Damian Warner fifth in decathlon, the best finish for a Canadian at 2017 world championships

By Lori Ewing

LONDON — Damian Warner’s hopes of a medal in the decathlon at the world track and field championships were dashed as he fought through a recent illness to a fifth-place finish.

Warner, a world silver and bronze medallist, competed a few days after being quarantined with the stomach bug going around the Canadian team’s hotel.

The native of London, Ont., was fourth after the first five events on Friday, and moved into third Saturday morning by winning the 110-metre hurdles in 13.63.

That was as high as he would climb. He dropped to fifth after the discus and remained there through the final three events — the pole vault, javelin and 1,500 metres — to finish with 8,309 points.

Kevin Mayer of France won gold with 8,768, while Germany’s Rico Freimuth is second with 8,564, and Kai Kazmirek of Germany third with 8,488.

Warner won bronze at the 2013 world championships and silver two years ago in Beijing behind American superstar Ashton Eaton. After dominating the decathlon for several years, Eaton announced his retirement in January, vacating the top spot on the podium, and Warner had a decent shot of claiming it in London.

Warner fell ill after Tuesday’s practice with the stomach bug, believed to be norovirus, that has swept through the hotel where the Canadians are staying. He spent 48 hours in quarantine and had just one light practice on Thursday afternoon before competition began Friday.

It’s the first time Warner has missed a major international podium since he was fifth at the 2012 Olympics in the same London stadium, winning both the Commonwealth and Pan American Games decathlon titles as well.

Elsewhere, Mohammed Ahmed, 26, from St. Catharines, Ont., finished sixth in the men’s 5,000 metres in 13 minutes 35.43 seconds. He was fourth in the 5,000 at the Rio Olympics.

Ahmed, who was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, but spent much of his childhood in Kenya before moving to Canada, finished eighth — a Canadian-best in the distance — in the 10,000 metres earlier in the meet.

Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris won the 5,000 in 13:32.79, while British great Mo Farrah, in his final world championship race, settled for silver in 13:33.22.

Justyn Knight, 21, of Toronto, finished ninth in 13:39.15.

Canada’s men’s 4×100 relay team — Gavin Smellie, Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, and Mobolade Ajomale — was sixth in 38.59. The team was missing star Andre De Grasse, who withdrew from the meet with a hamstring injury. Great Britain took the gold, the U.S. was second, while Japan followed in third.

In what he’s said was the final race of his illustrious career, Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt pulled up with an injury about 30 metres into his anchor leg. He waved off the medics that raced onto the track with a wheelchair, walking off on his own power.

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