In uncharted territory, Mayer says he's 'Columbus of decathlon'
Fresh from setting a decathlon world record, Kevin Mayer told AFP on Tuesday that he was living "the best moment of his life" and that he had "the impression that this was the beginning."
Frenchman Mayer completed the Decastar competition on Saturday and Sunday in Talence, a suburb of Bordeaux, with 9,126 points, breaking the record set by American Ashton Eaton in 2015 by 81 points.
"I feel like I'm a bit of a decathlon Christopher Columbus," he said. "Now, everything I'm going to discover has never been discovered by anyone else."
His voice still slightly hoarse two days after his record-setting performance, Mayer was calm and reflective as he discussed his achievement during a visit to AFP in Paris.
"I had a lot of fun during the events, but as soon as I got back (to the changing room) there was this whole world record issue, all the pressure I had on my shoulders came crashing down on me. It was very hard to handle,' he said.
"During the javelin on Sunday I experienced the best moments of my life," he said. "Incredibly strong emotions, sometimes negative, sometimes superpositive. It was this roller coaster of emotions, this explosion of emotions, that gave this event an importance beyond the number of points, I scored."
Mayer is a master at controlling his body (1.86 m, 82 kg) and his emotions.
"It isn't possible to stay focused for two days, it tires you too much," he said. "The goal of a decathlete is to try to break your concentration between the events, which aren't at all technically similar."
He said he tries to "lower his heart rate so that the body recovers a little". For example, he held his breath before the discus throw this weekend. He knows how to re-focus, sometimes with the help of a small ball that he bounces on the track.
Mayer, the 2017 World Champion, was on course for a world record in the European championships in Berlin in August until he blew the long jump.
"It was a frustration, it was a failure for me," he said. "If I had not no-jumped, I could very well have broken the world record."
"It left me one more month to train," he said. "I am not someone motivated by revenge and I did not have a knot in my heart telling me that I wanted to prove something to someone."
Now that he has the record, will he work as hard?
"It's up to me now to find things that will help me progress and achieve even greater heights."
One motivation for Mayer, silver medallist in Rio, is the Olympics in Japan in 2020.
"I've been thinking of an Olympic title for years," he said. "I think that I will be the overwhelming favourite in the Tokyo Olympics. It would be a huge disappointment to fail."
"I'd give everything to be Olympic champion that's for sure, it's a kid's dream."
After Tokyo, the next Games are in Paris in 2024 and six years are a long time in such a demanding sport. But the 26-year-old is not intimidated.
He refuses to set a ceiling on his potential performances or a time-limit on his career and talked about the Olympics after Paris, in Los Angeles .
"We do not know how far I can go, that's what's huge. I do not feel like I've reached the pinnacle of my career or anything, I feel like I am at the beginning and slowly building."
© 2018 AFP