Ahe decathlon world champion Niklas Kaul renounced his two best disciplines at the Olympic qualification competition in Ratingen. He could afford it, not because he had come through the two days so well, but because the national competition was too weak or because he was unlucky with injuries. In any case, there was no one far and wide in sight who could scrape together the necessary qualification standard of 8350 points.
Even Kaul had not presented himself with brilliant performances by the time he left, which he himself made no secret of. “The first day was shit, you have to say that openly,” he said after the fifth discipline. With 4009 points he was just able to overcome the 4000 mark and stayed in sixth place.
For him, the paradox was above all the self-observation that he felt “fit like never before”, but could not bring his physical prerequisites on track. He had the impression, according to the sports and physics student, in a curious way of self-reflection, as if he had “grown ten centimeters” in one year. So it’s no wonder that he can no longer get the usual processes going. Apparently, Kaul is still 1.90 meters tall. His problem in the technical implementation must have another reason.
In Ratingen, he repeated his announcement at half-time that he would say goodbye to the competition if it should be foreseeable that none of his competitors could come close to the required norm. And so it was on the Sunday after the eighth discipline, which is why the 23-year-old from Mainz packed his bag before throwing the javelin. Before that, he had at least proven his class over 110 meter hurdles and set a personal best in 14.38 seconds.
Even at the traditional meeting in Götzis at the end of May, things did not go optimally for Kaul: with 8263 points, he only finished fifth. In his sensational World Cup victory in 2019, he had scored 8,691 points, the year before he had traveled to Berlin at the last moment to replace the injured Kai Kazmirek and had finished fourth as an EM debutant.
Because of the failed Corona summer 2020, his World Cup performance is also considered to be a fulfilled norm for Beijing 2021. According to the logic of the German Athletics Association, three norm fulfillers should have trumped Kaul’s brand in the official qualification competition in Ratingen this weekend in order for him kick off the Tokyo squad. But none of the shrunken German decathlon team was able to do this. The European champion from 2018, Arthur Abele, is missing injured, the two-time world championship medalist from 2015 and 2017, Rico Freimuth, and the silver medalist from 2013, Michael Schrader, ended their careers in October 2020. And Tim Nowak’s Olympic dreams came to nothing while pole vaulting when his pole broke. The man from Ulm had to give up without a valid attempt due to a hand injury.
Besides Kaul, Kai Kazmirek remains in the roster for the Olympics. Despite the poor preliminary performances, the world champion has not lost his self-confidence: “When I compete in Tokyo, I don’t worry about my form. At the peak of the season it still worked. “