Virus lockdown triggers decathlon WR holder's split from coach

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."

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