Sport

Meet Rio Olympian Cedric Dubler, a man of many sporting talents. By Richard Cooke.
Credit: SUPPLIED

Ten out of 10: Cedric Dubler, 21, decathlete

I’ve been asked, “How do you get the horses around?” “Decathalon – what’s that?” Just some blank looks. Sometimes people pretend to know what I’m talking about, but absolutely have no idea. There’s a variety of different reactions. Once you explain what’s involved and what it takes, there’s an immense amount of support.

The 10 events? We’ll go through the order first. On the first day, there are the 100 metres, the long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 metres. Then the second day, there are the hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 metres. So, a variety: running, jumping and throwing events. It’s a very good challenge, and a very different event to pursue.

As a kid, I dabbled in a lot of different sports. I played soccer, I played basketball, I did cross-country, I did some volleyball – and athletics, of course. With the athletics I was more of a jumper, hurdler-based athlete.

But in 2008 I saw Steve Hooker competing at the Olympics and turned to Mum and said, “Mum, I want to try that. I want to do that.” She called up the track at UQ and found a coach.

Pole vault used to be my favourite. Now I’ve gotten to that stage where it’s more about trying not to die, rather than how much fun I’m having. No – pole vault is probably my favourite by far. It’s such a thrill to just – I don’t know – it’s just different to all the events. It’s such a thrill to get thrown off the top of the pole. When you hit a jump right, it’s such an incredible feeling.

I remember my first pole vault training. I think it was a Sunday afternoon at UQ. I went out there, saw a pole for the first time. We started off in the sandpit to figure out how to run and how to hold it, how to take off. Then, at the end of that session, we got straight into the mat, and I went over 1.60 metres. 

Looking back, it’s a little bit embarrassing. Considering at that time I could also high jump that height, and now I can actually hurdle that height. It’s a start. Everyone starts somewhere. It was a challenge to get on top of the event and progress and learn how to do it.

Decathlon is extremely tricky with injuries. There are so many things we have in place to make sure we’re doing it quite right – just on that fine line between too much and not enough. I think it comes down to a lot of the people around me: my coach, my physio. My coach knows me very well as a decathlete, he knows me very well as an athlete, he knows what’s going on in my life, so he knows what he can push and what he can’t push. 

The incredible thing about decathletes – a lot of the time, we aren’t too far off other athletes. A lot of people see decathletes as that all-round, average guy. The guy who never really was anything in a single event. To make the Olympics and to do well at the Olympics, you need some events to progress and be a lot
better than average. My PB [personal best] in long jump would qualify me for the Commonwealth Games. 

I’ve always loved a challenge. And I guess the decathlon was really one of the first things that I couldn’t pick up overnight and excel at. I think that is what drew me more to it more than the other events and other sports. It’s tricky. It’s that event that can never fully be won or be mastered.

I created a video series a few years ago leading into the world juniors, and pretty much the aim of that for me was to give myself media training, so that when a camera pops up in front of me, I can talk reasonably comfortably and I can answer questions. It’s progressed into this series that a lot of people are following and getting on on board with. I’m actually showing what no other athlete in the world is showing, which is behind the scenes. A very real and honest look into my training and the ups and downs physically and emotionally.

I was walking through the streets and someone called out my name. They knew me from watching the series on YouTube. I went over and I spent a bit of time talking, and the girl started crying. And it caught me off guard a bit, because she was embarrassed for crying, but she was crying because I was paying attention and talking to her and comforting her. It was this weird situation that I didn’t want to just leave her crying on the street, but she was crying because I was paying attention to her.

It was just a reminder to keep my head level and always appreciate the people around me who have supported me over the years and followed the journey with me.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 25, 2016 as "Ten out of 10". Subscribe here.

Richard Cooke
is a journalist and writer for television. He is The Saturday Paper's sports editor.