Moloney became the first Australian to medal in the decathlon at an Olympics or World Championships. And he did it at his first appearance.
Tokyo 2020 was the coming out party for the 21 year old Australian. After announcing himself to the world in December 2020 at the Queensland Combined Events Championships in Brisbane, he backed it all up and more on the world stage.
He set the Australian Record at that meet in December 2020, with a score of 8492 points in the gruelling Queensland heat. It turns out, that was the perfect indicator of how hard he could push, as he set a new Australian record at the Olympics, scoring 8649 points in the gruelling Tokyo heat.
The Decathlon kicks off with the 100m. Moloney set himself up strong with a massive personal best in the event. He ran second in his heat to Damian Warner of Canada (a feeling he would get used to), but his 10.34 time gave him 1013 points, and put him straight to the top end of the leaderboard.
The Long Jump is the next event, and Moloney came second, behind Warner again. His jump of 7.64 was not a personal best, but scored him 970 points. It was just three centimetres short of the score he set in Brisbane, and another sign that perhaps something special was brewing for the Queenslander.
The final event of the first morning was the shot put. Despite Moloney’s build, he’s not quite at the level of some of the power athletes in the decathlon. His mark 14.49 was one of the lower scores in the event, netting him just 758 points.
At the end of the first morning, Moloney had collected 2741 points, a handy start that showed that his performance last December was no fluke.
Moloney’s finest performance was the high jump. Moloney sat out the early heights, confident in his ability to clear the bar at whatever height was needed. The field started to thin out at 2.02m, and Moloney was the only competitor clearing 2.11m, a personal best, to be able to eat into the lead of Damien Warner by accumulating 906 points.
The final event for Day 1 was the 400m. Moloney finished in 46.29, slightly ahead of Warner and Pierce Lepage (CAN). His season best performance gave him 994 points, giving 4,591 for the first day.
Moloney said at the end of Day 1 that he knew that Day 1 would be a stronger day for him, and explained that he was battling patellar tendonitis while he competed. With a strong first day, he knew there was a strong chance of staying competitive on Day 2, if he could hold it together.
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The 110m hurdles kicks off Morning 2 of the Decathlon, and Moloney started Day 2 the way he started Day 1 – with a Personal Best, just a fraction behind Damian Warner, setting an Olympic Decathlon Best. Moloney’s 14.08 netted him 964 points, but the gap to Warner was the same as his gain in the high jump the night before.
Then it was on to the Discus, where Moloney held his own, throwing a 44.38, scoring 754 points. While it wasn’t a Personal Best, it was better than his performance back in December, and showed the ongoing improvement for the 21 year old.
The Pole Vault was the last event of Morning 2, and it was another event with a strong performance, but not an outstanding one. Moloney cleared 5.00m, better than he did in Brisbane, but behind some of the outstanding results of his competitors. The clearance netted him 910 points,
Going into Evening 2, the young Queenslander knew it would be tough to hold the bronze medal position. Javelin, Moloney’s weakest event would pose a challenge, but if he could come through that, he might be ok for bronze.
His throw of 57.12m was a season best, but still well short of the top echelon of the field. Moloney was visibly starting to struggle with knee pain, as his takeoff knee was heavily strapped. Despite that, his score of 695 gave him hope of keeping bronze in his grasp.
It would all come down to the 1500m. Moloney needed to finish within a certain time gap of Lepage, and Garrett Scantling (USA) to hold bronze.
As the race started, the young Queenslander was visibly struggling. Enter teammate and training partner Cedric Dubler. While Dubler’s hopes of a medal were long gone, he knew that if he could help Moloney through the run, he could maintain bronze.
Images of Dubler yelling at Moloney, dragging Moloney through the first 1200m of the race set Australian hearts alight. And then, Moloney found a kick, a burst of pace, and came home like a house on fire.
It would be a six second personal best for the 21 year old, with his time of 4:39.19 netting him 685 points. It gave him a new Australian Record score of 8649 points, and was enough for bronze, just 38 points ahead of Scantling.
Moloney collapsed on the ground just past the finish line, as Dubler finished, came over, and celebrated with him. The bond between the two having been on show for the whole world.
The young Queenslander, in his first major meet, had taken Australia’s first decathlon medal at a major meet. His performance, through all the challenges shows that there is a bright future ahead for him.
But for now, he’s the third best decathlete in the world, and can celebrate like nobody is watching.
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