Athletics

Virus lockdown triggers decathlon WR holder's split from coach

accreditation
Kevin Mayer of France
Kevin Mayer of France
Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

World decathlon record holder Kevin Mayer has split with his long-time coach Bertrand Valcin, a little more than a year away from the Tokyo Olympics which were postponed a year to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Valcin had coached the 28-year-old Mayer for 12 years out of his Montpellier training camp in southern France which also includes Britain's world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson. The Briton is currently in Montpellier and has no plans to change coaches, according to Valcin.

With Valcin as his coach, Mayer bagged Olympic silver at the 2016 Rio Games, the world title a year later in London and the world record of 9,126 points in September 2018.

But Mayer said the lockdown in France because of the Covid-19 outbreak had been a determining factor in his decision to split.

"It's something I have thought a lot about," Mayer said in a conference call. "It is an initiative I am taking, it is not because Bertrand is of no use to me."

Mayer, who will remain based in Montpellier, added: "I feel we know each other too well to contribute a lot now.

"Lockdown was a trigger, I trained more on my own, something that suited me because I was more enterprising, more in touch with myself. I asked less of others, suddenly I asked more of myself, it created unexpected sessions performance-wise."

The Frenchman, who was forced to withdraw from last year's world champs in Doha through injury, insisted however that he would not be coaching himself.

Instead he will now look to specialists in each of the event's 10 disciplines to help him hunt down Olympic gold in Tokyo next year, adding that retired 2010 European decathlon champion Romain Barras and physical trainer Jerome Simian would be on hand in competition.

"If it doesn't work out, it's only me to blame," said Mayer when asked whether it was wise to change coaches so close to an Olympics.

"I know where I want to go. If I rest on my laurels I would like my sport less, so I continue to go for it."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
40% - 14893 votes
Cricket
12% - 4591 votes
Football
19% - 6967 votes
Athletics
3% - 967 votes
Boxing
1% - 366 votes
Cycling
2% - 881 votes
Golf
5% - 1878 votes
Motorsport
9% - 3208 votes
Tennis
4% - 1330 votes
Water sports
1% - 341 votes
American sports
1% - 460 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 1249 votes
Vote