boards by winning his third world indoor 400m title in Birmingham after the initial gold and silver medallists were both disqualified.
Spain’s Oscar Husillos crossed the finish-line in 44.92, a time which would have broken Nery Brenes’ championship record of 45.11 - and more notably Thomas Schonlebe’s 30-year-old European record of 45.05 - but he was disqualified for a lane infringement. The Spanish contingent did appeal the decision but to no avail.
With Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos also disqualified, Maslak was duly bumped up two places, taking the title with a season’s best of 45.47. "The main target for me is the European Championships in Berlin but I also have a relay final tomorrow and I want to help my team," he said.
Stefanidi defeated for the first time in a year
Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi was aiming to complete the set of major titles with victory in the pole vault in Birmingham but the reigning European indoor and outdoor champion had to settle for bronze which she secured with a third-time clearance at 4.80m.
Sandi Morris from the United States defended her title with a second-time clearance at 4.90m before tying her world lead with a third-time clearance at 4.95m. Competing as an Authorised Neutral Athlete, former European indoor and outdoor champion Anzhelika Sidorova solidified her championships performer reputation, clearing an outright lifetime best of 4.90m.
Nelson Evora turns 34 next month but that didn’t stop the Portuguese triple jumper from securing yet another global medal with an indoor lifetime best of 17.40m for bronze. The Olympic champion from a decade ago held the lead at the halfway point but Evora was shunted down the reckoning by Will Claye’s fourth round jump of 17.43m before Brazil’s Almir Dos Santos challenged with 17.41m in the fifth round.
The positions from the 3000m final were reversed in the 1500m final with Great Britain’s Laura Muir pipping Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands for silver - 4:06.23 to 4:07.26 - as Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba completed the double in 4:05.27.
There was more Dutch success to cheer for in the 60m hurdles final. Heptathlete Nadine Visser broke the 29-year-old national record with 7.83 in the semifinal and she almost matched that time in the final, taking bronze in 7.74 behind Americans Kendra Harrison (7.70) and Christina Manning (7.79).
And there was another British medal on the track with Eilidh Doyle taking bronze in the 400m in 51.60 behind Americans Courtney Okolo (50.55) and Shakima Wimbley (51.47).