Damian Warner Eager for Paris 2024's Electrifying Atmosphere

Damian Warner, the Canadian decathlete and 2020 Olympic gold medalist, anticipates an exuberant atmosphere at Paris 2024. Overcoming numerous challenges during Tokyo's pandemic-affected games, Warner is poised for his fourth Olympics. His experience, motivation, and recent victories have set him up for potential gold in Paris.

Reuters | Updated: 06-06-2024 21:58 IST | Created: 06-06-2024 21:58 IST
Damian Warner Eager for Paris 2024's Electrifying Atmosphere

Damian Warner is excited about the party atmosphere that undoubtedly awaits him at Paris 2024 three years after he captured Olympic decathlon gold in a Tokyo stadium eerily absent of fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian's Olympic journey played out like a Hollywood movie. Pandemic lockdowns forced him to train in the months leading up to Tokyo in a run-down ice hockey arena. His team brought in space heaters, built a jumping pit and throwing circle and laid down a 60-metre track, but many days were so cold he lost feeling in his fingers. His preparation for Paris has been a breeze in comparison.

"Yeah, that was an interesting year. There was so much stuff that was going to be different, like no fans in the stands, the whole isolation stuff and (COVID) tests every day," Warner told Reuters. "I think the energy in the (Paris) stadium is going to be the best of my career. People are excited to get back out there, and with it in Paris, which is already such a travel destination, it's going to be very high energy," he added. "I'm looking forward to getting into an environment like that again, and having some fun and competing."

Paris will be the 34-year-old's fourth Olympics -- he won bronze in 2016 and was fifth in 2012 -- and he has competed at numerous world championships, capturing four world outdoor medals. "Scheduling causes a lot of problems for people, but I've been able to deal with that," Warner said of the benefits of experience.

"Adverse weather is a big issue and I've been able to deal with that. But then also the pressure, dealing with the media, dealing with the Athletes' Village and how not to get burnt out, I've been able to go through those situations so I can handle those things really well." "Even little things like 'oh, the buses are late' -- I've been there, done that, so it's just a matter of leaning on my experience and trusting my technique."

Warner, silver medallist at last season's world championships behind compatriot Pierce LePage, captured an historic eighth title at the Gotzis Hypo-Meeting -- considered an unofficial multi-events world championships -- in May, setting him up nicely for the Olympics. Despite already achieving gold on sport's grandest stage, motivation is never tough to summon, nor goals difficult to set for an Olympics.

"The goal is to win. There's just that natural excitement that's always there because it's the Olympics," said Warner. "When you're younger, that's what you dreamed about, so whenever it's an Olympic year, everything's always a little bit easier, motivation is always a little bit easier. So naturally, it just comes easier to just go out there and fight for it.

"And it's not going to be easy because the competition level is so high. But I think that we're in a good place." He plans to compete at the 2025 Tokyo world championships because he would like to experience that stadium full of fans, but is not sure of what his career holds beyond that.

"Will take it year by year, and ask myself the question: Are you enjoying it? Are you healthy? Do you still have something to give back to the sport? If all those answers are yes, I'll keep going." Warner spoke to media as part of the "Feed the Dream" campaign with Empire Company Limited, the Canadian team's official grocer. The campaign gives fans a chance to leave good-luck notes in the virtual "lunch boxes" of Canadian athletes.

The Olympic decathlon is scheduled for Aug. 2 and 3 at the Stade de France.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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