'Horrible': Athletics world championships rocked by 'devastating' moment

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.

Kevin Mayer burst into tears. Image: Eurosport/Getty

The Frenchman wiped away tears, then sat down and buried his head in his arms.

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Warner began the second day with a 27-point lead over team mate Pierce LePage and 30 points clear of Mayer.

Kevin Mayer was absolutely devastated. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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.