Canada's Damian Warner out of world championships after suffering hamstring injury

·6 min read
Canada's Damian Warner reacts after dropping out of the men's decathlon 400m event during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images - image credit)
Canada's Damian Warner reacts after dropping out of the men's decathlon 400m event during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images - image credit)

Canada's Olympic champion decathlete Damian Warner is out of the World Athletics Championships after suffering a hamstring injury during the final event of day one competition.

Shortly into the 400-metre race, Warner grabbed his left hamstring and fell to the Hayward Field track.

He laid on the track for a number of minutes before being helped up.

Warner's competition is over.

"I'm not sure what happened. I felt my hamstring pull a couple of times. I was in Lane 1 so it felt like it was pretty tight. I was trying to stay in my lane. I felt like something went wrong and I couldn't continue," he told CBC Sports.

"It's pretty disappointing. This competition has been the screensaver on my computer the last couple of years. I had a chance to compete in front of my son and my girlfriend. It's tough."

Warner was in the lead after four events going into the 400m.

He fought back tears as he talked about the injury.

"So many helped me get to this point. I feel like I let them down in a way. Very tough pill to swallow at this point and I just have to do whatever I can to come back stronger," Warner said.

"I'm just going to go back and hope this heals and do what every other athlete does and get stronger. And hopefully get myself back on top of the world once again."

Warner says he thinks it's a hamstring injury.

"I've worked really hard, me and my coaches, over the last while to be great at the 400. I thought I was capable of doing something. It's always tough when something like this happens," Warner said.

"The day didn't start amazingly but I was able to win the 100 metre and win the long jump. Season's best in the shot put and high jump. Things were going quite well. I just wish the rest of the guys good luck tomorrow."

The reigning Olympic champion was looking to win his first world title and started his pursuit of his first world decathlon title by posting the fastest time in the 100m — exactly how he started in Tokyo one year ago.

Fellow Canadian Pierce LePage ran a personal best 400m in a time of 46.84 to put himself in second spot going into the final five events.

WATCH | Damian Warner on top after shot put:

On a chilly Saturday morning in Eugene, Ore., overcast and 16 C, the 32-year-old from London, Ont. powered his way to a time of 10.27 seconds. That put the Canadian on top with 1,030 points.

Warner is the oldest competitor in the world athletics championship field — that was also the case when he made history at the Olympics last summer.

LePage, who finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, ran the second-fastest 100m in a time of 10.39. The 26-year-old from Whitby, Ont., also finished fifth at the last world championships in Doha.

WATCH | Damian Warner, Pierce LePage finish 1-2 in 100m:

Warner made history last summer in Tokyo, becoming just the fourth person in history to post a score of more than 9,000 points when he set an Olympic record to claim gold. In March, he followed that up with a world indoor heptathlon gold medal.

Warner, however, has never won a world championship decathlon gold, finishing third twice and second once. The motivation for Warner now is not only winning gold in Eugene, but breaking Kevin Mayer's world-record score of 9,126 in the process.

WATCH | What motivates Damian Warner?

Mayer, from France, earned 947 to begin by running the 100m in a time of 10.62.

About 15 minutes after competing in the 100m, Warner and LePage were back in action in the long jump event.

Warner posts top long jump

Warner is ranked No. 1 in the world in the event, and in his first attempt, he jumped 7.55 metres. That was well below his season-best performance of 8.05m.

He improved in his second attempt, clearing 7.87m and padding his lead at the top. That was the best jump of all competitors and earned Warner 1,027 points — his combined total through two events was 2,057. For comparison, his combined total through two events in Tokyo was 2,189.

LePage, who has a personal best distance of 7.80m, posted a result of 7.54m in Eugene. That was a season-best distance for LePage and gave him 945 points for a total of 1,946 through two events.

WATCH | Damian Warner finishes 1st in long jump:

Warner records season-best shot put throw

From there the competitors moved over to the shot put ring for the third event of the decathlon.

The sun finally started breaking through the clouds in the early afternoon, heating things up inside Hayward Field.

Warner fired a season-best throw on his second shot put attempt.

The mark of 14.99m was enough for 789 points for Warner – his best throw in Tokyo traveled 14.80m.

Despite struggling on his first two attempts, LePage was able to find his form on his final shot put throw.

His first two throws were 14.26m and 14.29m. But needing a strong finish, LePage was able to throw his last attempt 14.83m for 779 points.

Warner soars to season-best in high jump

The high jump competition began Saturday afternoon after about a three-hour break.

Warner, with a 90-point lead over American Zach Ziemek, had a lengthy wait before his first attempt, but when it was finally his turn he smoothly cleared 1.93m.

The bar was then moved to 1.96m. Warner just missed his first attempt and regained form to clear it on his second attempt.

That was the same story at 1.99m for Warner — he made an adjustment after a first miss and then got over the bar successfully on his second try.

Warner kept the pressure on his competitors by flying over 2.02m on his first attempt.

The Olympic champion just kept going, clearing a season-best height of 2.05m on his second attempt. He pumped his fists emphatically after clearing the bar.

That's as high as Warner would get, however. He was not able to clear 2.08m.

LePage, who had dropped to fourth position after the shot put, attempted his first jump at a height of 1.96m in the other group.

He failed to clear it to start but was able to soar easily over the bar on his second effort with a season-best jump.

But he wasn't done there.

LePage promptly cleared 1.99m on his first attempt, racking up valuable points in the standings.

However, he was unable to clear 2.02m, having to settle for 794 points.

You can watch all the action from the decathlon on and on CBC Gem. Day one of competition ends with the 400m at 9:55 p.m. ET.

Action from Day 2 of the event begins on Sunday at 12:35 p.m. ET with the 110m hurdles.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Mike Segar/Reuters
Mike Segar/Reuters
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