Less than two weeks after a hamstring injury during the 400-metre event at the World Athletics Championships forced Canadian decathlete Damian Warner out of competition, the 32-year-old is already planning his comeback.
Warner’s coach Gar Leyshon says his star athlete and the team are already mapping out a strategy for the world championships next summer and then the path to the Paris Olympics.
“He’s pissed off. So frustrated. And motivated,” Leyshon said. “We’re already planning what we’re going to do next year.”
Warner is going to be out for about six-to-eight weeks with a hamstring strain, says Leyshon. It could have been much worse.
While the focus now is moving forward and putting the disappointment of the injury behind them, Leyshon can’t help but watch the tape of the race over and over.
Warner was in first place after four events on the opening day of competition at worlds in Eugene, Ore. All he needed was a solid finish to the day in the 400m and he would have been leading heading into the second day of the decathlon.
Leyshon says they were all baffled, however, when they saw Warner had drawn Lane 1 for the 400m.
“They don’t make anyone run in Lane 1 in the 400-metre men’s heats because it’s a death sentence. They haven’t made anyone run in the decathlon in Lane 1 since the 2013 world championships,” Leyshon said.
“He drew Lane 1 and I swore. I talked to the referee and I said, ‘Is there a chance to redraw these lanes?’ I was told if people pulled out they would look at it.”
Two athletes pulled out, so Leyshon wasn’t worried. But after high jump, nothing had changed going into the 400m.
“You’re taking the fastest guy in the world ever in decathlon and making him run in Lane 1. Damian, in his 12-year career, has never run in Lane 1. Not one time.”
Leyshon says he scoured over every 400m race at worlds, including heats and hurdles. He says out of the 25 races, only seven included athletes having to compete in Lane 1.
The issue is that the initial corner is so tight and it’s when the athletes are taking their most explosive strides — a perfect environment for injury.
“We looked at the video a number of times and you can see when it happened and you can see it happened just out of the turn when he starts to straighten up. I should have raised a bigger stink and caused a scene. I should have yelled at someone. It’s in my nature to do so and I’ve been trying not to. But I should have,” Leyshon says.
Only three times throughout Warner’s highly successful career has he been injured, in 2014, 2018 and now 2022.