Kevin Mayer's bid to retain his world decathlon crown ended in tears on Thursday after the injured Frenchman limped out of the competition in the pole vault.
The world record holder pulled out of the world championship decathlon after seven events after suffering what appeared to be a pulled hamstring in the 110m hurdles.
Mayer, locked in a duel with Canadian Damian Warner for the gold medal, made his first pole vault attempt but ran straight through the pit then stood on the mats and blew a kiss to the crowd.
The Frenchman wiped away tears, then sat down and buried his head in his arms.
Warner began the second day with a 27-point lead over team mate Pierce LePage and 30 points clear of Mayer.
But the Canadian gave notice that he meant business on day two by clocking the top time of 13.56 seconds in the 110m hurdles to increase his advantage to 71 points.
Mayer clocked 13.87 but clutched his left hamstring and grimaced as he crossed the line.
Mayer battling injury
Before the discus Mayer was seen receiving a massage and treatment on the leg, a worrying sign with a long night of five events just underway.
Mayer showed no distress, however, as he posted the fourth best throw of 48.34 metres to retake the lead by 56 points after Warner finished tied for last in the event.
Fans reacted with sadness at the devastating scenes.
So sad and upset for Kevin Mayer aka the defending world decathlon champion to leave the competition like that after being the first. Man speed recovery champ, le meilleur👍💯 #IAAFDoha2019 #WorldAthleticsChamps pic.twitter.com/5dvdJoniMv— Renzo (@abdran9) October 3, 2019
Poor Kevin Mayer man— Tumi (@tumza_45) October 3, 2019
Leading the decathlon and having to pull out before the event because of an injury is devastating
He’ll probably win the Olympic title next year doe
C'est horrible pour Kevin Mayer :/— nonam ⚜️ (@Manqqt) October 3, 2019
So sad for you 😪😪 Hope you will recover soon, good luck in Olympics 🤞🤞🤘👌🥇— Mette Gregoriussen (@mgregoriussen) October 3, 2019
Such a shame. He had just come back in the lead.— Mr Froggy 🇪🇺🇫🇷🇬🇧 (@MrFroggy) October 3, 2019
That’s sad, he did look like he was in a lot of pain, hope it’s nothing serious.— Fiona Lancaster (@fionalancaster) October 3, 2019
It was heartbreaking :( I'm so so sorry for him!— AstridS➡️🇮🇪GPF❄️⛸️🇯🇵 (@AstridSusanne90) October 3, 2019