Eugene, and — Canada’s Piers Lepage has flirted with the world decathlon podium numerous times, but a bad event or two will always see him drop the results.
Not this time, not this time.
In an event that requires consistency over two grueling days, the 26-year-old from Whitby, Ont., produced back-to-back impressive performances to take silver in the decathlon at the world track and field championships on Sunday. medal, Canada’s fourth and final team medal of the meet.
“The biggest thing for me is that I’ve been so close the last few years,” LePage said. “I’ve always been high in the standings and then dropped near the end, and it was very disappointing. To finally be on top – to be on the podium is amazing.”
The six-foot-eight Lepage, who competed in the shadow of longtime Canadian Olympic champion Damian Warner, scored a personal-best 8,701 points. Warner’s quest for his first decathlon world title, meanwhile, ended in heartbreak last night when he suffered a hamstring injury during the 400m.
World record holder Kevin Mayer of France won gold with 8,816 points, while American Zach Zemek (8,676) took bronze.
LePage, who was fifth at both the Tokyo Olympics and the 2019 world championships, led for most of Day 2 after personal bests in the 400m, 110m hurdles and discus, and a personal best of 5.00m in the pole vault. Stayed, but they fell back one place. After the javelin, the mare, the final event of the decathlon.
The 1,500 meters became a fierce battle for silver between Lepage and Zemeck.
“I had to figure out if I wanted to try to beat Kevin (to the gold), or play it safe and go for the medal,” LePage said.
After recovering from an injury for a good part of the season, and the fact that he would have to beat Mayer by a significant margin for the gold, LePage decided to stick with Zemeck and overtake the American for silver.
“I’m not going to lie, I was the most nervous about the 1,500 because I didn’t do much fitness training for it,” LePage said. “I’ve had five or six workouts all year for the 1,500. And I’m like, I just stick with this guy (Zemek), and then bring him in.
World silver and bronze medalist Warner led the field in the first four races of the first day before clutching his left hamstring with about 120 meters to go in the 400.
“Since I’ve had big international meets, it’s always been Damian and I. . . . Obviously I feel for him,” LePage said. “I had no idea at the time, I was still running. But even though a mate goes out, I’ve still got to work. And hopefully I’ve made him happy.”
LePage said he had not seen Warner since the injury.
“Hopefully he’s doing well,” he said.
LePage opened the second day by crushing his personal best hurdles of 14.05 seconds in a run of 13.78.
“It was not expected,” he said. “Then, throw first, huge discus PB, just go, you know, it had some good blow.”
Canada’s other medal winners were the men’s 4×100m relay team, which won gold, Camryn Rogers, who won silver in the women’s hammer throw, and Marco Arup, who won bronze in the men’s 800m. Won the medal. Canada had 14 top eight results.
Canada’s women’s 4×400-meter relay team of Natasha MacDonald, Ayana Stiverne, Zoe Sherar and Kyra Constantine finished fourth, the same result as last summer’s Olympics.
The Americans, anchored by Sydney McLaughlin, who had earlier broken her own 400 hurdles world record at the meet, won gold.
And earlier on Sunday, Moh Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., was fifth in the men’s 5,000 meters, the event in which he won silver at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 31-year-old was in contention for a medal with about 150 meters to cover.
“I was just trying to stay connected to (the leaders) and with 100 meters to go, I was like: OK, come on, try and hit it, hit it, hit it. And I think I did. Started overstriding a bit, and was just leaning in the last 50.
“So, unfortunately, but — I threw myself into it, I was as close as I needed to be to within striking distance, and I ran out of gas.”
And Olympic bronze medalist Evan Dunfee of Richmond, BC, was sixth in the men’s 35km race walk, a solid result after battling both a hamstring injury and mental health issues this season.
“Coming back with a sixth place after the year, it’s been a struggle for me this year, it’s been a little tough physically and emotionally and mentally,” Dunphy said. “So to get sixth, I’m really happy with that, and to have my family and friends out here cheering me on, it was great.”
The 31-year-old, who sat in 12th place for most of the race before pulling ahead in the final few kilometres, crossed in two hours 25 minutes two seconds.
Italy’s Massimo Steno won gold in 2:23.14.
Dunphy won bronze at both last summer’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2019 world championships in Doha.
“I’m used to the podium,” Dunphy said with a laugh. “It’s always disappointing not to be there. Not disappointing, disappointing is the wrong word. But, that’s what I told myself – and I’m really proud of the race – but you’re still like that. Ah, it’s fun to stand on that podium.
“But no, I think today was a really good race.”