SPORTS

Pan Am newsmaker of the day: Damian Warner

07/23/2015 10:47 EDT | Updated 07/23/2016 05:59 EDT
As Damain Warner crossed the finish line Thursday night in the final stage of the Pan Am decathlon competition, the 1,500-metre race, he accomplished four things.

The 25-year old from London, Ont., won the gold medal, he set a new personal best in the 1,500m, and, most impressively, he shattered both the Pan Am decathlon record and the 19-year-old Canadian mark.

Heading into the final race, the Games record and gold medal seemed well within Warner's grasp, but the Canadian record was a little further away. To get to that mark, held by Michael Smith, who was calling the race, Warner had to run under 4:29, which would be a new personal best.

Breaking away from the field early in the race and widening his lead, Warner crossed the finish line all alone in a time of 4:24.73. That gave him a total score of 8,659, besting Smith's old record by 33 points.

In Toronto, Warner set personal best scores in five of the 10 decathlon events — the 100m, 110m hurdles, long jump, discus throw and the 1,500 — in order to reach that Canadian record.

Improving his personal best scores at major events has been something that Warner has done his entire career.

Warner's breakout season came in 2010 when he finished second at the Canadian championships. The next two years, Warner would win the national title.

Heading into the London 2012 Olympics, Warner was under the automatic qualifying total of 8,200 points, at 8,107, but made the Olympic team based on perceived future potential.

At the Olympics, Warner improved his personal best total score by 355 points to finish in fifth place.

A year later at the 2013 world championships, he improved his personal best score again to win the bronze medal and become the first Canadian to stand on the podium since 1995.

Warner added Commonwealth Games gold to his resume in 2014 in Glasgow, setting himself up as a heavy medal favourite heading into the Pan Am Games.

Next up for Warner are the world championships in Beijing at the end of August. That will be his first opportunity to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics. All Warner has to do is get a total score over 8,100, but to be in the hunt for the medals at the worlds, his score will need to be closer to what he totaled on Thursday night.

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