Kevin Mayer’s philosophy was to have “fun and enjoy every single discipline” in dealing with the pressure of being an overwhelming favourite – and that is just what he is doing as he heads into the second day of the heptathlon in the lead at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
The Frenchman won his first major senior title with gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade a year ago before being crowned world decathlon champion in London a few months later.
Competing on British soil again, Mayer is gunning for his third major title in the space of a year and to maintain his command over the multi-events. At the age of 26, he is at the peak of his powers and after four events, he leads overnight by 45 points from Canada’s Damian Warner.
The challenge was set down to him from the opening event as Warner won the first heat of the 60m in a personal best of 6.74. Mayer’s quickest time as he took his place in his blocks was 6.95 but that was replaced in a blink of an eye, winning in 6.85.
One discipline gone and Mayer was second with 936 points behind Warner with 977 points.
Next up was the long jump - and with it came personal best number two for Mayer - as he improved upon his old mark of 7.54m by just a centimetre with the last of his three efforts.
He had reached 7.43m and 7.36m before the 7.55m brought him 947 points as he finished second behind Germany’s Kai Kazmirek, who took his lifetime best from 7.64m to 7.68m in the second round.
Mayer was edging towards the lead - now just a mere two points behind Warner who remained in front with 1885 after a long jump of 7.39m - with Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov in third with 1818.
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While Mayer did not make it three out of three personal bests, he was elated with his third-round effort of 15.67m to move into the overall lead. Warner was third with 14.90m and now the Frenchman led with 2714 from his Canadian rival with 2669 and Kazmirek with 2572.
At that stage, Mayer was ahead of European record schedule. He was on 2675 points after three events and even though he dropped away slightly from the record target after the high jump, he rubber stamped his position at the top. Mayer cleared 2.10m in Belgrade but this time he had to settle for fourth with 2.02m as Kazmirek topped the group with 2.05m.
But it was in the other group where the real star of the event emerged as Estonian Maicel Uibo produced a superb personal best of 2.17m, clearing it on his second go before failing at 2.20m, to put himself in medal contention.
Mayer leads with 3536 points – he was at 3571 after the first day in Belgrade – from Warner with 3491 and Uibo with 3436.