In the European Championships decathlon, Thomas Van der Plaetsen gave Belgium their first ever outdoor continental combined events title.

Following a solid 11.23 opener in the 100m, Van der Plaetsen ruled the long jump with a 7.64m SB jump. Followed by a 13m17 throw in the shot put. His 2.10m clearance in the high jump was only matched by Krisjan Rosenberg, and saw him leap up to third overall. The 25-year-old concluded the first day of competition with a 50.50 clocking in the 400m.

On day 2, Van der Plaetsen recorded a decent 14.64 clocking in the 110m hurdles and his 44.32m throw in the discus moved him up to third in the overall standings.

The Belgian continued to rise in the pole vault and relished the full attention of the crowd, clearing 5.40m – his best ever in a decathlon – to take the overall lead. Having struggled with an elbow injury this year, the javelin was going to be Van der Plaetsen’s most challenging event of the contest. Although his 57.23m opening throw was eight metres down on his best, it kept him in medal contention.

He then left nothing to chance in only his third decathlon since recovering from testicular cancer, finishing in 4:37.84 in the closing 1500m to take gold with a score of 8218.

“It is difficult to say if this is my greatest win, but it is definitely the one I cherish the most after everything that happened last year,” Van der Platsen said.