Johannesburg - Olympic decathlete Willem Coertzen improved on his own South African record in his specialist event at the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge in Austria on Sunday.
Coertzen gathered 8 398 points to claim the bronze medal against a quality field in what was the third best effort so far this year on the IAAF rankings.
The result came as a great relief to Coertzen after a disappointing 2014 where he was forced to withdraw from the event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games due to a flare up of an ankle injury during the high jump.
“I knew I was in relative good form but I did not quite expect to do this well and in a sense what should have happened at the Commonwealth Games happened now,” Coertzen said on his arrival in South Africa.
“Unfortunately because I was injured last year I couldn’t get it out (the record) and it seems like I just shifted it to this year.”
The 32-year-old improved on his previous record from the 2013 World Championships in Moscow by 55 points to set his third African record.
He finished behind the German duo of Kai Kazmirek in first place with a total of 8 462 points and Michael Schrader with 8 415 points.
Coertzen fought his way up from eighth place on the first day before moving to fourth place after winning the javelin with 68.48m.
His second place finish in the 1 500m with a time of 4:19.54 was enough for a podium finish.
“The last time I finished a decathlon there (in Austria) it was the first time that I participated there in 2009 and every year I went since there something went wrong,” Coertzen said.
He said he was contemplating going to one more event before the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August but would rather make finer adjustments before the global showpiece.
“There are still a lot of things that I can do until August, I still have some speed work to do and sharpen up elsewhere,” he said.
Coertzen said the pole vault remained his Achilles heel which was the difference between him finishing in the Top 10 or realistically competing for a medal at major international events.
He needs to vault nearly half a metre higher than his 4.63m personal best to contest for a medal.
“The pole vault is where it will make a difference as all the guys that I compete against vault from five metres and upwards and that is where they are a step ahead of me,” Coertzen said.
“If I can get to their level in the pole vault then I can be scoring around 8 500 points.”
Coertzen, who had no outside assistance with the technical event, said he hoped to soon to get some expert help with the finer details which would give him the edge later this year.
“There might be something in the pipeline but I am not 100 percent sure, so I hope it will work out as it will mean a lot to me,” he said.