Imagine dedicating five years of your life for one moment and having it go terribly wrong. Belgian decathlete Thomas van der Plaetsen is living that reality right now.
Van der Plaetsen began the Tokyo 2020 decathlon by finishing 17th in the first event, the 100-metre dash. But it gets worse.
Tragedy ensued for him in the long jump portion of the event. The 30-year-old broke out of the blocks building great momentum, but maybe a little too much because something went wrong in his right leg just as he planted his feet to take off.
Not only did Van der Plaetsen injure himself on the jump, he also awkwardly flung his body into the pit for a nearly face-first bail that’s already making the rounds on social media, adding literal insult to injury… and some sand in his mouth.
— Matt W-S 🔑🟤 (@Yakcall) August 4, 2021
Van der Plaetsen, who finished eighth in Rio, laid down in disbelief for several moments before medical came to his aid and eventually escorted him out of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium in a wheelchair. The injury remains unclear, and so does whether he’ll compete in the rest of the decathlon or not, but he’s undoubtedly out of medal contention.
Meanwhile, Canadian decathlete Damian Warner absolutely crushed his first day of competition and stands in first place after three events.
The London, Ont., native annihilated the field and tied his own decathlon world record in the 100-metre dash with a 10.12 sprint that would’ve placed him in the men’s 100-metre final.
Matching his WORLD BEST 🇨🇦⚡️
Damian Warner (@DamianWarner) 🇨🇦 sends a message to the rest of the field by matching his world best time of 10.12 in the 100m to get his Olympic decathlon started at #Tokyo2020 @AthleticsCanada https://t.co/WQxgCAnSV4 pic.twitter.com/3b9M60nsyJ
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 4, 2021
Then, the 31-year-old set an Olympic record with an 8.24 decathlon long jump that would have been good enough to win bronze in the men’s individual long jump event.
Warner capped it off by throwing a personal-best 14.80 metres in shot put, one of his worst events. Have yourself a day, Damian.
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