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'I'll be more ready:' Canadian decathlete LePage aims to build on Hypo Meeting win

Pierce Lepage of Canada competes in the men's decathlon javelin throw at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. LePage feels there’s another step he could take with the world athletics championships approaching in August.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/David J. Phillip

Pierce LePage feels there’s another step he could take with the world athletics championships approaching in August.

The Whitby, Ont., native edged fellow Canadian and Olympic champion Damian Warner to claim decathlon gold on Sunday, his first at the Hypo Meeting event in Götzis, Austria. LePage had 8,700 points, one shy of his personal best that won him silver at the 2022 world championships.

“This meet for me, it's given me a lot of confidence," LePage told The Canadian Press. "I think a lot of the events, aside from like the 100 (metres) and javelin, were just OK or honestly, … I wouldn't even consider (them) good results, just kind of mediocre results.

"So I think that there's a lot of points left to be scored. I think when worlds comes, I'll be more ready, more fit, more tuned up and I think I'm going to put up some … big points.”

Maybe he left some points on the field, but LePage still exceeded his expectations.

"It felt good, I feel like this is the first time I've won something since 2019 that I wasn't really expecting it going in," the 27-year-old said. "I kind of went into the meet just kind of trying to take the atmosphere (in) and have fun and just go through each event and kind of see where I'm at, it's super early (in the season).

"So I didn't really have much expectations, my goal going into the meet was just to hit Olympic standard and see where that gets me."

Maybe the biggest highlight of his performance was his javelin throw of 63.09 metres, a personal best he didn't expect and that gave him some breathing room in the event to follow.

“I think after I threw that, I kind of knew the decathlon's in the bag unless something crazy happened in the 1,500," he said. "I was expecting to have to really fight in the 1,500 to secure the win.

"That javelin throw … it made me able to run the 1,500 slow which is like, that's never happened to me in my career, so it's nice.”

With good health on his side, LePage has used his 2022 season as motivation for this year. He competed through a torn patella at the Tokyo Olympics, where he finished fifth in 2021.

“I think the biggest thing about last year was dealing with some of my previous injuries and getting out of the season relatively healthy to an extent," he said. "And I think the past couple of years, we've shipped our goal to just staying healthy and being on top of that, because when I'm healthy, I know I can perform well."

“This meet, I came out of it totally healthy. I remember waking up on Day 2, and usually when I wake up on Day 2 and I do my morning jog, I'm like, 'Oh my God, like my knees are so bad, they feel so bad.'

"But I woke up on Sunday and I did my morning jog, I was like 'I don't think I felt this good waking up on Day 2 in like five years.' I'm more happy about being healthy than necessarily winning or the score.”

LePage, who trains out of the Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University, now looks forward to more opportunities to train outdoors and build on his winning performance.

“I think in general, just overall fitness," he said. "Coming to this meeting was really early, so general fitness wasn't there, you know, my legs weren't as ready, as in shape as usual.

"Canada has long winters, I think I've started training outside for like a month. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've done things outdoors, so just more training outdoors kind of tuning up and getting fitter, and I think for worlds I'll be ready."

The world track and field championships will be held Aug. 19-27 in Budapest, Hungary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.

Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press

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