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Damian Warner named 2019 Athletics Canada combined events athlete of year

Winning decathlon’s Hypo Meeting for a fifth time, repeating as Pan Am champion and capturing world championship bronze in a span of six months is impressive on its own.

But Damian Warner did all of that competing on two bad ankles in 2019, an achievement Athletics Canada deemed worthy of the Lyle Sanderson Award by announcing the London, Ont., native as Combined Events Athlete of the Year on Friday.

Warner, 30, proclaimed to be in the best shape of his life in April after the sports world was halted a month earlier by the coronavirus outbreak, leading to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics this summer and subsequent rescheduling to July 2021.

“I think I’ll just be a little bit healthier with one more year, I imagine,” the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, who sprained each ankle in the 12 months ahead of worlds last October, told CBC Sports in April. “From last year to this year, my discus and shot put improved … so if I take another year to continue to hone and continue to improve those skills, I think they can be even better next year.”

WATCH | Damian Warner wins world bronze in decathlon:

Damian Warner finishes third in overall points in the decathlon, while fellow Canadian Pierce LePage comes in fifth in Doha, Qatar. 13:13
In May 2019, Warner amassed a season world-leading 8,711 points in Götzis, Austria, to beat Grenada’s Lindon Victor and Maicel Uibo of Estonia a year after breaking his own Canadian record with 8,795 points.

Warner led Victor by 122 points entering the final discipline before crossing the finish line in four minutes, 37.39 seconds in the 1,500, nearly 20 seconds ahead of his closest competitor and finishing 238 points clear of Victor overall.

Less than three months later, Warner closed with solid performances in the javelin and 1,500 to successfully defend his Pan Am title in Peru while battling a bone spur in his left ankle.

3 career world medals

This time, he finished with 8,513 points, nearly 300 ahead of Victor, while fellow Canadian Pierce LePage was third with 8,161.

“I’m liking how it’s progressing and I’m liking how it’s feeling going into [worlds at] Doha,” he said. “I think that I’m ready for a bigger score there.”

WATCH | Warner discusses adjustments with Olympics postponed:

Olympic bronze medallist in decathlon Damian Warner didn’t dwell on disappointment, but instead chooses to focus on getting even better for a 2021 Olympics. 1:10

Warner sat second entering the final event at worlds in Qatar but faded down the stretch after taking an early lead in the 1,500, placing ninth and third overall.

The bronze was Warner’s third career world medal after the two-time Olympian collected silver in 2015 and bronze two years earlier.

Germany’s Niklas Kaul became the youngest decathlon medallist ever at the world championships, winning gold at 21 years old over Uibo.

“These last six weeks leading up to this decathlon [have] been a bit rough for many reasons,” Warner said, “but I’m happy that the season’s over and I can regroup and get ready for the big push next year.”

At 12 p.m. ET, Athletics Canada will name the Cal D. Bricker Memorial Trophy recipient for the most outstanding performance of the year.

Athletics Canada will announce its final three awards Saturday:

  • 12 p.m. ET — Track athlete of the year (Phil A. Edwards Memorial Trophy)
  • 1 p.m. – Field athlete of the year (F.N.A Rowell Trophy)
  • 2 p.m. – Athlete of the year (Jack W. Davies Trophy)

This week’s other winners:

  • U18 athlete of the Year (Myrtle Cook Trophy): Abdullahi Hassan, middle-distance running
  • U 20 athlete of the Year (Eric E. Coy Trophy): Trinity Tutti, discus/shot put
  • Development coach of the year (Jane and Gerry Swan Awards): Besnik Mece, track and field
  • Coach of the year (Dr. Doug Clement Awards): Gerry Dragomir, track and field
  • University athlete of the year (Dr. Fred Tees Memorial Trophy): Pierce LePage, decathlon
  • Off track athlete of the year (Fred Begley Memorial Trophy): Evan Dunfee, race walking
  • Para athlete of the year in wheelchair events (Chantal Petitclerc Award): Brent Lakatos
  • Para athlete of the year in ambulatory events (Arnold Boldt Award): Nathan Riech, middle-distance events

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