Lindon Victor in the decathlon at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
Two-time NCAA champion and collegiate record-holder Lindon Victor is an emerging decathlon star. Here the combined eventer from Grenada identifies a moment of euphoria and a moment of desolation from a rollercoaster 2017.
One of the highest moments of my life came when setting a US collegiate record and national record of 8539 at the Southeastern Conference Championships – a performance which also helped me win the Grenadian Sportsman of the Year award.
I didn’t have the best winter (in 2016-17) after my coach Kris Grimes resigned from Texas A&M University. At the time my pole vault was going very well but I had to start over again. It was then that my countryman Alleyne Francique (the two-time world indoor 400m champion) came in to support me, more as a mental help.
He told me that, coming from a small country, nobody expects me to be a collegiate record holder. It was also great hearing about some of his stories, which I had first heard as a youngster growing up. Alleyne was a big emotional boost.
In my first decathlon of 2017 at the Texas Relays, I set a national record of 8472. But having scored a huge first-day PR, I was honestly a little disappointed with my final score. After the first day, I was thinking of a score of 8800. Unfortunately, I think nerves got the better of me on day two – normally my stronger day – when I started throwing up on the track and I ended up with my lowest ever pole vault mark in two years (with 4.30m).
Going into the conference finals in Columbia, I was determined to break the record again because I felt I could have done so much better. But on day one I had a mishap in the shot; I had two fouls, followed by a last throw of 15.18m, which was about four feet down on my best.
At the end of day one, I went home talked to my brother (fellow decathlete Kurt Felix) and said I’ve left a lot of points on the table, but I knew my hurdles and discus had been going well and I was confident going into day two.
I started out with PBs in the 110m hurdles (14.45) and discus (55.22m) and then an outdoor PB in the pole vault (4.70m). I started cramping in the 1500m and ran a disappointing time so when I crossed the line with a PB of 8539, initially it felt slightly bittersweet. But when I reflected on my performance, I was proud to have set a collegiate record.
Two years earlier, if you had said I would score 8500, I would have thought you were kidding. Now I have a different mind-set and different goals.
The 2017 IAAF World Championships in London was definitely a low moment and a lesson learned.
By the time I had arrived in London, I had already competed in three heptathlons and three decathlons that year and I felt tired. After the college season and NCAAs (which Victor won in June) I took some time off to rest because I was feeling physically and mentally tired, but I never regained my form from earlier in the season.
Even during my warm-up for the 100m, my body was not responding as it normally does. I then jumped poorly in the long jump. It was one of those meets when I couldn’t catch a break. I was never at my best.
After day one, I felt sore. My hamstring and groin was hurting and then, after a disappointing hurdles, I fouled out in the discus. I have a love-hate relationship with the discus and it is not the first time I have fouled all three attempts. After two failures, I took a risk by not holding back. I had hoped to throw far and maybe move up to sixth or seventh. I left it all out there but I didn’t pull my hips through as I normally do and fouled.
I was very disappointed. I felt as if I let my country down, a lot of people down. Yet I didn’t want to show my frustration as I wanted to support my older brother Kurt Felix (who went on to finish seventh) for the rest of the competition.
Looking back, the 2017 World Championships were a learning experience and it has made me hungry for more success in the future.
Steve Landells for the IAAF