Athletics: Kevin Mayer in gold, the only French medal at the Worlds

Two years from the Paris Games and a year after the Olympic silver, Kevin Mayer returned to world gold in the decathlon on Sunday July 24, already won in 2017, in Eugene (Oregon). He thus saves the French team from an embarrassing zero point, which it has not experienced on the international scene since the 2000 Games, when the Olympic high mass is looming on its land.

At 30 – he celebrated them in February – Mayer joins the ultra-select club of French athletes who are double world champions individually, alongside the legend Marie-José Pérec, crowned in the 400m in 1991 and 1995, and by Eunice Barber, who won the heptathlon in 1999 and the long jump in 2003.

A complicated preparation

“Unexpected” after “a very complicated year”summarizes Mayer, bothered for many months by his Achilles tendons – which had made him give up the Indoor Worlds in Belgrade at the beginning of March – and who only resumed the race two months ago. “I’ve always admired Teddy Riner, Zinédine Zidane, Martin Fourcade… I don’t put myself on an equal footing with them at all, but I would like to be a legend one day, and that’s how it goes! », he dreams.

as a symbol, One More Time Daft Punk resounded in the mythical Hayward Field when the double Olympic silver medalist (2016 and 2021) filled the last hundred meters of the 1,500m which separated him from a second world title, five years after the first, won at London in 2017.

As a symbol too, he experienced a similar scenario to the previous London pole vaulter, when he risked zero before crossing 5m on his third and last attempt. Five years ago, he had the same fright at 5.10 m. Halfway through, weighed down by his poor shot put, with a best throw of 14.98 m, very far from his record (17.08 m), Kevin Mayer fell asleep in provisional sixth position for his first decathlon since the Tokyo Games a year ago.

Back to the second day

Under a hot sun on Sunday, he built his rise in the pole vault (5.40 m) and javelin (over 70 m) rankings in particular. “Each event was a huge pressure simply because I only have two months of preparation, says Kevin Mayer. But each time I started, the confidence came back, I did what I knew how to do. It is an enormous pride to succeed in these conditions. » At the end of his ten works, he won with a total of 8,816 points ahead of the Canadian Pierce Lepage (8,701 pts) and the American Zachery Ziemek (8,676 pts).

An achievement he welcomed with teary eyes and quivering lips when The Marseillaise was performed in his honor. Kevin Mayer also kept the memory of several painful and/or unfortunate decathlons, the zero in the length at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, the Tokyo Games crossed with his back blocked last summer, or even his abandonment at the 2019 Worlds in Doha, tendon (the left then) already recalcitrant.

This return to the highest step of the world podium comes as Mayer decided to take control of his training by separating in the spring from his physical trainer Jérôme Simian.

Paris 2024 in sight

On a daily basis, the Montpellier resident is only accompanied by Alexandre Bonacorsi, his childhood friend, originally responsible for compiling his performance data (sessions, series, intensity of effort, etc.) but who “has gained experience for two years”.

“I like this way of working. I loved it during confinement, when I was able to have access to the stadium: that’s where I brought out the best of myself, where I had my best sessions.” traced the athlete to AFP in mid-June.

Alone at the pace of“one session out of three in each discipline, I will look much further into my entrenchments to find solutions, to progress further, and I like that, he explained. When I’m with Alexandre, if things aren’t going well, I rely on him to find solutions and I don’t like that. Alone, it’s really in you against yourself mode. » Does he already have the 2024 Olympics in mind? “I already see myself at the start of the 100m with a full stadiumanswered Kevin Mayer. That alone gives me chills. »


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