Canadian decathlete Pierce LePage not defending Hypo Meeting title this weekend

Pierce LePage, the reigning world decathlon champion from Whitby, Ont., will not return to the Hypo Meeting this weekend in Götzis, Austria, to defend his title.

Reason for world champ's absence unknown; teammate Damian Warner to compete

A Canadian men's decathlete, dressed in a light and dark blue singlet, extends his right arm while preparing to throw a javelin at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, Austria on May 28, 2023.
Last May, Canada's Pierce LePage earned his first international victory since 2019, compiling 8,700 points, one shy of his then-personal best, to win his first Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria. (Peter Rinderer/APA/AFP via Getty Images/File)

As each of 23 men settle in the starting blocks for the 100 metres to open the 10-event decathlon at the Hypo Meeting on Saturday, there will be one noticeable absence on the track at Mösle Stadium in Götzis, Austria.

The name of defending champion Pierce LePage, from Whitby, Ont., did not appear on the start list Friday.

The 28-year-old has endured his share of injuries, including a torn patellar tendon in his left knee while capturing a silver medal at the 2022 World Athletics Championships, but there was no indication this week from Athletics Canada that LePage is hurt.

"There is unfortunately nothing to report," an Athletics Canada spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CBC Sports.

LePage, the world's top-ranked men's decathlete, has yet to compete outdoors this year. Most recently, according to his World Athletics profile, he performed in high jump and pole vault on Feb. 10 at the Ontario indoor U18 and open championships in Toronto.

Last May, LePage earned his first international victory since 2019, compiling 8,700 points, one shy of his personal best, to halt fellow Canadian Damian Warner's win streak at six.

WATCH | LePage captures his 1st Hypo Meeting title:

Canada's Pierce LePage claims decathlon gold at Hypo Meeting

1 year ago
Duration 1:44
Pierce LePage of Whitby, Ont., captures his first Hypo Meeting title, ending fellow Canadian and Olympic champion Damian Warner's six-year reign.

They waged a riveting battle, with LePage holding an insurmountable 206-point lead before cruising to a time of four minutes 45.74 seconds in the 1,500, the final competition of the two-day event.

"It was a battle. It was the toughest decathlon I've done in a long time," LePage said at the time. "All I could do is lay it on the track."

Three months later, LePage and Damian Warner again finished 1-2, the former with an 8,909-point PB to become the first Canadian to win a decathlon world title.

WATCH | LePage delivers personal-best performance in world decathlon:

Pierce LePage wins historic decathlon title, fellow Canadian Damian Warner claims silver

10 months ago
Duration 8:27
Pierce LePage of Whitby, Ont., becomes the first Canadian to win gold in the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships, while London, Ont., native Damian Warner captures silver.

LePage would leave Budapest, Hungary a little sore after twisting his right shoulder in long jump and having his knee buckle after clearing 1.99 metres in high jump later in the day. Then, he injured his hamstring before the following event the next day, the 110 hurdles.

The previous summer, LePage grabbed a silver medal at worlds behind Frenchman Kevin Mayer in Eugene, Ore.

All that eludes LePage, who collected 2018 Commonwealth Games silver and 2019 Pan Am bronze, is Olympic gold.

"I feel like every track athlete wants to be an Olympic champion," he told The Canadian Press last August. "I'm world champion now, so that's what's missing.

"I want to be an Olympic champion and I'm going to do everything in my power to become the Olympic champion."

The decathlon at this year's Summer Games begins Aug. 2 in Paris.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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