When there’s sunny weather in Götzis on Friday before the meeting, fans have the opportunity to see Decathletes and Heptathletes doing a last warm up before the competition in the weekend. You enter the stadium for free but be very careful not to stand in the way when they try to jump run or throw! I myself want to talk with coaches and athletes. One of the first I see is Gar, Damian Warners coach. We are both in disguise because we both carry our sunglasses. I’m still easy to be recognized from a 1000 meters distance because I went for three days walking in the mountains, in the snow, I’m sun burned and my head is like a tomato. Gar shine’s like a star. Who wouldn’t with an athlete to train like Damian?
Because I secretly expect (and hope) Damian to do 8800 or even 8900, I ask Gar about Damians training and for example the wind assisted 10.09 he did. Too much wind he answers but …it was very cold! I don’t expect him to put all his cards on the table or to do bolt predictions. Gar is very pleased with the fact that Damian is injury free until now. They concentrated on this summer and did almost no winter competitions.
Vickie, his running coach helped him to improve in the 400. Note that Damian Warner is the (all time) second best runner in the world for the decathlon and heptathlon distances. Let me explain: there are no sprint or hurdles or whatever sort of specialists in the whole world that can do better (meaning gathering as much points as Ashton Eaton and Damian Warner) for the combination of the four decathlon distances. This year he had also a personal best in the long jump (8.04), Dennis pushed him to a shot put and a discus personal record (more than 50 meters). When I ask other athletes, they all say with a smile that they expect Damian to shine here.
For the rest, Rico Freimuth recovered from injury, Hans van Alphen injured himself and can’t take a risk before the Games, so he hopes for a later competition. Are not here: Suarez, Vos and Brugger. Ashley Bryant recoverd, John Lane – two operations at his left knee last year in January and August but recovered and ready to go for it. Janek Õiglane looking very sharp and hoping to get the minima for Rio. Eelco Sintnicolaas is not here an recovering from wrist surgery. JFK or Jan Felix Knobel back on track. Changed from trainer and his way of thinking he says and will try with a new approach hoping for Rio.
Chris Vlamynck for Decathlon 2000