Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
13 Aug 2013
5:40 am

SA decathlon king turns sights on Glasgow

Wesley Botton

Fresh off his record-breaking performance at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, South Africa's most versatile athlete, Willem Coertzen, right, has set his sights on a medal at next year's Commonwealth Games.

Coertzen smashed the African mark in the decathlon on the weekend, finishing ninth with a career best 8 343 points.

“The Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow) is definitely high on my priority list next year,” he said yesterday.

“I definitely think I am a medal contender if I stay healthy and injury free. My main rival is the Canadian who took bronze in Moscow (Damian Warner), and if I can sort my pole vault out then we are going to have a good competition.”

While he was celebrating his top-10 finish against the top multi-discipline athletes in the world, the 30-year-old, who also finished ninth at last year’s London Olympics, admitted he had some work to do to grab a medal in Glasgow.

Lying eighth overnight in the two-day event, after setting personal bests in the high jump (2.05m) and 400m (48.32), he tumbled to 15th in the standings after a 4.50m leap in the pole vault, his weakest of the 10 disciplines in the most gruelling of track and field events.

He was second best of the field in the javelin throw, setting a career best of 69.35m, and was fourth fastest in the 1 500m, crossing the line in 4:24.60 to complete his record effort.

Coertzen said he needed to sharpen up his pole vault technique if he hoped to step on the podium at the Commonwealth showpiece – provided Athletics South Africa’s membership of Sascoc is reinstated, to allow athletes to be entered at the Games.

“I am really happy with my performance,” he said.

“I came to Moscow to try and break my SA and the African record and training has been going well, so I knew I was in good form and really went for it.

“There’s always events that can improve but overall I am really chuffed with the last two days.

“I had solid events but only three PB’s, so there is still a lot left in the tank, especially in the pole vault – the dark sheep in my decathlon – but I’ll get that sorted.”