D Days
H Hours
M Min
until the 2018 Commonwealth Games commence.
Longines Time
April 4 to 15 2018

John Lane on the joy of decathlon

9 Apr 2018 by Andrew Bryan

The first time John Lane tried decathlon, he tore his biceps throwing a javelin.

A few years later he impaled himself attempting a new stride pattern over the hurdles, but the Florida born, Gold Coast raised, Englishman keeps coming back.

When GC2018 catches up with Lane he has just finished a typically gruelling morning session under the searing Gold Coast sun. His ankle is red, slightly swollen and wrapped in ice after he clattered into a hurdle at the end of training.

It happens, he states matter-of-factly.

He’s already spent three hours on the track and he’ll be back at it again for another three hours later this afternoon. The ankle will just be a ‘niggle’ he has to deal with for a few days.

With the Games fast approaching, each training session is critical.

“The countdown is always going down, you can’t get any days back,” Lane tells GC2018.com.

“You are always on a timeline and you have to make sure you do the right stuff at the right time.

“If you try to train fresh for every event you will never get any training done. That’s the joy of decathlon.

"You are going to train more under fatigue than you would compete under fatigue, because you have reps and reps and reps during the week.”

Decathlon was not Lane’s first passion. Had it not been for a serious shoulder injury, he could very well have represented the Wallabies in rugby union.

He even represented Australia in Japan at the World school Rugby Championships before a shoulder injury in year 12 ended is rugby ambitions.

Enter decathlon.

“All I wanted to do at school was play rugby union,” Lane says.

 “I did athletics twice a week, it was just sprint training and the only reason I did that was so I could get quick for rugby. I had no aspirations other than that.

“I had two shoulder reconstructions and that ended my rugby career. I tried Decathlon for a month and the rest is history. I could run and I could jump. So that is most of the events, I just needed to learn how to throw and how to pole vault.

“I didn’t know much about it at all, I knew there were 10 events, but that is about it. I had never done discuss, shot put or javelin before. I’d never done pole vault. I started decathlon quite late compared to some of the people I compete against.”

John Lane celebrates during the pole vault event at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
John Lane celebrates during the pole vault event at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Lane is a driven competitor.

He finished fourth at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and while he maintains he has come to accept the result, there is a palpable sense of melancholy.

To get so close to a medal and miss out is something that appears to be driving him on.

“Fourth isn’t great,” he says.

“It was four years ago; it was a long time ago. It was a learning experience and I’ll never ever forget what I learned over those two days.

“It is a hard thing to swallow, I’m okay with it now, but it was tough. Hopefully I can score a PB at the Commonwealth Games. You can’t ask for anything more than that, if I do that and get beaten, so be it. There’s nothing you can do about it.

“It would be amazing to medal at GC2018, [Glasgow] was a bit of a learning curve, to be so close and have some stuff go wrong at the last minute.”

Lane is proud to represent England and the UK, despite growing up on Gold Coast’s iconic beaches.

The chance to medal in front of his friends and family is obviously a massive thing for a kid who grew up and still lives and trains just a short drive from the Gold Coast track, even if it is in a different colour singlet.

“It would be amazing to medal. My family still live here. Aunties, uncles, mum, dad and all the people I went to school with. It will feel like a home Games, I will just have a different jersey on.

“Dad’s side of the family are from Birmingham, Mum’s side from Manchester, it’s only me and my sister who were born outside of the UK. I’m always very proud to represent the UK and England.

“I see Australia as my home, because I grew up here, but my time in England was amazing.

“Cedric [Dubler] is absolutely flying at the minute. He’s obviously Australia’s main hope for a medal. There are no illusions, I’ll be competing for England and wearing England kit, but I’ll know a lot of people in the crowd. I won’t feel the pressure of the home Games, but it’ll feel like a home Games.

“I feel like the Decathlon in the Commonwealth over the last few years has just gone through the roof, it all depends on the day and who turns up.

"It wouldn’t surprise me if 8,200 or 8,300 points doesn’t get a medal. Which is ridiculous if that happens.

“That standard would be one of the top standards in decathlon. That could realistically happen if everyone is on their A game. There are 10 events, which means 10 things could go wrong, 10 things could go right. The toughest thing is putting 10 events together.

“I won’t have the added pressure, but the back of my head, I’ll know everyone in the crowd and I’ll be familiar with everything.”

John Lane explains to GC2018 how he got impaled during the hurdles.

“The norm is to do eight steps to the first hurdle for a male decathlete. I tried to do seven steps for the first time over in England, my coach thought it was a good idea. I came out of the blocks, did seven steps, was way too far out, and I ran past the hurdle, knocked it down. The hurdle went down, and stand came up straight through my leg.

“It didn’t rip my shorts; I didn’t feel like it was that bad. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, so I pulled my shorts up and there was just like a perfect hole. I thought oh god. My leg had just split. I actually got put straight into a wheelchair and wheeled into the back room and they stitched me up then and there. The doctor did me a massive favour, if it wasn’t for him, I was in a bad way. I was stitched up five minutes after it happened.

“It is just the joy of hurdles and decathlon. I now do seven steps and have figured out how to do it without killing myself.

“There was no blood at all, I don’t understand it, it was like the perfect split, just straight through muscle, that’s why I didn’t think anything was wrong.

“The coach went green. He had to lie down, he felt a bit rough. While I was getting stitched up he was lying down with his feet up. He’ll hate me telling that story.

“You can’t let stuff like that stop you. Things are going to go wrong when you don’t know what you are doing. It ended up working well for me in the end. Obviously had I known that was going to happen I would have tried something differently. Every athlete is going to have scars and bad stories with injuries. I’m not the only one.”

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