Johannes Erm follows in footsteps of Erki Nool with Euro decathlon gold – AW

    Combined events success at the European Champs in Rome for Estonia as world record-holder Kevin Mayer nails Olympic qualification ahead of his home Olympics

    A quarter of a century ago the decathlete Erki Nool became a national hero in Estonia when he won the 1998 European title in Budapest followed by Olympic gold in Sydney. He was accompanied at events by his own sizeable “Erki Nool fan club’ and the latest Estonian combined events star, Johannes Erm, also had a healthy number of supporters in Rome this week during his quest for European glory.

    With a score of 8764, Erm took gold ahead of Sander Skotheim of Norway (8635) and Makenson Gletty of France (8606).

    Niklas Kaul, the defending champion from Germany, finished strongly to move up to fourth in 8547 while Kevin Mayer, the world record-holder from France, scored 8476 in fifth – crucially 16 points ahead of the Olympic qualifying standard.

    This was Erm’s first major international title after minor medals in world and European under-20 championships, 11th place at the Tokyo Olympics and ninth at both the 2022 and 2023 World Championships. He also took bronze in the heptathlon at the World Indoors in Glasgow in March.

    Erm did however win the NCAA title in 2019 during a stint at the University of Georgia studying mechanical engineering.

    The competition was led after day one by Skotheim with 4566 points. He still led with three events to go from Gletty – the latter having enjoyed a reprieve in the 110m hurdles with a PB of 13.88 (+0/7m/s) in a solo re-run – followed by Erm.

    But the pole vault proved crucial as Erm cleared a PB of 5.10m whereas Skotheim could only manage 4.60m, well below his best. This meant Erm moved into first place from Gletty as Skotheim fell to fourth. Scrambling to secure a qualifying score for his home Olympics, Mayer got over 5.00m at his final attempt and went on to clear 5.30m.

    Kevin Mayer (Getty)

    Then, in the penultimate event, the javelin, Erm managed another PB with 62.71m and he sealed the title with a 4:24.95 for 1500m.

    Ultimately, Erm was just outside Nool’s Estonian record of 8815. Maybe it will come in Paris in August.

    “It has been two amazing days,” said Erm. “I do not remember when I was last time this happy. I love it here. A lot of Estonian fans came here, and every single one counted. All the locals – everyone cheered us on, you could feel it in all events, especially in the 1500m.”

    He added: “”I got the yellow (leader’s) bib for the javelin throw and after my final throw, I was already in shock. I had to calm down. Then came the 1500m. I couldn’t rest, my pulse was racing!

    “I just loved the big stage. I got four PBs plus the decathlon, but I would say that nothing was perfect, but everything was very, very, very good. Or at least above average. I know that there is room to improve but it is really difficult to put all 10 events together and I just did it, so that is just amazing.”

    Bronze medallist Gletty will now go to Paris as a medal contender on home soil. “It was a battle here as I did 11 events instead of 10,” he said.

    His team-mate Mayer, meanwhile, suggested he was satisfied with his form at this stage of the summer given his recent injury problems, as this was the 32-year-old’s first decathlon since winning the 2022 world title. “To finish a decathlon in June and be healthy ahead of the Olympics is good,” he said.

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