Kevin Mayer: World records, Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024, and decathlon

The Olympic silver medallist and world record holder in decathlon from France is hoping to go one better at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021 and take the gold.

By Ed Knowles & Guillaume Depasse
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

Kevin Mayer went into the 2019 World Athletics Championships as one of the favourites in one of the most gruelling events in track and field athletics: decathlon.

After breaking the world record in 2018, the Frenchman was looking like a top medal contender for the Olympics.

But disaster struck in Doha and the defending champion had to pull out during the pole vault due to injury.

“We leave our bodies in debt every time we do a decathlon," said Mayer to the Olympic Channel and the Tokyo 2020 website.

"As the years go by and performance improves, the debt gets bigger.”

"I don’t feel sorry for my failures" - Kevin Mayer on world championships performance in 2019

"I don't feel sorry for my failures. On the contrary, Doha taught me a lot about myself.”

Kevin Mayer of France had to pull out of the decathlon at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha 
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Kevin Mayer: Olympic Qualification

Mayer has since recovered and has already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games which take place in 2021.

In December 2020, he scored a world-leading 8552 points to win the Meeting de la Reunion.

The days before Reunion were stressful.

“We rest a lot and I have to lie down for about 6 hours a day to [get ready].

“These are not good times because you have the pressure that goes up and you feel an energy that you cannot release.

“These are times that I love and fear at the same time. I really like watching series or reading books to get away from it all.”

Kevin Mayer first attracted world attention with a junior world championships win in decathlon in 2010
Picture by 2010 Getty Images

Kevin Mayer: World Record ambitions

The performance reignited interest in a possible world record attempt in 2021.

After Ashton Eaton of the USA broke his own world record in 2015 at the world championships, Mayer’s score of 9,126 from 2018 has been the mark to beat.

“It takes so long to recover from a decathlon that I just don't like going for the [bare] minimum.

 “Today, I have so much motivation because I can touch Tokyo with my fingertips.”

Kevin Mayer: Tokyo 2020 and beyond

Mayer is an aficionado of all things Japanese. Tokyo 2020 is particularly exciting for him in this respect.

“It's clear. I love Japan… It ranges from manga and samurai culture to the respect they have for each other.”

The next summer Olympic Games after Tokyo will be in Paris.

Paris 2024 will also have a great flavour! It will be at home. Tokyo will be fabulous but the biggest meeting of my life will be in Paris.

“I made the world record in France but I have never done a championship in France. And when I remember [London 2012], when an Englishman was in the running, it was electric.

“The stadium was on fire and I would love to feel those emotions. It could give me wings to go high, far, and fast.”

Kevin Mayer: Inspiring youngsters

The Frenchman is one of the most popular athletes in his country and he takes his role model status seriously.

“It’s something that transcends me. It's not for my pride, but I admired people so much when I was young that I really like being able to inspire people

“I am committed to helping as many people as possible to make their dreams come true.”

Kevin Mayer spoke as part of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Week (1-6 February 2021). He met with students from his old high school in Montpellier to promote the benefits of physical activity for health.