Athletics: in Rome, Kévin Mayer's “last chance” decathlon to go to the Olympic Games

Athletics: in Rome, Kévin Mayer's "last chance" decathlon to go to the Olympic Games

Kevin Mayer must complete a decathlon before June 30. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

The Montpellier begins the tests this Monday, June 10, at 10 a.m.

Time is running out for Kevin Mayer: with three weeks to go before the deadline, the double world champion and double Olympic silver medalist in the decathlon makes it to the World Championships. European Athletics, Monday and Tuesday in Rome, its "last chance"to validate your ticket for the Paris Olympics.

As he has not completed ten events in a decathlon since July 2022 in Eugene (United States), when he won his second world title, Mayer does not yet have his bib for the Stade de France in his pocket at the end of July. To be pinned, he must complete a decathlon before June 30, the end of the Olympic qualification period open since the end of 2022, ideally by achieving the Olympic minimums set at 8,460 points.

"In my head, this is (the) last chance", summarizes Mayer. "I no longer want to be in the mood to tell myself "There are still decathlons after", to struggle, to travel again… I am not a pro at “qualifying", I have always struggled to qualify, recalls the decathlon world record holder (9 126 points in 2018). But it’s a box I have to go through." "We would like it to be simpler, but for storytelling, it’s not bad", he smiles.

"Like a monk"

First there was his retirement after two events at the World Championships in Budapest in August 2023, the fault of a painful Achilles tendon. Then several planned plans fell through one after the other. In Brisbane in mid-December, after an internship in the middle of the southern summer, the 32-year-old decathlete gave up trying.

At the end of March in San Diego, California, he called it quits during the fourth event, the high jump. Mayer then became very discreet about his intentions, until the Roman surprise, thanks to an invitation from the European Athletics Federation. "I admit that I live a bit like a monk at home at the moment because as soon as I go out, people yell at me "You qualify when&nbsp ;?" tells the Montpellier resident.

"It’s sure that the European Championships cast a lot of shadow over all the other decathlons (which he was considering to qualify): a decathlon with the jersey of the French team, in "Europe", in this atmosphere that I love so much, it’s more pleasant than a normal decathlon to go and get some minimum ", explains the double world champion (2017 and 2022). What shape does he feel in?? "I don't really know what I have in my legs but I know that I feel good inside. rsquo;training", replies Mayer.

"Very fit, not Olympic shape"

"I also know that I am preparing thoroughly for the Olympics: nervously, I cannot be in two places at the same time. I know I'm not in Olympic shape but I know I'm very fit and I feel good mentally", he continues.

Once is not usual for him, often delicate with his body, very attentive to his sensations, "I have nothing today that could prevent me from doing a test", considers Mayer, "quite serene&quot ;. The challenge of these 48 Roman hours? Finding the right balance between qualifying and preserving yourself. Not in his nature.

Athletics: in Rome, Kévin Mayer's "last chance" decathlon to go to the Olympic Games

"The goal will be to slow myself down throughout this decathlon, describes the double Olympic silver medalist (2016 and 2012). Because I am capable of doing one decathlon at 200% in the year, but not two." "This are European Championships, I only want one thing, it’s to explode the track, he admits. But every five seconds, I repeat to myself minimum, minimum, minimum. Even if I have never been European champion, that is not the goal this year."

And if it goes wrong ? "If I do zero in the high jump, I start another decathlon, I don’ don't give up on the Games like that!, reassures Mayer. But the present moment is that I'm doing the European Championships and that I have an (Olympic) qualification to seek."

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