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Athletics: hampered in the adductors and forced to abandon, Kevin Mayer still not qualified for Paris 2024

It was therefore above a parking lot, where the University of San Diego stadium is located, that Kevin Mayer once again put the brakes on his Olympic goal, in the indifference of a small university meeting sunny.

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Athletics: hampered in the adductors and forced to abandon, Kevin Mayer still not qualified for Paris 2024

It was therefore above a parking lot, where the University of San Diego stadium is located, that Kevin Mayer once again put the brakes on his Olympic goal, in the indifference of a small university meeting sunny. Affected in the “adductor major on the right side” according to his own diagnosis, the 32-year-old Frenchman called it quits during the high jump, the fourth of ten decathlon events.

Qualification for the Games (8,460 points) should only be a formality for the world record holder in the discipline (9,126 in 2018). But after his retirement at the World Championships in Budapest last summer, Mayer has not completed a decathlon since his world title in Eugene (Oregon, United States) in July 2022, and must absolutely validate the minimums before June 30. It will ultimately not be in San Diego, where the double Olympic vice-champion was once again let down by his body. “He had more to lose than to gain. He will heal quickly and start a new decathlon,” assured the boss of the French team Romain Barras, justifying Mayer’s caution.

After a first alert in the morning in the left knee during the warm-up for the length, it was finally discomfort in the adductor major on the right side contracted after his arrival in the United States on March 5 which prevented him from passing a bar up to par. Mayer, bandaged on his right thigh, after two unsteady runs, and a meeting with those around him, preferred to say stop. Despite this “fatigue contracture” which he hopes to go away “in ten days”, the Frenchman maintains total confidence for the Paris Games. “I’m not worried about qualifying. It's the decathlon, we're all screwed up (injured) (...) I've become my own coach, my own physical trainer, I'm a bit of my own mental trainer too, I have to learn to be more lenient with myself,” he explained to the few French media present on site, with a quickly regained smile. “I can completely see myself in a full Stade de France on D-Day, don’t worry. (Qualification) is the smallest of my problems. The day I will be on the track at the Stade de France, I can tell you that it will be a huge pleasure.”

In San Diego, in an almost deserted stadium for a university meeting with a shaky organization, which is the charm of athletics, the double world champion in the decathlon had correctly attacked his day over 100 m in 10 sec 75, his “best comeback”. He then experienced a first alert during the warm-up for the length, with a slight twist in his left knee due to the loss of spikes located under his shoe. Frustrated by his mark of 7.07 m, he showed himself brilliant in the shot put, reaching 16.10 m (according to the official mark, despite the judge's announcement of 16.12 m heard by everyone the audience) with a liberating cry, for his best throw in three years.

“I know that I have had the Games in mind for two years, and that on the day of the Games, my legs will be on fire. I can’t ask my brain to do the same for minimums,” he wanted to reassure once again. After giving up on a decathlon in Australia in December and abandoning in San Diego, the leader of French athletics should go and get his Olympic ticket in Europe in the spring. Mayer has become accustomed to Olympic qualifications pressed for time as in 2012 (obtained at the beginning of July a month before the Olympics after three withdrawals) and in 2016 (obtained at the end of May).

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