Estonia’s multi-eventer Maicel Uibo pinpoints a challenging 2016 and 2017 for two low moments and the joy of winning heptathlon bronze at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham for his high.
“Two of my lowest moments came in 2016 when I no-marked in the shot put in the Olympic decathlon and in 2017 when I pulled out of the World Championship decathlon in London after picking up a hamstring injury in the pole vault.
Leading into 2016, I had prepared well. I’d won an NCAA bronze medal and I was looking forward to my first Olympic Games.
I had an okay start in the 100m and long jump in Rio but then I had a funny moment with my first round throw in the shot, when it (the shot) seemed to slip from my neck and I committed a foul.
My second throw was technically bad and I fell over the front of the board. With only one throw remaining I was thinking, just tone it down and get a mark, but once again I ended up throwing over the board. It was pretty freaky.
My immediate emotion was one of confusion at what has just happened. Despite this, I decided to finish the competition because I didn’t want to quit and not finish at an Olympic Games. It was obviously not meant to happen for me in Rio, but it was very disappointing.
In 2017 my struggles started at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade. In the 60m I tweaked my hamstring about 40m into the race and I had to pull out of the heptathlon.
I thought I had got rid of the problem and by the time of the Gotzis decathlon in May I was in good shape again. Unfortunately, I no-marked in the shot put again and tore my hamstring in the pole vault.
It was then a case of working to try and get the hamstring healthy, but it took way longer than I had hoped. By the time I reached London for the World Championships, I was not in great shape and during pole vault warm up the hamstring pain returned. I felt if I did one more jump, I would have caused further damage, so I withdrew from the competition. I later found I had a 5cm tear in my hamstring and I was back once more in recovery mode. My whole 2017 season had been a mess.
The main challenge as always ahead a new season as a multi-eventer is to remain healthy. I spent some time with my University of Georgia coach but also a lot of my off-season training in Clermont, Florida with my wife (Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Olympic 400m champion) and her training group.
I managed to qualify for World Indoors in January (he scored 6039pts in Clemson, South Carolina) and by the time the World Indoor Championships arrived in Birmingham I was even better shape.
Maicel Uibo in the decathlon 110m hurdles at the NCAA Championships (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
The two events which proved pivotal to be winning a medal were the high jump and the pole vault. In the high jump, I was the last man in the competition, clearing 2.17m (which was 12cm better than the second placed athlete and an indoor PB). The pole vault was also fun and it proved a bit of a tug-of-war between Kai Kazmirek and I who both in the battle for bronze. I knew I would probably need to finish one height above him to probably have enough in the 1000m to win bronze, and that’s how it worked out (with Uibo clearing a PB of 5.30m to Kazmirek’s 5.20m).
I was in good running shape, as I’d probably done more running there than at any point on my career. In my head, I thought he (Kazmirek) would find it hard to run 2:40 flat and that 2:38 would be good enough for me. I glanced up on the big screen on lap three and thought I saw Kai, only to later realise it was another athlete.
As soon as I crossed the line, I counted the seconds between the two of us and knew I’d done enough to win bronze (Uibo ran 2:38.51 and Kazmirek 2:42.15 to take bronze by a margin of 27 points courtesy of a new PB of 6265).
To win a medal in Birmingham meant a lot to me after the disappointment of 2016 and 2017. I felt positive emotions and it acted as a big motivational boost.